CyberLink PowerDirector 7 Ultra - PC review

Chances are, if you’ve bought a camcorder or a TV tuner for your PC in the last few years then you’ll be aware of CyberLink, as it bundles its software with a vast number of devices. Its software tends to be adequate for the entry-level user but it’s often been the case that you’ll quickly out-grow it.

With PowerDirector 7 this may be all about to change, as this is the first media suite we’ve seen from the company that feels like a complete package. There are two versions on offer Ultra (£60) and Deluxe (£40). Both have the same look and are similarly both capable of importing most formats. The difference between the two comes when you try and copy your edited footage to disc, as on Ultra supports AVCHD as well as burning to Blu-ray. This may be a subtle difference but it’s worth bearing in mind if you’re thinking of stepping up to HD any time soon.

There has been a move of late to change the backgrounds in media packages to graphite grey and PowerDirector is among the trend. The thinking behind this is that the image or video you’re editing comes sharper into display while the program you are using just subtly sits in the background.

The interface has the standard display and consists of a main editing window with timeline along the bottom of the screen. On the left-hand side there is a vastly improved window that displays control that can be added. Overall, this works well and the interface lacks nothing and makes using the software easy.

Along the top of the screen are four different tabs: Capture, Edit, Produce and Create Disc. Once again, this is a fairly standard concept, with each section having its own set of tools. When it comes to importing video, this is a fairly robust program, as we found that it could easily identify and handle most devices and formats attached to our test PC.

When it comes to new features, you’ll find plenty of tools to work with. Aside from support for HD content, you can now have six Picture-in-Picture tracks and add up to seven layered effects. The new tools for automating editing and generally making the tools easy to use are a step forward. However, there is little documentation and with no real beginner’s tutorials you’ll need a little experience to get the most from this product.

If you don’t want to enhance your own video, or even if you just want to create links between two pieces, you can import content from Flickr and Freesound, which is a simple royalty-free audio library. This works really easily as CyberLink has created a section that allows you to log-in directly to your own account in such services from within PowerDirector and draw it directly into your projects.

Naturally, when exporting content you can burn to disc but in the same way you can import control from within the program, you can now export directly to YouTube. CyberLink expect to add other clients to this list as the idea develops.

Verdict

CyberLink PowerDirector 7 may not be as slick or as quick as the market leaders from Adobe and Pinnacle, but you get the feeling that with this package at least CyberLink has caught up in terms of features and ease of use. This is a good all-round suite of tools and offers great value for money.