If you received a digital camera for Christmas, it will have come with its own basic editing software. While this will be fine for the basics, you may find you'll soon outgrow it. Serif PhotoPlus X2 is the next logical step, as it's an introductory product that has plenty of tools to help you develop your skills.

The interface has been updated, but while the software is fully compatible with Windows Vista, it doesn't have the same forced Aero interface as other tools we've seen. The look is clean and simple, but more importantly, it loads quickly and isn't too resource-heavy, so is ideal for older or budget-specified laptops.

The interface has been designed with beginners in mind, so you'll find a handy How To guide on the main screen. This shows you everything from how to load images to making your first edits. Once you're capable this feature can be disabled, but we found it helpful with tips for even the more experienced user to get more from PhotoPlus.

New Features

Of the new features on offer, Makeover Studio is a bar that runs down the far side of the screen and allows you to manually select editing tools. However, along the top of the page you'll find Quick Fix Studio, which allows you to make automatic changes to images. If you have a batch to edit, this can easily speed things up.

Other tools include Filter Gallery and Instant Artist, both of which are intended for more experienced users. Filter gallery includes a number of new tools, such as Comic Book, which flattens colours to make them look more cartoonish, while Vignette smoothes off edges and softens images. Tools to help create slideshows and for creating discs are also now present, as well as a handy utility for getting your images printed online and sent to you.

Overall, Serif PhotoPlus X2 doesn't attempt to do anything new, but what it does is to take a great deal of hassle out of editing images.