Adobe Premiere Elements 10 review

20 Sep 2011

A valuable update, particularly for 64-bit systems, but this isn't the polished product we expect from Adobe

Price when reviewed 
79
4

With Adobe's name on the box, Premiere Elements might seem like a safe choice for low-cost video editing. It's certainly not short of power, but we found version 9 to be compromised by unresponsive controls and uncompetitive preview performance.

Things are looking up in version 10. It's now available as a 64-bit application, and preview performance is much improved. We tested it in Windows 7 64-bit on a Core i7-870 PC with 8GB RAM, and it managed smooth previews of seven simultaneous AVCHD streams – up from two streams in version 9.

Footage from a Canon EOS 600D is more demanding because of its high 45Mbits/sec bit rate, but it still managed four simultaneous streams. When the frame rate began to drop, it happened dramatically, but the Render Work Area command let us cache complex sections of the timeline so we could keep working.

We're not so happy with the way Premiere Elements 10 puts frames up on the monitor. Even with only a single AVCHD stream, playback seemed a little jerky. We shot a 120fps slow-motion video of the monitor and discovered that it was dropping around 15% of frames.

The remaining ones were shown unevenly, with some appearing for four times as long as others. The problem persisted for interlaced and progressive scan footage at various frame rates, and even for standard-definition footage. Ultimately, it's not a disaster, but this isn't the standard we expect from Adobe.

Adobe Premiere Elements 10 - effects

It's also worth noting that the default Automatic preview mode uses a crude method of resizing footage to fit the preview window, which can result in a slightly blocky appearance and moiré interference. Switching from Automatic to Highest removed this problem, but also halved the number of simultaneous streams that would play on our test PC.

Then again, the option to trade preview detail against smoothness is a useful trick that Adobe could make more of. It flirted briefly with low-resolution proxy files in version 8, and it's a feature we wish it would re-implement.

Sadly, the responsiveness of the timeline controls and the interface in general remain poor. Simple actions such as zooming into the timeline, moving a clip or switching between the various tabbed panels were annoyingly slow, even with simple projects on our powerful PC. More complex projects containing lots of HD clips were almost unworkable.

After jumping to a point on the timeline and hitting the spacebar to commence playback, we sometimes had to wait for five seconds before the preview window sprang to life. More patient users may be able to bear it, but compared to the lightning-fast Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 11, it's a painful experience.

Details

Price ex VAT £66
Price inc VAT £79
Overall rating 4
Ease of Use rating 3
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 3
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? yes