Pinnacle Studio 9 test and review

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Pinnacle Studio Plus 9

The latest version of Pinnacle's well-spec'd budget video editor adds a lot of welcome new features, but is it any more trustworthy than what's gone before?

Pinnacle has always amazed us with its Studio software for entry-level DV editing. Unlike many other programs at this level, Studio has been designed with the actual job of editing in mind, rather than simply being loaded with tacky special effects. The interface is visual and intuitive, and the package on the whole has always been packed with genuinely useful (and often quite ingenious) features. In recent years, however, we've been equally amazed at the program's flakiness and Pinnacle's inability to keep Studio's head above water.
The Plus version of Studio isn't a full point upgrade, but does offer a number of significant new features - some of which may have been a response to the knowledge of Adobe's imminent launch of a low-cost but reasonably well spec'd video editor, Premiere Elements. Perhaps most significant are the addition of a further video track to allow multi-track editing and the ability to burn DVD Videos to Double Layer DVD+R discs. The list also includes pan-and-zoom filters for still images used in slideshows. The additional video timeline allows A/B editing, along with picture-in-picture effects and chromakey - for superimposing a foreground image over a greenscreen or bluescreen background.
Initially, Studio Plus V9 is being sold as a step-up from the original Studio 9, with existing users able to upgrade for £40. However, although upgrades will still be available, it looks likely that the Plus version will soon replace the original, which, though priced at £55 on Pinnacle's own net store, is available for £40 from third-party online shops such as

Each revision of Studio since V7 has been a very able editor, and each has been well thought out in terms of features, favouring useful tools rather than gimmicks. Even with its growing focus on effects, version 9 Plus carries on in the right direction.
But we were much irritated by the hard-sell for optional extras and chargeable plug-ins that Pinnacle has worked into the program. A one-button link to an online updates service would be a much better idea than being faced with a new shopping cart every other click!
However, Studio showed an even less appealing side with its refusal to allow stereo AC-3 activation and reluctance to burn a disc. When Studio behaves well, there isn't another program at this market level that can touch it, but we're all too aware that earlier versions could become quite ugly during disc burning on different systems on a wide variety of PC configurations. What's needed is a massive rewrite of the underlying code, rather than simply heaping more code on top for extra features. Before buying, we strongly recommend a visit to Pinnacle's online help forums for this product, to try to gauge whether it will work for you. If in doubt, consider Ulead and Roxio alternatives or low-cost offerings from Adobe and Sony, if our forthcoming reviews are favourable.

Peter Wells

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Panasonic NV-GS400B
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Pinnacle Liquid Edition 6 Pro
Windows analogue and digital video editing software, £600

Pinnacle Studio Plus 9
DV editing software for Windows, £60

Sony DCR-HC1000
Three-CCD consumer camcorder, £989

Wacom Intuos 3
A4 graphic input device with pen and mouse, £345

In February's news:

HD-compatible Canopus Edius Pro 3;
Ulead cut-price DVD Workshop options;
Acronis Windows disk imaging software, True Image 8;
Mediachance's no-nonsense DVD authoring with DVD-lab Pro;
Cut-price HD-compatible hardware/software Edius bundle from Canopus;
Apple Motion training with Motion PowerStart;
Video Forum 2005 preview; multi-format optical disc recorder with 160GByte HDD from LiteOn;
V7 of 3ds max from Discreet; enhanced video editing, authoring, streaming and digital imaging with Nero Reloaded

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