Pinnacle Liquid Edition 5.5 test and review

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Pinnacle Liquid Edition 5.5

As competition continues to simmer in the prosumer video editing software market, we're pleased to see developers pushing their products in different directions, with different ideas of what the user wants. Pinnacle Edition has long been a favourite of ours but - aside from a new name - what does Liquid Edition V5.5 bring to the party?

Edition remains the strongest contender for Premiere's crown, as Adobe fights to stay at the top of the Windows prosumer DV editing market. But Adobe is having a hard time of it. Pinnacle no longer bundles Premiere with its video hardware - it wants to push its own editor Edition instead. That means Adobe has lost its biggest customer for OEM bundling sales - which have, until now, been Premiere's lifeblood. With a healthy slice of the prosumer DV editing market under its thumb, Pinnacle is in a strong position with Edition - more so since Adobe shot itself in the foot by releasing Premiere Pro, which only really runs smoothly on the very latest, fastest PCs. For many, upgrading Premiere means buying a new editing system, but Edition has much more modest requirements, and Pinnacle even offers a special Premiere-to-Edition upgrade price of £199.
This is obviously a good time for Pinnacle to make a bold strike and, in the absence of a major upgrade, that means one thing - rebranding. The Liquid name has been floating around for a while now. Rumour has it that marketeers at Pinnacle were torn between the names Liquid and Edition when the company originally purchased and rebranded FAST's Studio XL software. Eventually, Edition was used for the standalone DV software, while Liquid was tagged onto the names of its turnkey editing systems for broadcast - Purple, Silver and Blue.

Our last-minute problems with Edition's MPEG encoding are worrying, but we don't think that the problems will affect all users on all systems - and that's not just wishful thinking; this doesn't seem to be a big issue on Pinnacle's Edition support forums.
That problem aside, Liquid Edition is still one of our favourite editing programs. It provides an intuitive, no-nonsense editing environment, and a fluid, versatile workflow, as well as very impressive effects editors when you need them. Its lack of 5.1 surround sound mixing and AC-3 encoding is a little disappointing - particularly as Edition also doubles as a DVD authoring program. Other than that, we can't think of many things that are missing when compared to the competition. And, for many editors, Edition's working environment will win out over any others' novelty bells and whistles.
That said, we are concerned that V5.5 seems to be pushing Liquid Edition in slightly the wrong direction. Almost everything here appears to be pitched squarely at the professional market, when Pinnacle could be taking advantage of a wide open prosumer arena. Pinnacle, seemingly, is chasing after Avid rather than delivering a death-blow to Adobe Premiere, something that Edition is perfectly capable of.

Read the full review in April 2004's Computer Video magazine.


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