CorelDraw X8 on a Surface Pro 4 Part 1

This article uses CorelDraw X8 Home and Student on the Surface Pro 4 with Intel Core i5, 4 GB of RAM, and 128 SSD. The SP4 runs on Windows 10 Pro and tests were also made using a Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch (4x6), and a Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500.

Note: This series of articles apply to CorelDraw Home and Student X8, which is not eligible for upgrading to the new CorelDraw 2017 Graphics Suite. Owners of the full version of CorelDraw X8 can upgrade to the brand-new CorelDraw 2017 Graphics Suite, which includes enhanced support for the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Dial.

The CorelDraw Suite has historically been an alternative to Adobe's range of products. Having used CorelDraw X5 for years now, I purchased the boxed version of CorelDraw X8 Home and Student for my Surface Pro 4. Unlike Adobe's subscription model for their products, a boxed set is really yours and only requires regular Internet access to verify your license unobtrusively and occasionally in the background (as expected, some consumers who purchased the boxed set from Amazon don't understand how license keys work and made incredibly ignorant remarks in the reviews).

Corel Photo-Paint X8 on the Surface Pro 4

CorelDraw and Corel Photo-Paint as Desktop applications


Younger users probably have a hard time understanding the difference between "apps" and "desktop applications" because they grew up with tablets and smartphones. CorelDraw and Corel Photo-Paint are strictly desktop applications, which means they are best used on a PC with a large display and a keyboard. There are keyboard shortcuts and tricks that veteran Corel users have grown accustomed to for years. The original workspace and UI of CorelDraw were created during a time when users were accustomed to multi-tasking with a keyboard and mouse, rather than a touchscreen with 10-finger gesture support.



Note: It's important to note that I really like the CorelDraw Graphics Suite and that I'm comfortable with Corel Photo-Paint and CorelDraw, because the article might sound somewhat brutal as a whole.

CorelDraw X8 Graphics Suite isn't optimized for touch screens, nor was it designed for the 2736 x 1824/12.3" display of the Surface Pro 4 (the new 2017 version is expected to correct this issue). For one thing, some of the dialog boxes are visibly pixelated on the SP4's screen. This doesn't make the suite any less useful or efficient for designing and digital or print publishing, but it's distracting. For more details about using the suite with the SP4's touch screen, refer to Part 2 of this series.

Most of the dialog boxes and settings look fine, but some windows in CorelDraw and Corel Photo-Paint, such as the Export window, are pixelated on the SP4.
If you're accustomed to a mouse, keyboard, or an old school Wacom digitizer (using the word 'tablet' confuses people these days), you can get started really quickly with Corel's improved tools. In fact, the UI hasn't changed from earlier releases of CorelDraw. You can get around using the Navigator and Magnifier as before and use the shortcut keys and mouse when needed. On the other hand, both Photo-Paint and CorelDraw won't recognize your finger for panning the workspace or document. You would still need to switch to the Pan or Magnify tool. This won't bother users who are accustomed to Corel's working methods, but would confuse newer designers who have been trained with a touch screen.

As a desktop application, however, CorelDraw X8 is as good as ever, particularly if you're a Corel or vector designer. Older .cdr and .cpt files opened without issues on CorelDraw and Corel Photo-Paint on the Surface Pro 4 and the system easily performed tasks like vector-editing, color changes, bitmap conversions, and exporting to different formats including PDF. The Surface Type keyboard felt luxurious compared to stock Logitech wireless keyboards and initially felt weird to use with CorelDraw, but performance was excellent. The experience made it worth writing about independently as a desktop suite here at Unsolicited But Offered.

If you're using CorelDraw on a Surface Pro 4 as a desktop application with a mouse and the Surface Type keyboard, the user experience is indistinguishable to using the application on a desktop PC.

The bottom line is that users who are comfortable with mouse and keyboard will be happy with CorelDraw and Corel Photo-Paint because it hasn't changed much as a desktop application. I use the word "desktop" in the sense that it's not a "mobile app". In fact, processors and RAM in today's laptops are so efficient, all the vector and bitmap tasks will fly along on any recent ultraportable or even entry-level laptop without any lag whatsoever. SP4 users who purchased the 4 GB version will be happy to know 4 GB is more than enough to perform tasks even on complex vector projects on CorelDraw X8.

Continued in CorelDraw X8 on a Surface Pro 4 Part 2

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