A Swiss Army knife for music and video files
Media Suite 8 is a collection of programs for viewing and editing media files and creating CD, DVD or Blu-ray discs.
It includes PowerDVD 9 and Powerdirector 8 for watching and editing videos, Mediashow 5 for organising photos, Wave Editor for editing audio and Power Producer 5 for capturing video from a camcorder. There are also tools for backing up data, copying discs, printing disc labels, converting audio to the MP3 format, ripping audio CDs and sharing media online.
The application launcher saves users from having to memorise what each application does and minimises time spent digging through menus. It provides a long list of tasks that users might want to perform, such as 'play a movie disc'. Select a task and Media Suite automatically loads the relevant application, most of the time with the correct window open and ready to go.
While you may not own a camcorder or a Blu-ray recorder, there are plenty of tools in Media Suite 8 for more general use, often with extras that aren’t usually found in free alternatives. For example the True Theatre HD feature of PowerDVD 9 can enhance the visual quality of DVDs by upscaling the video so it looks better on high-definition screens. Mediashow can automatically locate images on your hard disk by selecting one person’s face – the program will mark all the other photos it finds with the same face.
You can directly upload photos to Facebook or Flickr from Media Suite 8, with options to resize Flickr images or set the privacy options for your Facebook photos directly. Uploading video to Youtube was just as straightforward.
There are three versions of Media Suite 8 available, all containing the same applications. The basic Centra package omits such features as Blu-ray support (the Pro version in the middle can create such discs but can’t play them back while the highest Ultra one can do both). It also can't be used to view high-definition video files.
While these are nice to have, most of the rest of the package is intact, and despite the low price point, the Centra version is still full of tools to keep on top of your digital media, and is therefore outstanding value for money, especially for those who don’t use Blu-ray discs.
For a full comparison of all the versions, click here to see the comparison table on Cyberlink's website.
Some of the applications, for example Mediashow, may not have as many image editing options as more expensive dedicated programs such as Adobe Photoshop Elements, but the basic tasks used by most people such as cropping and red-eye reduction are all there.
It's hard to see what else could realistically be added at this price, and most importantly, all of the applications are easy to use.
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The Centra edition is great value, but the more expensive versions don’t add much unless you have a Blu-ray drive in your PC Good points Easy to use; crammed full of applications Bad points More expensive versions add little to the main package
£50 (Centra); £65 (Pro); £100 (Ultra)
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