CyberLink PowerDirector 9 review
Significant improvements to performance and effects handling make this an impressive update
Over the last couple of years we've seen PowerDirector evolve from an undistinguished application into a serious contender for the consumer video-editing crown. This latest update completes the transition with support for up to 100 tracks, powerful keyframe automation and a significant overhaul behind the scenes to speed up operation.
CyberLink makes a big fanfare over the fact that this is the first 64-bit consumer video-editing software. While 64-bit code brings only small improvements to most applications, it can make a big difference for video editing, as Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 has already demonstrated at the professional end.
To test it, we rendered a 15-minute AVCHD project with effects and overlays on our Core i7 870 PC with 8GB of RAM. PowerDirector Ultra 8 took 1hr 24mins, while version 9 did it in just 31 minutes. Yet Windows Task Manager revealed RAM wasn't the issue - both were well within the 2GB limit that 32-bit applications can address. The significant difference was CPU usage. Version 8 fluctuated between 20% and 60%, but version 9 went full throttle at 96%.
We replicated the project using our current favourite consumer video-editing software, Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum HD 10. This 32-bit application took 46 minutes, registering only 30% on the CPU meter. Clearly, there's more to video rendering than 32- and 64-bit code, but the bottom line is PowerDirector 9 Ultra64 is the fastest consumer editing software we've seen.
PowerDirector 8's preview performance was excellent, playing seven simultaneous AVCHD streams on our test PC. The downside was the fixed 320 x 180 preview resolution, which looked ugly and made precise edits tricky. Version 9 managed eight AVCHD streams at this resolution, but also adds the option to increase the preview resolution. It played six AVCHD streams at 640 x 360, four at 1,280 x 720 and three at 1,920 x 1,080 on our test PC. These are impressive achievements, and the ability to balance preview detail against smoothness is extremely welcome.
PowerDirector also retains its support for proxy files - low-resolution copies of HD clips generated on import for smooth previews, which revert to the original footage for export. It's an excellent system for HD editing on slower PCs, and one that's notably absent from most of PowerDirector's competitors.
|Price ex VAT||£68|
|Price inc VAT||£80|
|Ease of Use rating||5|
|Features & Design||4|
|Value for Money||5|
|Software subcategory||Video editing software|
Operating system support
|Operating system Windows Vista supported?||yes|
|Operating system Windows XP supported?||yes|
|Operating system Linux supported?||no|
|Operating system Mac OS X supported?||no|