Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Corel Draw Display Issues? Of Graphics Software And High Resolution Screens...

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(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you're using any professional graphics software and are thinking of buying a machine with a 4K or other high resolution screen, be very, very careful indeed.

I've been using Corel Draw since it first came out in the late 1980s. I remember extolling its virtues in the weekly computing column I wrote for Gulf News at the time. And its virtues then, as now, were legion.

Most people use Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign from Adobe Systems these days but I'd invested early in learning to navigate my way around Corel so I've stuck with it. One of the earlier adopters of graphics and page makeup software (first Ventura, which rather ages me, then Quark), I've spent a lot of money on Corel over the years - the upgrade path was always a little shaky and if you upgraded every three years or so, you almost always ended up paying full price - usually a stiff $1,000 or so.

Corel Corporation at one stage looked like they might challenge the mighty Microsoft when they bought WordPerfect from Novell. It wasn't to be - from that heyday, the company has rather plunged and tottered around and has recently completed a round of layoffs (by no means the first), impacting engineering and customer service in particular. I was to discover this the hard way.

But throughout it all I've stayed loyal to Corel. It's a bit like supporting England in the World Cup. You know you're on a loser, but you stick to your guns come what may.

I no longer use the software suite for work purposes and haven't in a long time, but I've kept a copy on my machine because it's handy for doing all sorts of little graphics jobs, from my book covers through to worksheets for Sarah's classroom. But our copy's old now, Corel 12 dates back to 2004 and Windows 2000 (remember that?) and XP. An upgrade was clearly needed, but $1,000 for some classroom worksheets and the odd graphics job for a book or website was a tad stiff.

You can imagine, then, my glee at finding a copy of Corel Draw Home and Student Suite 2014 sitting on the shelf down at Carrefour when I bought my lovely new and VERY orange Lenovo Yoga. At a mere $100-odd, it was just the ticket. I snapped it up like Snappy Sid MacSnap the winner of last year's snappiest snapping snap snapper contest.

The software installed, but the splash screen looked odd, a little like a shrinky-dink. It was tiny. And then the actual screen display showed. You can just about make out the menu bars. It's minuscule to the point of unusability. We clearly have a problem here, Houston.

I am not going to try you with details on how I messed with the screen settings, searched the web, scraped the Corel Support Forums or had frustrating online chat sessions with witless bots in deepest Uttar Pradesh pretending to be online chat support people. I am going to skim over the countless emails with Corel customer support telling me to slam the doors, re-install the software, perform a ceremonial quirkafleeg and dance widdershins around my computer sprinkling it with the blood of a black cockerel (all very fun, but I spent an age picking sticky feathers out of the keyboard).

Google keeps trying to change 'widdershins' into 'sidewinders'. Which says something about modern society, I'm sure.

The solution, after much escalation, turns out to be buying a $1,000 copy of Corel X7, because Corel Home and Student 2014 isn't 2014 software at all, but a rebadged version of redundant Corel X6 dating back to 2012 - before anyone had even dreamed up the idea of a laptop with a stunning 4K screen. And despite saying it's Windows 8.1 compatible, it won't work properly on a high resolution screen.

Let's just pause on that one for a second. A professional graphics package that doesn't support high resolution screens. Hmm.

I argued with them. Clearly the software is unfit for purpose: you've called it Corel Home and Student 2014 but it's not, it's Corel Redundant Package so it's hardly my fault it doesn't support current hardware. Yes, they said, we understand that - and what's more, X7 might not even work with your screen - the graphics software industry in general is having to remake things so that the software is responsive rather than static. If I needed any succour, as misery loves company, I could draw some comfort from the howls of Adobe customers who are having the same problem with high resolution screens and their software from what I could see on the Adobe support forums.

The least I can do is let you know - there appears to be an industry-wide issue out there with the new generation of hi-res screens and graphics software. So try before you buy. The software, I mean. The hardware I'd recommend in a flash - the Lenovo Yoga is a lovely machine, light as a feather, deliciously functional and the screen is nothing less than lavish. You want to dive in and splash around in it. Battery life is amazing, the flippy screen tricks it does are cool and the build quality's great.


Grumpy Goat said...

I've not looked it up, but as far as my addle-pated memory serves, 'quirkafleeg' is reserved for when your cat soils the Sacred Sands of Pootweet. No wonder it didn't sort out your Corelitis.

Alexander McNabb said...

Mr Goat, you have hit the ten inches of steel bang sur la tete.

What a memory, that man! The last thing I thought I'd get picked up on was a Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers reference!

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