Back in the 90s, I used to create my own posters and cards all the time. I had my trusty HP Deskjet printer which cranked out whatever I needed without ever having to go to an arts and crafts or a Hallmark store. The software I used at the time was PrintMaster Gold for Windows 95. It was powerful for its time, yet easy to work with, delivering dozens of project templates, plenty of clip-art to choose from, and an excellent "on-line" help system. Fast forward to the end of 2012, and the software is still around as the newer PrintMaster 2012 Platinum incarnation, which is compatible with the latest versions of Windows.
- Title: PrintMaster 2012 Platinum
- Company: Broderbund
- Product URL: http://www.broderbund.com/p-273-printmaster-2012-platinum.aspx
- Supported OS: Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8
- Price: $39.99
- Rating: 3 out of 5
- Bottom Line: Broderbund's latest PrintMaster is a decent release with a clean layout for making cards, posters and banners with ease. However some software stability issues and sluggishness were noted and could be a cause for concern.
When you fire up the installation program, you have the choice of installing everything all at once, or you can choose to install the base application and have PrintMaster download anything extra (such as clip art and templates) on demand to your computer, which can be good for saving disk space.
Getting to the heart of the product, the main interface of PrintMaster feels fairly clean and organized when compared to versions gone by. You have your main toolbar at the top as well as resource gallery and design tools at opposite ends of the window for easy access.
For a performance test, I created a sample greeting card project and started working within one of the provided templates. Adding shapes, images and text was fairly easy to accomplish, though some operations like the "Headlines" feature, which is basically fancy text, has a noticeable lag of a few seconds from the time I start typing to when it appears within the body of the project. Admittedly, this isn't a huge problem, especially if you aren't typing super-fast.
For the longest time, PrintMaster has been known to be excellent with the wide variety of cartoons and images within the clip art gallery. When I went to add clip art, I did like how the dialog box was nicely organized categorically into different genres, making it relatively easy to find what I was looking for. In some categories with hundreds or even thousands of images, a search function is provided. The only possible issue one could run into is the slow preview load times. Even with my relatively zippy AMD Athlon II PC, scrolling a list that wasn't fully loaded in could show a "Loading Image" graphic for a minute or so.
Compared to the PrintMaster I used in years gone by, this new version is improved in terms of layout efficiency and template quality. The only real irritation I had with PrintMaster was the occasional crashes and the PrintMaster Packs service, which provides extra templates and content available for purchase separately. While a system like PrintMaster Packs would have been useful in the 90s, when the World Wide Web was in its infancy and Google Images was non-existent, the levels of free content out there now kind of makes the clip art part of PrintMaster pointless beyond what is already given to you.
In conclusion, if you are the artsy type that likes to get creative with making posters, greeting cards, banners, and even Avery labels, PrintMaster is a sound product that doesn't cost a fortune at roughly $39.99. That being said, in my research on this software, I noticed Amazon reviews for this product which were made by disgruntled users mentioning constant crashes and incompatibility concerns. Although I found no major problems like that in my tests, your mileage may vary.
An avid technology writer and an IT guru, Matthew is here to help bring the best in software, hardware and the web to the collective consciousness of TechRepublic's readership. In addition to writing for TechRepublic, Matthew currently works as a Customer Success Professional for Ultimate Software in Santa Ana, California.