If you’ve just gone to the expense of upgrading your PC to include Windows Vista you may not be looking to spend more on extending the multimedia functions of Media Centre – that is if your version came with it in the first place. However, Cyberlink has put together a suite of six tools that certainly offer great value for money and will help you get more from your video and TV habits.

As with any media centre software, you can use Media Deluxe Pro to catalogue and view your digital images, music and movies, as well as pre-set and record your favourite television shows. What’s more, you can choose to record TV programmes straight to DVD. While this will save hard disk space, you’ll need a high-end specced PC, as this is a seriously heavy hardware task to run.

The look is quite impressive and follows the look laid down by Vista’s Media Centre but with this software you can do a great deal more. For instance, there are wider controls for Vista’s HD and widescreen optimisation tools and it will even allow you to add more than one receiver, so you can switch between digital and terrestrial tuners and record both at the same time. MagicSports is a feature that is able to automatically recognise when something exciting is happening on screen and records it for future playback. It’s a bit limited at the moment as will only work with football and some American sports, such as Baseball, but we’ve been assured this will grow to include other sports in time.

SoftDMA is a feature that allows you to stream commericla video and audio over networks that support DNLA-certified media players. One of the best features, and something that isn’t supported in most Freeview boxes, is time-shift support. This allows you to watch a programme you’re already recording at any point that has already been shown. This is good, as it means you don’t need to miss anything or have to wait until the end of the show.

For those who simply want to edit and share they own media, there are a number of tools that are basic but help to get the job done. PhotoNow and MagicDirector both offer basic editing and burning to disc functions for your photos and videos, respectively. The controls may be simple but there is support for both HD DVD and Blu-ray, so if you’ve invested in a rewriter then you can make the most of it.

Price when reviewed:

If you’re serious about using your PC as a media hub for all you digital content then you can do a lot worse than Cyberlink Media Deluxe Pro.

While not all the tools are as equally powerful, it’s a great suit of tools, at a good price that will seriously enhance the usability of your multimedia files.