By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2006-01-23 Print this article Print

Camtasia Studio 3.1 from TechSmith Corp. is a very intuitive tool for creating attractive application demonstrations and presentations. In fact, its probably one of the best products eWEEK Labs has seen for creating sales-oriented product demos and tutorials, although its not as useful for complex training and coursework applications.

Pricing for Camtasia Studio 3.1 starts at $299 per user; volume pricing is available.

If rival SoftSim is like a high-end application development environment, Camtasia Studio is like a video editing environment, with timeline and transition settings that will be familiar to anyone who uses such tools.

Click here to read eWEEK Labs review of SoftSim 2006. Recording application usage was very simple in Camtasia Studio, and we especially liked that it gave us the option to record audio or even video (which in outputted content would appear as a picture in a picture) as we created simulations. When completed, audio and video were automatically synchronized with our simulations.

Once content was recorded, we had access to a number of tools that helped us create attractive presentations. For example, a menu maker tool let us build custom menus for navigating the application demo, and we could zoom into simulations to focus on specific areas. Camtasia Studio also includes support for integrated polling—a useful feature but less sophisticated than the testing features in SoftSim 2006.

Like SoftSim, Camtasia Studio runs only on Windows platforms but offers a wide variety of output options. We could output content specifically for the Web or to a CD or DVD in Flash, Windows Media or QuickTime. A nice touch—and one that clearly shows the products sales orientation—is the integrated PowerPoint features that make it simple to record a presentation, add audio and video, customize the presentation, and output the presentation in any one of the supported formats.

While we found Camtasia Studio easy to use in general, the product includes plenty of learning aids that will help users who are less experienced with this type of product. For one thing, Camtasia is eating its own dog food, making good use of integrated simulations to provide tutorials and show users how its different features work.

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.

Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr RapozaÔÇÖs current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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