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Corel WinZip 12.0 with Photo Compression (9/2008)
by Douglas Dixon
I've been using WinZip for years (decades?), with the handy right-click Explorer menu option to zip up a group of files -- to save old versions in a single archive, to back up finished versions, and to prepare to send off to others. The password options make it easy to encrypt a Zip archive to send sensitive files over the public Internet.
WinZip has been acquired by Corel, but is still operating independently (www.winzip.com), and has just released the new WinZip 12.0 with new support for compressing JPEG image files and managing archives with collections of photos. It also includes improved performance and compatibility, plus enhanced security options.
After 11 major versions of WinZip, you'd think there would not be much more to do in file compression. And you'd especially expect that at least photo compression was a solved problem -- since JPEG files are already aggressively compressed, using a lossy process that throws away information (detail that's hopefully not visually important), as opposed to ZIP, which needs to be lossless compression that can reconstruct the exact original file.
However, WinZip 12 confounds these expectations with its new support for JPEG file compression -- shrinking (already-compressed) images up to 20 to 25%. The compression is lossless (the whole premise of WinZip) -- so you can extract the original file without loss of photo quality or data integrity.
In the Pro version, use the new Photo viewer to view photos and slide shows, and rotate, resize, and delete photos. And the new Zip from Camera Wizard transfers and compresses photos directly from a digital camera. You then can browse photos directly in WinZip Explorer, to view thumbnails, and drag and drop into folders.
WinZip 12 is available in two versions, Standard for $29.95, and Pro $49.95. The Standard version includes the new LZMA and JPEG compression for smaller archives, plus interface improvements. The Pro version adds the Zip from Camera Wizard, photo viewer, export via FTP and disc burning, administrative options, and job automation.
Just be aware that the snazzy new compression formats are not compatible with older versions of WinZip, so you'll need to be upgraded on any other systems where you want to use the archives. (WinZip does display a caution dialog about this.)
Also check out the associated WinZip E-Mail Companion, WinZip Self-Extractor, WinZip Command Line.
Go ahead and try it out -- Download the the free trial to use for 45 days -- www.winzip.com/downwz.htm
In my testing, the new JPEG compression was a definite improvement.
For example, a 107 KB JPEG file that compressed 6% to 100K with the default compression, now shrinks 22% to 84 KB with the "best" compression. And a 52 KB file that compressed 4% to 50 KB now compresses 17% to 43 KB.
To test photo files, I started with a collection of 300 photos for 590.6 MB (mostly in-camera JPEG compression), which reduced 1% to 588.7 MB with default compression, and 16% to 495.5 MB with the new "best" compression.
To test a mix of files, the archive of my website is 4K files and 85.1 MB, of which half are JPEG files (2700 JPEG files for 40.8 M). Of course, these are mostly low resolution web images, i.e., under 1 megapixel and 100 KB. The compressed archive reduced from 58.0 to 54.2 KB (mostly 80% compression of HTML files).
Photo Compression, Management and Sharing
Compression and Archives
Built-in E-Mail, FTP, and CD/DVD Burning
Encryption and Security
Task Automation Capabilities