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Software Review: Adobe Master Collection – Device Central CS4 From Adobe Systems

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This is the ninth in a series of reviews that will cover what is contained in the Adobe Creative Suite 4 (CS4) Master Collection. When Adobe released CS4 this past fall, they not only released single version products, but also six separate suites of products. They are Design Premium, Design Standard, Web Premium, Web Standard, Production Premium, and Master Collection. You can go online to compare what is contained in each version. The goal of this series it to define what each product does and provide information of what the new version brings to the table.

What do you need to run Device Central? On PCs you need a 1.4 GHz or faster processor, Windows XP SP2 or Vista; on Macs, a multi-core Intel processor, Mac OS X v10.4.11 – 10.5.4 (Leopard); on both you need 1GB RAM; 2 GB for HDV and HD playback, a 1280×800 display with a 32-bit video card, 10 GB hard drive space for installation, and a DVD-ROM drive.

Device Central CS4Adobe Device Central is included as part of the Creative Suite series of products as well as select individual products. Its primary purpose is to integrate parts of the suite together and offer a way to develop and test content for mobile devices. It provides users with a testing platform that approximates how pages and graphics will work on different cell phones under a variety of conditions.

So what is new with Device Central CS4?

• Online device library that is kept up-to-date with the latest mobile device profiles. You can browse, group, and search mobile device profiles. You can compare multiple devices, and create custom device sets for quick project access. Currently there are more than 450 Adobe Flash Lite supported devices in the library and they are updated regularly.

• Automated Testing helps ease the testing of Flash Lite for mobile devices by allowing the Device Central simulate your testing before having to spend the time to export and test on target devices. Now you can use smart testing to gauge the appearance, performance, and behavior of mobile content right on your desktop. You can simulate various display conditions, such as backlight, timeout, and sunlight reflections in the context of mobile device skins to better test designs for real-world conditions.

• Snapshots will let you show your client or manager how your content might appear in various conditions. So, say you want to show how a display panel will look with no reflections, with the sun shining on it, or just in a general outdoor appearance, you can take a snapshot of each appearance and present it for approval.

• Network simulation now gives you the ability to test network conditions on a range of devices by letting you simulate network performance of your content on a specific device.

• Export services will simplify project collaboration and content deployment on mobile phones by choosing one or more wizard-guided export services, such as "Upload to FTP Server" and "Send to Bluetooth device," which you can save and then reapply with a single click.

• Device compositions in After Effects as well as other CS4 products will streamline your mobile authoring workflow through tight integration and offer greater productivity amongst the various products.

• Video recording gives you the ability to pitch ideas to clients and executives more easily by recording and sending a high-quality movie clip of your content, all from your desktop.

• Improved video integration will let you benefit from improved video integration through support for FLV emulation and recommended mobile export presets for Adobe Media Encoder.

• Mobile project management enables you to manage and save all assets, target device profiles, and export options related to a mobile project in one central location.

 Device Central  CS4When Device Central first appeared in CS3, it was a great enhancement in the support for mobile devices. It gave mobile developers and designers the ability to test their products with out the hassle of moving to the actual device for each iteration.

I think that Device Central CS4 really continues to make good improvements to an already valuable product by adding the automation, video, and snapshots. While it is not available as a standalone product, it does add considerable value to the various suites as a whole for those who need the ability to produce media for mobile devices. If you work with mobile applications or want to do mobile applications then Device Central CS4 is a must-have application.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.