PROS / It's inexpensive and has a fair number of graphic design and photo editing tools to make use of.
CONS / It lacks publishing essentials like the ability to dynamically flow content from one text box to the next.
VERDICT / PrintMaster Platinum is a stereotypical desktop publisher with lots of templates and art assets to use, but a dearth of quality among them. Without the publishing features of more professional software, it's a glorified clip-art repository.
PrintMaster v6 Platinum is the latest edition of Encore Software's entry-level desktop publishing package. As the developer of The Print Shop, Encore already has a significant brand in the publishing market; PrintMaster is a lighter, simpler product that offers many – but not all – of the same features. You can correct photos using the built-in photo editor, for example, but you can't flow text between text boxes, even if they're on the same page. The result is an application that, when compared to other desktop publishing options, can't hold its own.
Make no mistake: PrintMaster is, primarily, a collection of templates and art assets you can use to build your publications. You won't get any new fonts when you install it, but you'll get access to a portfolio of 155,000 assets – clip art and page graphics, mostly – and another 4,300 templates. Like Encore's other desktop publishing programs, PrintMaster doesn't natively support Avery products, but it has plenty of other templates to use: brochure layouts, calendars, invitations, letterheads, postcards and more. We did notice the absence of both resumes and invoices in the template collection, which supports our impression that PrintMaster is designed more for home use than business needs.
It may have a decent template collection, but PrintMaster's feature set is severely lacking. It doesn't have master pages or the ability to persist objects from one page to another – or, for that matter, decent multi-page support of any kind. You can't link text boxes together and have content flow between them, which makes it almost impossible to format any sort of article, much less an entire newsletter. There's no formatting style support, no support for tables or graphs, and no importing from or exporting to common file types such as Microsoft Word documents or Adobe Photoshop PSDs.
Fortunately, PrintMaster offers a decent suite of graphics design tools. You can't expect a full-vector graphics editor – such features are reserved for the best publishing programs on the market, after all. But you'll at least have access to quickshapes, effects like beveling and 3D perspective, and an integrated selection of photo correction tools to help you smooth out blemishes and remove annoying red-eye issues.
PrintMaster Platinum is a fancily named program without the feature set to back up expectations. It may be affordable, but you can get better desktop publishing software for less, and if you're after the best you probably won't mind forking over a little more for a better overall experience. If you're merely after a new selection of clip art, it will provide, but aspiring publishers should look higher in our lineup.