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Old Jun 15, 2008, 8:19 AM   #1
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Here you go. Finally, a professional review of this fine editor.

FULL REVIEW HERE: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,2319829,00.asp

Consumers who want a video editor that has an extensive, highly usable feature set, works fabulously, and can input and speedily output all relevant formats should look to CyberLink PowerDirector 7 Ultra. This version represents an impressive improvement in the quality of the app, which, in a series of versions, went from a mediocre beginning to a cute but underpowered suite to what it is today: the best all-around consumer-editing app, and one that's well worthy of our Editors' Choice for consumer video editing.

A great interface can't save a poor editing application, but even the best app will fail without a good one. Over the past two versions, PowerDirector's interface has evolved from a vaguely toy-like presentation to a sleek, attractive workspace. This latest version features an adjustable interface that lets you customize the size of your preview window and timeline, as well as six independent picture-in-picture (PiP) tracks in addition to the original video, title, music, and narration tracks. Few users will ever need six more tracks. Still, it's good to know that they're there, and since you add them only when you need them, they don't clutter the interface.

Two new key features combine to make PowerDirector the first truly open editor. First and most important, users can now upload and share design elements like titles, DVD menus, PiP overlay objects, and other content to a new Web site called the directorZone. After signing up for the site, you upload your creations from within PowerDirector and can open a browser window to look for new content from within PowerDirector. You can download any desired elements, which are automatically installed into the proper folder for immediate use.

To my knowledge, this is the first content-sharing capability from within a consumer editor, and it's a killer feature for several reasons. First, it dramatically increases the content available for your productions. For example, though the site had been available for only a few weeks when I wrote my review, there were already 206 uploaded DVD menus, 95 title templates, 136 PiP objects, 141 frames, and 118 static objects. By way of comparison, the program itself ships with only 21 DVD menus, 70 title templates, and 66 objects. This multiplication of choices is a simple enough idea, but it makes a huge difference, especially at the consumer level, where not everyone is a designer or has the time to design their own menus. If you are a budding designer, however, and you've spent an hour or two creating a killer DVD menu, it's great to have a creative outlet for sharing it with other users and get their constructive criticism and congratulations.

In addition to directorZone, you can import pictures from Flickr and audio from Freesound for use in noncommercial titles. It's a good way to find a killer shot for your DVD menu or new background music for your slideshows. Sure, you could search and download both sites manually, but it's much more convenient do so within the program. Kudos to CyberLink for opening the editor and for debuting features that are sure to become must-haves for all products in the category. The program also offers a good range of additional output capabilities, including direct output to YouTube.
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