Media suites are the software equivalent of Marmite – you either drool over them or they make you feel physically ill. But there’s no denying they usually represent excellent value for money compared to the cost of buying the individual components – and the latest version of CyberLink’s suite is no exception.
Media Suite 9 crams 12 CyberLink products into a single bundle, covering most common media editing, conversion and playback tasks. There’s also comprehensive set of disc burning tools, plus the now-obligatory social networking features for uploading photos and videos to Facebook and YouTube.
Nagging about upgrades
So far, so good. But look a little closer and oddities start to appear. Although you get the latest PowerDVD 10, the version of PowerDirector included is 8, rather than the latest version 9. To make matters worse, the program reminds you of this at every opportunity, with in-program adverts and pop-ups trying to entice you to upgrade. Sorry, CyberLink, but do you really expect users to fork out £90 for a brand new product only to be constantly reminded part of it is out of date – and ask for £75 to upgrade?
Disc burning tool Power2Go 7 also kept trying to get us to upgrade – to Power2Go 7. Plainly bonkers. Roxio Creator 2011, by contrast, has a single discreet advert for add-ons on the launcher console, which we can live with.
It’s a crying shame, as we generally like CyberLink’s software. So let’s put that gripe to one side for now and look at how the package hangs together.
How it performs
There’s no denying Media Suite 9 Ultra is capable of doing everything most users would want, and the individual applications share a similar look and feel (they’re all mostly black and grey with white text), even if the menu styles vary a little. This is in contrast to some of its rivals, such as Roxio Creator 2011 and Nero Multimedia Suite 10, which have a less integrated feel.
Programs can be launched individually from the Windows Start menu or via the program’s rather twee launcher console. The downside to this latter method is that you can’t get back to the console to launch another program while one is already open.
New to this Ultra version of the suite is MediaEspresso 6, a drag-and-drop media transcoding tool. The console told us no updates were available, but a patch to version 6.5 was (eventually) installed when we launched the program separately. It’s a handy tool, with presets for many brands and models of smartphone, media player and games console, or you can customise the output. It supports most media types, and can encode using H.264, DivX, WMV and MPEG-2 codecs to MP4, AVI, M2TS, WMV and MPG file formats (not all codecs are available for all formats).
Also added to the suite is support for 128GB BDXL Blu-ray discs, although you’ll need a compatible drive for these. Playback of 3D Blu-ray movies is also supported, and you can play back 2D movies to simulated 3D and upscaled HD in real-time (see our review of PowerDVD 10 for more information on this). Unlike Roxio’s latest suite, there are no 3D movie or photo creation features, however.
For the core tasks of video, photo and music editing (including HD video editing) and disc burning, it’s a very capable package, with fast and good quality transcoding, although the heavy integration of web services such as CyberLink’s MoovieLive and Director Zone can get a bit annoying after a while. A selection of DVD/Blu-ray menu templates and assorted video effects help add a bit of pizzazz to your creations, although some of them don’t look particularly professional. More can be downloaded free from the Director Zone.
As ever, there are two other cheaper versions of Media Suite 9 – the Pro version (£69.99) drops Blu-ray support and MediaEspresso; the Centra version (£49.99) ditches 3D support as well. A free 30-day trial of the Ultra version can be downloaded from CyberLink’s website, although it lacks the WaveEditor and InstantBurn modules.
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