Paint Shop Pro X is the first version to be published under the Corel banner, and there are some obvious differences straight away. The interface is now simpler, cleaner and more beginner-friendly.

A new Learning Centre walks you through various basic image-editing tasks, there's a Smart Photo Fix option for one-click enhancement and 'Makeover' tools for producing more flattering portraits.

Corel says Paint Shop Pro is now up to 50 per cent faster (Elements is still faster, though) and high-end users should note that it now supports 16-bit editing.

The file browser's now displayed as a pane at the bottom of the main window instead of a separate window, which is a big step forward. Better still, Paint Shop Pro now comes with the powerful image cataloguing program, Photo Album 6.

Under the surface

Beneath the surface, Paint Shop Pro still has everything it had before, including the vector drawing tools, Picture Tubes and in-depth image adjustment options. It has a lens distortion correction tool and one for removing chromatic aberration, which are big advantages for digital photographers.

Paint Shop Pro is as powerful as it ever was, but Corel seems to be presenting it as a more beginner-friendly package. The price tag is also pretty high, especially since Elements and PhotoImpact are a lot cheaper.

Corel has smartened up Paint Shop Pro to make it faster. It also adds features like the Makeover tools, Object Remover and One-step Purple Fringe Fix. A bit pricey though. Rod Lawton