Ulead VideoStudio 10.0 Plus

Ulead's VideoStudio 10.0 Plus is aimed at both first-time users and more experienced editors, so it's designed to combine ease of use with powerful features. Coming in at $60 more than Easy Media Creator and $10 more than Premiere Elements, it's very competitively priced - but at $199, it's certainly no budget offering.

Version 10.0 of Ulead's flagship package adds several features, including complete support for HD (high definition). It can capture TV or camcorder footage and burn discs in this format. It also includes the WinDVD 7.0 software for HD playback.

Recognising that those who have invested in a HDV camcorder may not have a powerful workstation designed for professional video editing, Ulead has come up with a solution for those who want to work on massive HD video files using a standard PC. This neat trick is called Smart Proxy, and has been filtered down from the company's high-end MediaStudio Pro 8.0 software.

Smart Proxies work by trimming down HD files so you can work on manageable low-resolution versions - thus not slowing your PC to a standstill. When you have finished editing, the changes are automatically applied to the original HD files.

Footage on the go

Ulead VideoStudio Plus 10.0 allows you to turn footage into Mpeg4 files for use on portable products such as the iPod or PSP (PlayStation Portable). It bundles templates to help you create compatible files and even includes a batch format-conversion feature. Another new feature is support for Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, and you can now upsample older stereo recordings to simulate surround sound.

The software is fairly easy to use, with three ways to edit video: the main VideoStudio Editor; Movie Wizard, which automatically turns your footage into films; and DV-to-DVD Wizard, which transfer clips from tape to DVD. The interface has been tidied up, but the plethora of tabs and menus could still confuse novices.

High definition: the pros and cons explained

HD (high definition) looks set to be the video standard for the not-too-distant future. Sky and Telewest are already touting HDTV boxes that will pipe HD images to customers prepared to pay for the technology. The main advantage is that HDTV uses more pixels than standard TV to make up the image, providing higher-quality images.

Typically, a PAL TV resolution consists of 576 lines, while HDTV uses either 1,080 or 720. It's broadcast in a different aspect ratio - 16:9 as opposed to 4:3 on standard TV. HD video takes up more space, so it'll require new DVD formats to get the most out of it. HD-DVDs will be able to store up to 30GB (45GB is rumoured) on a dual-layer disc, while the competing Blu-ray standard may be boasting 50GB discs in a few months.

You'll need a television capable of supporting the high resolutions - most current screens support standard resolutions only. The movie industry looks likely to take a giant step into the world of HD, with most Hollywood studios planning to distribute films in that format. Inevitably, these will require new DVD players - the early versions of which are just going on sale in the US and Japan.

Verdict: The wealth of new features will appeal to both existing and new users. Complete novices can have the whole job of editing taken out of their hands by the Movie Wizard, but the full Editor provides all the tools required to edit your films, along with support for all the latest formats and standards.

Price: $199

System requirements: Pentium 4 processor or later; Microsoft Windows 2000 SP4/XP SP2 or higher; 256MB RAM (512MB recommended); 1GB hard disk space for installation; 4GB for video capture and editing

Rating: 4.5/5

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