You can kill two birds with one stone, people sometimes cheerfully remark, as if this were a good thing. They never seem to point out that you’d have to be a vicious, animal-hating sadist to do so; albeit an efficient one. But if it’s efficiency you want, then DVD Suite 5 Pro kills ten birds with one stone – figuratively speaking, so don’t be phoning the RSPCA about CyberLink. The suite contains ten utilities that handle everything DVD related, and all these programs are seamlessly integrated under one very tidy central interface.
For playing movies, CyberLink’s own PowerDVD (version 6 Express) is included. It uses CLEV 2 (CyberLink Eagle Vision) technology, which is supposed to adjust image contrast and brightness for a richer picture. Obviously this varies according to your LCD display and its settings, but watching several of our favourite DVDs we did indeed find the picture quality impressive.
The controls are accessed via a pop-up bar that allows you to play/pause and so on, plus skip directly to any point in the movie, and a shuttle dial is also included for fast-forwarding, slow-mo and reverse playback. A single click resizes wide-screen movies to full screen, or indeed 4:3 can be resized to wide-screen, and all common video formats are supported by the player, including the new high-definition MPEG-2 HD and WMV-HD.
A range of icons is provided for accessing various disc burning tasks, so you can quickly produce an MP3 DVD, WAV CD or whatever, and the burning process is very straightforward. There’s an audio CD ripper and you can also format a rewritable disc to use with the suite’s InstantBurn function. This basically formats the DVD in UDF format, which allows you to then drag and drop files directly onto it in Windows Explorer, just as if it was a removable drive. Very handy.
CyberLink PowerDirector 5 Express is the video editing arm of the suite. This allows you to embroider your plain footage with title sequences, a range of transitions (the usual slides and fades as well as some fancier effects), voice-overs (using a microphone) and background music. Unfortunately, the special effects menu is locked out and requires upgrading to PowerDirector Deluxe, but there’s still a decent range of options here, and more importantly for beginners there are “magic” tools.
No, not Paul Daniels, rather these are wizards that automatically perform various functions, such as Magic Fix (stabilises shaky footage) and Magic Clean (enhances colours and reduces audio noise). These are a great idea and they do a good job too. There’s even a wizard that will edit your entire movie for you, with a choice of twelve themes, albeit ones that only employ fairly basic titles and transitions. This is first-rate stuff for novices, although more demanding users may find the editing features on the thin side.
Once you’ve finished off your masterpiece, the PowerProducer program supplies functional authoring and burning functions allowing you to create a DVD with a smart looking main menu. Once again, it’s very user friendly.
As well as all this, DVD Suite 5 also boasts a basic image editor, facilities to create your own photo slide-shows, a DVD copying utility (which allows for disc-to-disc copying), a simple backup and archiving program and a label designer for that final finishing touch in the form of a printed inlay. It’s a very complete package.
It’s also worth noting that the standard version of DVD Suite 5 costs £20 less than the Pro package we’ve reviewed here, although it lacks PowerDirector and has only a ‘lite’ version of the backup and archiving utility.
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