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It hurts us to say it, but freeware can’t cover every situation. We've rounded up a Selection of software and web services that deserve your dollars
We’re huge fans of freeware at Maximum PC. Why pay for expensive software when a perfectly reasonable and fully functioning piece of freeware exists as a compelling alternative?
But sometimes this holy grail of applications doesn’t actually exist, or the freeware alternative lacks mission-critical features. That’s exactly what we’re exploring in this roundup. We’ve culled a variety of software and web services, covering all kinds of topics at all sorts of price points; if the task at hand is important to you, we think you’re best served by forking over some hard-earned cash.
It’s important to note that a number of the apps on our list have evaluation versions. There’s no shame in checking them  out as part of your decision-making process before swiping your card—that’s why demos exist, after all. Same goes for our list of web services. If they’re a bit too pricey or too overboard for your needs, feel free to consider the more limited free versions instead! We don’t mind. Our sole goal is to turn you on to some worthwhile software and services that just happen to cost some dough.
Record Your Desktop
Fraps
Tired of watching everyone else’s tutorials, game recordings, and hilarious outtakes on
YouTube? If you want to capture your own PC gaming videos, annoyance-free, Fraps is the way to go. Your small contribution will remove the watermarks present in the app’s free version and, more importantly, allow you to record videos as long—or as large—as you want. Capturing screenshots and recording your frames-per-second across your gaming binges is just as easy.
[url=/files/u152332/fraps_small_0.jpg]
$37,www.fraps.com
Camtasia Studio
Camtasia Studio isn’t the best choice if you’re looking to make videos of your gaming adventures, but it makes up for that by offering a compelling recording, editing, and publishing experience for just about everything else. This is the app you’ll want to have if you’re interested in making high-quality movies of your normal Windows experience—for, say, tutorials on how to use a particular app from this roundup!
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$300,
www.techsmith.com
Apple Cloning
Objectdock
OK, let’s just admit it and be done with it: The taskbar found in OSX—you know, the “Dock” that magnifies and contracts whenever you move your mouse over the icons—is pretty neat. It might not be as functionally superior as the Windows Start menu, but since you won’t find that either in Windows 8, slapping a lovely Apple-like Dock at the bottom of your screen can be a pleasing mix of function and form.
[url=/files/u152332/objectdock_small_0.jpg]
$20,www.stardock.com
PDF Editing
Foxit Advanced PDF Editor
In the wide world of PDF manipulation, it’s rare that you’ll find a program for viewing and editing PDFs that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Adobe’s “industry-standard” app, Acrobat, will set you back a cool $300 for the full version—all that, just for the convenience of being able to edit and manipulate PDF documents you’ve created or downloaded. Our solution? Foxit’s app, which is just as feature-filled for one-third of the price.
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$100,
www.foxitsoftware.com
Video Editing
Lightworks
Billed as the only video editing application that’s, “designed by editors, for editors,” the Lightworks program supports a whole host of video and audio formats for your clips, which you can then jam onto a super-advanced, codec-independent timeline that lets you add effects and transitions, or make adjustments to speeds and levels, in real time. Be sure to try out the free version before you plunk down your cash on this app, just in case you’re not actually trying to turn your home movies into IMAX-worthy creations.
[url=/files/u152332/lightworks_small_1.jpg]
$60/year,www.lwks.com
Click the next page to read about Adobe's suite of software.
 

 
Adobe After Effects
Oof. Video manipulation ain’t cheap. But Adobe’s After Effects is really the end-all, be-all of consumer visual-effects applications. We almost want to put “consumer” in quotes, because this product definitely sits outside the range of your average video amateurs who want to learn how to add a little pizazz—or lightsabers—to their backyard clips. At least Adobe offers a subscription service for folks who want to dabble with a slew of rendered effects without going bankrupt.
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$1000 retail or $20/month for one year subscription,
www.adobe.com
Adobe Premiere Pro
It might seem like we’re riding the Adobe train with our video recommendations. It's for a reason. Premiere Pro remains the (Windows-based) industry standard for an app that can handle video importing, editing, and exporting all at once. That’s important to mention, because you can hodgepodge your way through cursory video editing using a variety of freeware tools. Once you’re ready to get serious about edits, transitions, rendering—the whole nine yards—Premiere Pro will give you great stability and speed for your investment. 
[url=/files/u152332/premiere_small_0.jpg]
$800 or $20/month for one year subscription,www.adobe.com
Talking to your computer
Dragon Naturally Speaking 12
You can talk to your smartphone and, with luck, it can transcribe what you’re yelling at it in the car. Unfortunately, speech recognition on your desktop or laptop computer is a bit lacking. While the feature does come bundled within Windows 7 and Windows 8, Microsoft’s implementation of voice analysis—specifically, its speed and accuracy—leaves much to be desired versus the capabilities of third-party apps like Dragon Naturally Speaking 12. With a bit of voice training, you’ll be dictating to your desktop in no time.
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$100,
www.nuance.com
Tax Preparation
TurboTax
Easy. Simple. Infrequently wrong—at least, not as wrong as you’d probably be if you attempted to do your taxes the (more painful) long way. The simplicity of TurboTax, even when faced with crazy deductions and other assorted pains of owning a small business (or working as a freelancer), means you’ll likely be able to wrap up your yearly taxes after only a single night’s work. Enjoy your free Federal filing!
[url=/files/u152332/turbotax_small_0.jpg]
Deluxe (Federal and State taxes): $50 online,$70 CD/download,www.turbotax.intuit.com
Click the next page to check out Wi-Fi hotspot software and more.
 

 
Wi-Fi Hotspot
Connectify
Here’s the problem: You’re in a hotel with easy access to Ethernet-based Internet. You also want to get on the web using your tablet, smartphone, or another laptop, but the hotel’s wireless Internet is horrible.
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Solution? Connectify. This awesome pro-gram transforms your laptop or Wi-Fi-equipped desktop into an access point. Assuming that your networking bits and pieces all play nicely—it’s worth checking out Connectify’s trial version just to make sure—you’ll be able to unleash your own password-protected Wi-Fi hotspot for anyone to use. The app even lets you share the connection from 3G and 4G LTE USB dongles!
$45 (lifetime license),
www.connectify.me
Blu-ray Playback
ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5
Because it costs so darn much for Microsoft to license the right codecs, there’s absolutely no way that the ability to play Blu-ray discs is ever going to find a home in Windows Media Player on a standard version of the Windows operating system. While you can play unprotected Blu-rays with the freeware app VLC, you still have to cough up cash for an awesome third-party app like ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5 if you want to (legally) watch The Avengers on your system. 
[url=/files/u152332/acrsoft_totalmedia_small_0.jpg]
$100,www.arcsoft.com
Multi-Monitor Happiness 
DisplayFusion
If you’re one of those stalwarts who plans to wait out Windows 8, then you’re going to want—nay, need—an app that offers better support for multi-monitor setups than the pitiful options found in Windows 7 or Windows Vista.
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DisplayFusion gives you increased control over your multi-monitor setup, including the ability to set up taskbars that span your screens as well as separate wallpapers and screensavers for each monitor. We love it so much that we believe this app should come packaged with every new monitor purchase.
$35,
www.displayfusion.com
Mouse Laziness 
ReMouse
And here you thought macros for Microsoft Excel were cool. ReMouse allows you to make a recording of your mouse and keystrokes over a given time period. You can then save that recording to a file, load it up at a later date, and play back your actions once, loop them a set number of times, or loop them forevermore.
[url=/files/u152332/remouse_small_0.jpg]
Purchasing the app’s standard edition unlocks Smart Recording, which will ensure that your recorded movements always match loaded apps based on the relative position of the Window when it appears.
$39,www.remouse.com
Click the next page for desktop organization programs, spreadsheet apps, and more.
 

 
Desktop Organization
Fences
It has to be said: The organizational elements of [url=
03-12-2013, 11:53 AM
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