Clearly, I simply had to have it–the new Adobe Web Premium CS4 software suite. And while I might not actually need every element of the package, it was at the end of the day a logical and fiscally reconcilable financial decision since I was able to upgrade for the low, low price of $600.00. DId I say that out loud?

It’s an awesome collection of web essentials for anyone that sports a multi-colored propeller hat. It comes with literally everything you’d ever need to create a high speed, complex website–or a simple website dedicated to your kitty, “Mr. Petey”.

The CS4 package sports the newest versions of Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, and more. The interface follows a common Adobe theme and while I’ve previously dismissed that as a “feature”, CS4 it really does make for a smooth transition between applications. At this point in the game, there aren’t dramatic tricks left to pull out of the hat in a collection of applications as mature as these are. So most of the improvements are about doing those same tasks better or with more efficiency. I suspect the most interesting feature now found in Photoshop CS4 is its use of your system 3d graphics card. Detailed zooming (that doesn’t require a 50% or 25% view to be clear and in focus) and literally sliding you images to and fro across your screen actually have practical day to day application

Bottom line: I’ve had the collection for just under a week and I’m happy that I made the jump. Granted, the $600 isn’t refundable so I NEED to be happy with it. But at the end of the day, I’m shedding no tears or gnashing my teeth in my sleep.

I only dabble in Illustrator so I can’t speak with much authority on that element (but what I’ve seen, I like). But Dreamweaver CS4 and Photoshop CS4 are so slick, I’m convinced that some black magic might be in play.

The bad news: Photoshop now uses and exploits the 3D card on your machine and the results offer you’re some sexy eye candy (zooming in close–it’s a whole new experience). My computer is circa 2007 but at this writing, she’s no shrinking violet. She’s not a power machine, but she holds her own. (Vista OS AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core, 4G of RAM and a modest 3D video card). But to the point – Photoshop is taxing my computer to the point where selecting a window/image and dragging it from one side of the screen to another seems to require a half second more…a little something that over the course of a day can add up and cause my eye to occasionally twitch. A gnat. A quirk. I don’t know if it’s my modest graphics card, my processor or what, but I have to assume a stronger machine would eliminate those occasional hesitations. But if your machine is a wee under-powered, I’d consider a new machine for your hard-earned cash before considering the venerable and demanding CS4 Suite.

Updated Bottom Line: It’s been about 6 weeks now and I’m shopping for a new computer. Granted, my box was probably due for an upgrade within the next six months, but Photoshop, in particular, has become a modest burden as it gets quite excited when I have more than 10 images open (read below–I’m not exactly using a Pentium One). Even nudging a simple square outline forces my computer to “think” (a slight pause and the “hourglass” icon) before it slides even a pixel in any direction. Those one-second interruptions in the workflow add up over the course of a working day. And again, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, and company have not shown themselves to be as processor hungry. And that makes sense.