Software for Securing and Sharing Images Debuts

By Greg Scoblete On Nov 20 2006 - 8:00am

A variety of new imaging software programs debuted last month aiming to help consumers tame the teeming gigabytes of digital images piling up on their hard drives.

Corel announced version XI of its Paint Shop Pro Photo imaging software suite and Snapfire, a new program that it will dangle on the Web as a free download, alongside a pay-for Plus edition.

New for the Pro Photo XI is a color changer tool that "detects and analyzes variations in brightness caused by real-world illumination and then reapplies the illumination to the new color to produce a highly realistic effect," according to Corel. Another new tool, called the time machine, applies photo effects (such as Roaring 1920s) to images to match the effect of the film processing used in its corresponding era.

It also now offers a photo organizer and depth of field tool and a learning center to educate photo novices. Also for first timers are one-click image correction tools and a 2-hour training CD. The program also offers a variety of capabilities for higher end users, including expanded RAW file format support, and upgrades for various editing features such as curves, levels and cropping.

The new program, which is shipping now for a suggested $99.99, will include a copy of the newly introduced Corel Snapfire Plus SE photo and video sharing software. The software automatically creates multimedia slide shows — which Corel is calling "Snapfire Shows" — that can be e-mailed or uploaded to social networking sites like Webshots. The software also interfaces with online photo services.

The software also provides templates for creating photo gift items like calendars and greeting cards. Its message center pane delivers hints and an upgrade path for consumers

Snapfire Plus ($39.99) builds off of the free version with photo and video editing and the ability to customize the Snapfire Shows.

The software is built on a modular platform which Corel said makes adding additional functionality easier. The first such modular, available later in the year for $9.99, will offer the ability to burn Snapfire shows onto DVD for viewing on a TV.

InterVideo introduced the eighth version of its WinDVD software, adding Vista compatibility to the DVD playing software.

The software will ship in Platinum and Gold versions. The Platinum edition will offer support for a variety of high-definition video formats including H.264, MPEG-2-HD, WMV-HD and VC1 alongside standard definition formats —MPEG-4, Real, QuickTime and WMV.

The Platinum version also adds the ability to integrate with Media Center and UPnP home networks, allowing WinDVD 8 to play back content from other UPnP-certified devices within a network. Both the Gold and Platinum versions can serve as UPnP clients and work with other UPnP servers available on the market, according to InterVideo.

For slackers, the software features a "boss" key which instantly pauses and hides the player from view.

Consumers with either the Gold or Platinum edition can purchase an optional HD Upgrade pack directly from InterVideo to add support for playing back HD-DVD and Blu-ray Discs.

Both Gold and Platinum editions will ship this month for a suggested $39.95 and $59.95 respectively.

Sonic Solutions announced that it has acquired Gothenburg, Sweden-based System OK.

The Swedish company provides system recovery and backup software to European markets. Sonic plays to integrate that capability into its Roxio line of digital media software to safeguard user's digital images, videos and personal data.

Sonic will also market System OK's solutions to enterprise and OEM customers, the company said. A company spokesperson indicated that no decision had been made as to what System OK functionality will be integrated into the Roxio product and what cost, if any, it would add to the retail packages.

Tribeca Labs announced a new photo enhancement software that automatically corrects all images loaded onto a PC — without consumer interface. The software runs in the background, scanning a user's My Pictures folder and applying a series of corrective procedures to any new image files that appear.

The automated service can also tie into the Swiss Picture Bank, a service run by Swisscom IT Services (of Swiss Bank fame) that automatically uploads recently added images to its secure server. It will cost $5 a month for up to 10GB of total storage. A free three month trial is included with the product.

According to Tribeca Labs partner Mike Bevans, there is a "model in place" to offer dealers a residual remuneration if consumers subscribe to the Swiss Picture Bank back-up service. The service will also offer online photo printing which can be driven to individual retail stores, Bevans added.

The company is attempting to position the product as less software than accessory since it requires little to no consumer interaction after an initial set-up, Bevans said. It is currently being sold online by the company and in camera stores.

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