When you think of image manipulation, the first software package that comes to mind is Adobe Photoshop. So much so, that photoshop has pretty much become a verb. But, of course, there are alternatives out there.

Yesterday, Corel announced the latest version of its editing package, Paintshop Pro X4. The editing package is a budget option, costing less than £55, so it's clearly targeting itself at current users of Photoshop Elements, Adobe's entry-level package.

But how difficult is it for a company such as Corel to keep up when its main rival is so ubiquitous? We spoke to Chris Boba, PR manager for Corel EMEA to get some insight.

Chris says that the typical consumer is pretty much "anyone and everyone", with Corel targeting beginners right up to semi-pro level, "We aim at someone who really wants to do a lot with their photos, starting with the novice right the way up to prosumer level," he said.

Aside from the obvious cost benefits of using something like Corel, Chris says that the company also tries to make its products easier to use than rival software packages. "I'm confident in saying that we are the number one alternative product", he told us.

"Even though there are free software options on the market, those have a limited feature set, while those that are more expensive tend to be more complicated and don't offer a complete workflow solution."

Learning guide

One of the features that Corel is particularly proud of is the learning guides that teach users how to use certain aspects of the software. "Our software gives you room to grow with complicated techniques such as levels and curves," Chris explained, "The learning guide is very popular with both novices and people who have been using the product for a while. We know that not every photographer is an experienced photo editor, so this gives them something to work with."

Users of previous versions of Paintshop Pro have complained about the speed of the product, but the latest version promises a 50% quicker start-up time and improved run-speed while in use. "We've spent a long time working on the code to make sure work flow is as quick as possible, because we understand that speed is a key element for most photographers," Chris said.

Corel offers a wide range of products, which includes graphic design, video and office software. In some parts of the world, sales are stronger in some segments than others. However, according to Chris, in the UK it is digital media products that do the best. "Paintshop Pro sales are extremely strong in the UK, and we work with our beta testers all the time to see how we can improve it further. It's a competitive market, but I think we can grow with the product."