CD Power Pack. (CD-ROM utility software) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Rick Broida
Corel's CD Power Pak is the Swiss Army Knife of CDROM utility packages. Among the tools included with Power Pak are CDROM-caching software, image management and manipulation utilities, a collection of Photo CD images and sound files, and a system-sleuth utility to tell you everything you never wanted to know about your PC. There's even a set of Koss earphones to use when listening to audio CDs.
Photo CD Lab lets you load and manipulate Kodak Photo CD images. A hundred images are included here, culled from Corel's sold-separately collection of royalty-free Photo CDs. Lab displays the images individually or as part of a slide show, and it lets you resize, mirror, and rotate images. You can convert Photo CD pictures to BMP, EPS, PCX, or TIF format for use in other applications, but the software fails to provide important data on the destination files (like how much space they will require). Still, for Photo CD newcomers, Lab's moderate power is easy to harness.
System Browser, on the other hand, may overwhelm beginners. It uncovers an abundance of mostly technical information about your system, ranging from DOS device-driver addresses to BIOS strings. That's Greek to most users and useless information to even more. Plus, it all has little to do with CD-ROMs; although it might help find IRQ conflicts when installing a CD-ROM drive, you must have the drive installed before you can install the program. Nevertheless, power users and programmers should find System Browser a great troubleshooting tool.
Mosaic is a graphics-file manager that displays and prints thumbnail views of image collections, such as Photo CDs. A useful tool, Mosaic is especially important here because there's no guide to Power Pak's 100 Photo CD images.
The rest of the package is a mixed bag. Of the two CD-ROMs included with Power Pak, one contains a full 600 megabytes of Windows WAV files--mostly sound effects and music clips. An included third-party WAV editor, Voyetra's WinDAT, lets you modify the files. Another utility, CD Audio, plays audio CDs with all the functionality of a true CD player. You can store databases of the tracks on your audio CDs and specify a preferred order for playing those tracks. To take full advantage of both of these tools, you'll need a sound card that supports direct CD audio. Check with the manufacturer of your sound card to see if it supports direct-from-CD play (you may need a special cable).
Finally, the CD-ROM-caching software, which is difficult to configure properly, performs well, but not as well as the new DOS 6.2 version of SMARTDrive. Included with the CD-ROM-caching software is a version of CorelSCSI.
Documentation is sparse, confusing in areas, and seemingly tailored to owners of SCSI CD-ROM drives. Still, every item in CD Power Pak is useful--just not for everyone. This is a package best suited to photographers interested in Photo CD and power users with SCSI CD-ROM drives.