Last year we reviewed PSP8 on, so we gave the latest instalment of the software a run for its money. Does the new release warrant the coveted Hot Product award of its predecessor?

On opening the new software it was apparent that this was a safe and familiar workspace - users of previous Paint Shop products will be able to find their way around. The first thing that really caught the eye was the new History palette. This will list your actions so you can simply see what you did, and undo specific actions - much better than using the Undo arrow on the toolbar.

There are other updates to the user interface - some are so minor they don’t warrant a mention - but there are also new tools. Art Media brush tools allow you to create effects more like in an art studio, including oil, pastel, crayon and pencil. The scripts tab can be modified and icons placed on the tool bar to run a common script - some of the presets give you an idea of what can be achieved. If you find yourself repeating the same edits to images, this could save you a lot of time.

It is, however, very similar to the previous incarnation of PSP, which was very impressive. The thing to note here is that only your skill and experience with the software is the real limit here. Thankfully the 500+ pages of the user guide can tell you how to operate the software, but won’t make you artistically gifted - that you have to supply yourself.

There are still some utterly bizarre tools, like Picture Tube. This tool will dispense preset things onto your page, from the normal, like green neon, to the somewhat useful, like lawn and autumn leaves, to the totally bizarre - zoo animals. I fail to see exactly how you best utilize a random pile of monkeys, tigers and elephants.

Price when reviewed:

If you are looking for something to improve your digital images, this will certainly fulfil your needs. If you are looking at outputting professional grade digital artwork, you may feel restricted in PSP. However, for the vast majority of users, this will complete many of the jobs you want to do - it is certainly much more accomplished than the cut down versions that come with photo album software. If you have the patience, PSP makes it a pleasure to really enhance your images. If you’ve ever wanted to quickly remove the background from and image and smooth out those unsightly skin tones, Photo Shop is on hand to do the job.