You can only buy PhotoExplorer from Corel's official UK Web site as part of the fully fledged PhotoImpact 12 package. This costs £30, although it's still available to buy separately from the US site or from various online resellers at £15 a pop. It's not officially compatible with Windows Vista, but in our tests everything seemed to work fine apart from the Help system.

Other omissions include a lack of RAW image support and our test copy wasn't able to preview Nikon RAW files. Better news is that you do get a veritable bucket-load of features for your money.

PhotoExplorer makes a particularly good job of importing photos direct from cameras and scanners, as well as rapidly ploughing through large collections of photos that are already stored on your PC. You can use full descriptions for each file, rather than being limited to tags. This is good for subsequent searches, although the rating system only has three levels rather than the preferred five that other programs use.

Changing data

It's straightforward to call up a complete list of EXIF data for photo files and you can edit this freely within the program. With so much attention paid to this particular detail, it's a shame that you can't use EXIF data in search fields for filtering results as well.

There's also a reasonable range of image-editing tools, including adjustments for sharpness, colour balance, tone and some special effects. Overall, it's a reasonable choice if you're still using Windows XP, but it doesn't really stand out from the crowd enough to warrant your further attention.