Corel's Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 image editor, with its darker interface, looks better than previous versions did, but the new shade is the only visual tweak. What the interface needs is a complete overhaul - it's so jam-packed with overlapping options that it's hard to wade through.

For example, Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2's primary new feature, Express Lab, is supposed to simplify processing lots of images with commonly used tools, such as cropping and red-eye reduction. However, Express Lab itself introduces no new tools, and it isn't a batch processor - you can't tell it to, say, resize 10 images at once. (A batch processor resides elsewhere.) If you want a tool outside the small set, you must exit the box.

Corel added a few mostly-for-fun tools to Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2, including Thinify, to simulate shaving a few pounds off your subjects, and Eye Drop, to whiten bloodshot eyes. They're easy to use, but since they don't offer many adjustments, the effects are pretty coarse. You can now apply layer styles, such as drop shadows and glows, to vector layers; surprisingly, they don't allow much customisation either.


Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 has plenty of powerful tools to satisfy practically anyone who edits images, but using it feels like trying to row a two-person dingy that's carrying 14 people on board. With the greater competition now offered by the cheaper Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0 this could be bad news for Corel.