First, my apologies for horrible grammar in this post’s title – I just could not resist a little literary allusion.  With that out of the way, my regular readers (both of them!) know that I rarely go off on product reviews unless something really good or really bad happens.  In this case, it’s both!

Camtasia for Mac

Quite some time ago I found myself needing to produce screen video tutorials.  I’d heard good things about TechSmith and their Camtasia for Mac product.  I also loved the fact that they offered an excellent 30-day free trial, so that was my introduction to Camtasia on the Mac.  I think I was but a few days into the free trial before I decided to buy a full license.  First, the software was only $99 at the time – an easy price point for me.  Second, I was so impressed with the software experience during the trial.  Admittedly, I had done quite a lot of video editing and production (my family might say a little too much production and not enough editing, having been all but forced to watch through my vacation videos!) so I was somewhat familiar with the process, but I found Camtasia for the Mac to be a joy to use.  Very intuitive, robust and beautifully designed.  Third, I loved all the excellent tutorials and user guides they provide, and finally, I found that their Screencast.com site was a great way to share videos with colleagues and clients.

Camtasia Studio

Recently, I had the need to write, produce and edit some screen video tutorials for a client.  The wrinkle, however, was that I had to do this from within their firewall, on one of their locked down Dell laptop PC’s.   They did not have any screenncasting software I could use, so I did a little investigation and found that TechSmith had a PC product called Camtasia Studio, so that was a natural choice for me.  My first shock was the price – whereas the Mac product was $99, the PC product was $299!  At $99, given my experience with the Mac version, I’d have simply purchased the PC version, but at $299, I thought I’d take advantage of the 30 day trial.  I’m glad I did!

Chalk and Cheese!

The Mac and PC products were completely different animals!  For all the ease of use and intuitive feel of the Mac product, the PC product was a very different beast – counter-intuitive and obscure.   While it was more fully featured than the Mac version (with features that I had never needed on the Mac) there were some very basic things it could not do that the Mac version handled with ease (or, at least, I could not figure out how to do after hours upon hours of viewing tutorials, user documentation and the excellent Community forums that TechSmith hosts).

More distressingly, over months of intensive Mac use, Camtasia for Mac had never so much as hiccuped, while Camtasia Studio on the PC fell over in a heap regularly – sometimes I was able to recover my work, but sometimes my work was lost!  I quickly learned my old habit from many years ago of saving my work every time I did anything.  (This was a habit I’d lost since moving to a Mac some years back.)

I don’t know the story behind these different versions.  I can imagine a couple of scenarios.  Here’s two conversations I imagine the product managers at TechSmith saying:

  1. “Hey, now we’ve got a few year’s experience under our belts with Camtasia Studio, it sure would be great to start over and really do it right!”  “Why don’t we do that with our planned Mac version?”  Or…
  2. “We need a Mac version of Camtasia Studio, and I’ve just come across  a great Mac screen video editor that I think we can acquire.  It won’t look anything like our PC product, but that’s doesn’t really matter – people are either Mac freaks or PC bigots – nobody will ever use both and realize they are different products!”

Whatever the real story behind these versions, TechSmith has a product they should be really proud of in their Mac version, and one they should rebuild from the ground up for the PC.

Graphic courtesy of Download Spy Software

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