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Review: CyberLink Media Suite 8 Ultra

25 February 2010, Mike Williams

CyberLink Media Suite 8 Ultra is a comprehensive set of tools, no less than ten full-featured CyberLink products, that provides just about everything you’ll need to capture and edit video, watch and author DVDs and Blu-ray discs, organise and fix your digital photos. Plenty of functionality, then, but there needs to be – this is a tough market. Does Media Suite 8 have what it takes to stand out from the crowd? We took a closer look.

PowerDirector 8 HE is perhaps the lead program here, a fast video editor that’s easy to use, yet packed with interesting options. A particle effects generator can add snow to your videos, video noise reduction enhances video quality (especially low-light clips), and a speed control generates new frames to produce smooth slow motion effects.

NVIDIA CUDA and ATI Stream support help ensure above-average editing performance, and when your video is complete then PowerDirector can burn it to anything from a VideoCD or DVD-Video, to Blu-ray disc. Good AVCHD support makes it easy to export HD clips, even on DVD discs, and watch them later on a Blu-ray player.

PowerDVD 9 BD Express should be the best choice if you’re viewing your creations on a PC, though. Strong support for Blu-ray, HDMI 1.3 and all the HD formats – AVCHD, AVCREC, MPEG-4 AVC (H.264), MPEG-2 HD and WMV-HD – means the program will get the very best out of your high definition content, and CyberLink’s TrueTheater upscaling technology will deliver better results from your old DVDs, too.

If you’re more interested in images or organisation, then MediaShow 5 Deluxe can help. The program can use its FaceMe technology to automatically recognise the faces in images (like Picasa, only much faster), tag them accordingly, and even directly upload complete albums to Facebook. Common image problems (red-eye, brightness and contrast issues, straightness and more) can be fixed with a click, useful though no substitute for a full image editor. And the finished photos can then quickly be turned into quality video slideshows.

MediaShow has plenty of video-based functionality, too. There are simple editing and trimming features; 1-click video fixes to stabilise shaky videos, reduce noise or fix colour and brightness issues; fast video format conversion tools; and the ability to directly export your best clips to Facebook or YouTube.

You also get PowerProducer 5 Ultra, which can import footage directly from your video camera and transfer it directly to DVD or Blu-ray; Power2Go 6 Deluxe caters for all your regular CD, DVD and Blu-ray burning needs; and there are additional tools to edit audio files, design and print labels, and back up your hard drive.

Some of these latter tools are on the basic side: the label printer doesn’t come with any templates, for instance, and the backup program and audio editor aren’t up to the standards of the best freeware.

And the suite as a whole doesn’t work quite as well as we’d like. There’s more focus on video functionality than you’ll probably need, with multiple ways of doing the same thing, while other features are notable by their absence: there’s a real need for a quality image editor, for instance.

None of this seems quite so important when you remember what you’re paying for CyberLink Media Suite 8, though. For only a little more than the price of Adobe Premiere Elements, this suite delivers a comparable video editor, probably the best PC movie player around in PowerDVD, and MediaShow, an excellent media manager. The Suite would be worth buying for these tools alone – throwing in everything else only makes it even more of a bargain.

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