As much of a deal hunter as I am, I typically wonder what the motivation for the sale is. Sometimes the candy is a little oily, the food is past it’s “sell by” date, or sometimes you’re getting last season’s software. There’s no mistaking that $12 dollars (USD) for over $500 of software is a blasted good deal, but just why would vendors make such an offer?
In the case of LastPass, CloudApp and Windscribe the lure is obvious; as subscription based services, this is a great hook to get you started on a regular payment schedule. Do yourself a favor, though, and mark your calendars when the renewal date occurs. You’ll save yourself some unpleasant surprises that way.
The rest of the package consists of fully functioning, licensed software and the catch isn’t as apparent. I’ll do a quick run down of my experiences with each of the hurdles and why it may be your best option to buy in now, especially if this is software you’ve been waiting for a good bargain.
Tier 1 (at $1)
Soda PDF is a budget conscious PDF editor and presents all of its features without trying to hook you into an upgrade, but for the price you don’t get any updates. If security features provided by PDF documents are important to you, look to Adobe. Otherwise, this may well give you the rudimentary tools you’ve been looking for. Otherwise, SumatraPDF will show up Microsoft’s system level tools easily.
(Sony) Magix Music Maker is pretty oily, where software candy is concerned. This hybrid DAW/Editor/Sequencer tries to fill the empty shoes of Garageband on PC, which is Mac only, for the foreseeable future. If you want to try out Music Maker, it is available for free via Magix’s website, with most features inaccessible. You’ll get an “in-app voucher” and coupon from Magix, for what little good that may do you. The good news is that you’re getting the Premium version and all of its features, so at this price, where’s the downfall?
Tier 2 (at $9+)
Corel Aftershot 3 and ParticleShop work as a unit, with ParticleShop functioning as an editor for Aftershot. I would call this an upsell pitch. Once you’ve got your hands on this RAW image editing suite, you’ll see its in-app advertisement for Aftershot Pro. That’s pretty crass, if you ask me. It does make another deal appeal, though, reducing the full price of the Pro version by 50%, or $40 (USD). All told this is a substantial markdown from the regular retail price of these products.
Painter Essentials 5 isn’t something I need, but as I haven’t tried it yet, I’ll have to withhold and opinion on it for now.
LastPass is a good deal for a 6 month subscription, but I don’t advise trusting master password systems as a rule. Save your money; don’t activate the account, and instead, use your imagination to invent passwords. Create a fictional character with their own answers for security questions, use words you’ll remember but no one will ever guess. If you put the keys in someone else’s hands, be prepared to lose them.
Tier 3 (at $12+)
Panda Antivirus comes with moderate recommendations, but it seems to be very fast and hasn’t dragged down the performance of my laptop at all. As a new user, only time will tell if this moderate investment was worthwhile. The asking price is fair enough to experiment with, however. Clam Antivirus also does a bang up job of protecting you from most threats out in the wild.
Windscribe is a name better suited to a high fantasy scholar hobbled over a pile of scrolls, than a Virtual Private Network client. I don’t know anything of this software’s reputation, but as it requires a subscription, be prepared to pay for its upkeep if you intend to continue using the service. If this one is too rich for your blood, you might consider TunnelBear, a free to use, cheap to upgrade VPN.
Magix Audio Studio 10 may be this bundle’s worst offender or saving grace. That all depends on how badly you need cutting edge audio editing features that you can’t get from open source software like Audacity. Also, Audio Studio 11 is a thing that Sony sells, so this looks to me like a way to make money on outdated – but still serviceable – software, and to induct new users into the fold. Anyone running with Adobe right now is laughing pretty hard, as Creative Cloud can be had for as little as $33 a month, on sale, but that still adds up to more than most of us want to spend.
There’s no questioning that users on a budget – and who isn’t – will appreciate this chance to fill the gaps in their paid software libraries, but be cautious about the limitations so you’re not caught at a disadvantage when you need this software most.