CyberLink PowerProducer 2.0 test and review from Computer Video Magazine

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CyberLink PowerProducer 2.0

While many budget-conscious professionals are still waiting for the right DVD authoring software to come along, the beginner's market is awash with different programs. Can CyberLink's PowerProducer manage to stand out in a very big crowd?

There's a killing to be made at the prosumer level of DVD authoring - particularly on the Windows platform, where the biggest contender, Adobe Encore, remains buggy and temperamental. Regardless of this huge opportunity, software developers seem far more keen to address the entry-level instead - possibly because there's more revenue in pocket-money programs, and also because of the opportunities for OEM sales, as hardware companies seek out software to accompany their DVD burners or video capture devices.
And OEM sales are probably the main target for PowerProducer 2. It's developer, CyberLink, is also the company behind the PowerDVD software player, which comes supplied with countless DVD burners and DVD-ROM drives, as well as being pre-installed on many off-the-shelf Windows systems. But, even then, CyberLink has a lot of OEM competition. Roxio, Pinnacle and Ulead are being extremely aggressive with their own, very able, solutions.
PowerProducer looks great on paper - with a direct camcorder-to-disc wizard, menu-based DVD authoring tools, and even the means to edit discs that have been recorded in 'VR' mode (a formatting standard used by some set-top recorders). In an already crowded market, PowerProducer's success will depend on it offering something that the competition doesn't. And, to our minds, that means a step away from restrictive wizards, instead concentrating on an intuitive interface that actually encourages users to take control and be creative. Not too much to ask, surely?

Conclusion
CyberLink's PowerProducer is a curious mixture, blending safe, comfortable familiarity with innovative novelty. Its DVD authoring tools aren't overly impressive - we've already seen plenty of simple wizard-based authoring tools from Pinnacle (Expression), Ulead (DVD MovieFactory) and Sonic (MyDVD). All three do a better job - PowerDirector's lack of motion-menu support, in particular, puts it well behind these competitors.
But, the option to directly import from existing DVDs for use in new projects isn't yet standard, and nor is the ability to make editable DVDs - if paired with a player that can handle VR format discs. The disc-editing tools are impressive and worthwhile, too. Finally, the program's general disc utilities - particularly the ability to defrag rewritable DVD discs - are intriguing, and we're sure many enthusiasts will find them invaluable. Ultimately, PowerProducer is a handy spanner for the toolbox, if not much more.

Peter Wells

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

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