Heavy-duty desktop-publishing applications such as Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress are often too complex and expensive for the needs of small-business or home users. Corel’s Print Office 2000, a DTP package designed for SOHO users on tight budgets, offers a good solution. Unfortunately, its lackluster performance mars an otherwise welcome addition to the Mac marketplace.
The Print Office suite consists of two separate applications, Corel Print Office and Corel Photo House. Print Office, the workhorse of the duo, handles page-layout and design duties. To get you started, it comes with an array of document templates ranging from banners to business cards.
Corel Print Office 2000’s Notebook feature (left) offers helpful context-sensitive tips.
The Project window, which occupies most of the screen, displays the current document. (Alas, you can’t display more than one page at a time, nor can you work with multiple documents simultaneously.)
DTP novices will appreciate the Notebook feature, which provides step-by-step instructions and context-sensitive tips. Less helpful are some of Print Office’s menus and tool bars, which often present too many ways to perform a function.
Photo House, an image-editing and painting application, shares the interface and context-sensitive guidance of its page-layout companion. Anyone who’s ever used painting software will feel at home with most of the program’s functions, which include a familiar suite of drawing tools.
Photo House’s retouching effects, which correct common flaws such as red-eye and scratches, work well on scanned photographs. You can export to several file formats, including PICT, TIFF, Photoshop, and JPEG. You can also transfer images directly into a new or existing Print Office document. If you don’t want to create images from scratch, you can mine the vast supply of photos, clip art, fonts, backgrounds, and borders included on two CDsor download content from Corel’s Web site without firing up a browser.
Unfortunately, Print Office 2000’s performance on a 120MHz Power Mac 7500 was lackluster at best. (Corel recommends an iMac or Power Mac with 32MB of RAM and Mac OS 8.1.) The suite felt much snappier on a blue-and-white G3/400, but that’s cold comfort for home and small-business users who often can’t afford the fastest Macs.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
Despite its interface quirks, Corel Print Office 2000 is a winning combination, offering plenty of features at an irresistible price. If your desktop-publishing projects are limited to the occasional brochure or newsletter and your hardware is up to the task, it’s worth a look.