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CyberLink Media Suite consists of 11 programs from CyberLink for media playback and editing.

Many people will find some of these, if not the entire suite, on a new PC. However, these may be an older release or you may have upgraded your hardware and the software you have is no longer suitable (e.g. adding a Blu-Ray player). CyberLink Media Suite 10 (or CMS10 as I’ll now refer to it) is the latest iteration with the latest version of each piece of software within it.

There are 2 versions available – Pro (retailing at £75.99) and Ultra (£99.99). You get the same programs in each but the Pro version has some different capabilities – a lack of Blu-Ray playback , HD audio and 3D capabilities in particular.

InstantBurn 5

InstantBurn is a program that sits in your system tray and adds a rather spectucular new feature to your optical drive. By inserting a re-writeable disk (whether it’s CD, DVD or even Blu-Ray) it will treat it like a removable disk (for example, a large format floppy drive). You can drag and drop files from folders, send unwanted files to the Recycle Bin for deletion, rename files, and change file property information.

Personally, I thought I was never going to use my CD-RW and DVD-RWs again but this adds a new lease of life to them.

LabelPrint 2.5

This is precisely what you’d guess it is – it assists in the generation of labels for your optical disks (including MiniDiscs). It has a simple 4 step process…

  1. Select the disk type
  2. Edit the track listing
  3. Design the layout – this uses a drag-and-drop interface to allow you to add text and images. You can even choose the type of labels you’re using for a more specific set-up
  4. Print

Incredibly simply to use and you can save your resulting designs.

MediaShow 6

MediaShow is CyberLink’s equivalent of Google Picasa. It allows you to easily import and organise both your photos and videos. It has basic editing features for both too, including automated “fixing” tools. It will also, though, organise and edit 3D photos and videos – one of the features that sets it apart from others.

There is automatic face tagging (which, although didn’t work brilliantly seemed to be on a par with similar products), you can create slideshows and even easily burn your photos and videos to disc.

Some of the social features help set it apart, though. A new Facebook option allows you to quickly and easily view your friend’s Facebook photos and face tags labelled within this application will automatically be shared with Facebook as well (so you don’t have to duplicate the effort!). It also provide you with a handy calendar view – allowing you to move through a virtual calendar to view your media.

Photos, for some reason, look more crisp and clean when viewed in MediaShow and, overall, this program looks better and feels nippier than Picasa and makes it well worth investing in.

MediaEspresso 6.5

MediaEspresso is one of those odd sorts of utilities that you never think of having but once tried can’t imagine how you’d do without it.

Launch the application and drag some media to it – music, video, photo, whatever. Then you can select from a wide range of devices (phones, media players, games consoles, etc) or an upload location (Facebook or YouTube) and MediaEspresso will convert the media into the appropriate format. There are lots of options for tweaking and it makes full use of the capabilities of your PC to do it as quickly as possible.

To top this off there’s a gadget that will sit on your desktop – you simply drag your media files to that to start the conversion process.

The only downside I could find is a lack of support in the games console section – Xbox, PS3 and PSP are covered by PS Vita, Wii, DSi and 3DS are strangely absent.

Power2Go 8

Power2Go allows you to burn data or media to optical disk (whether it’s CD, DVD or Blu-Ray). When launched it presents a simple icon based menu where you select what you want – for example, to copy a disk. From there is takes you to a number of possible sub-options.

Copying data and music to disks is, as you’d expect, as is the ability to create a video disk (it simply copies an existing video folder to the disc). The photo option, however, creates a photo gallery and there are a number of personalisation options, including specifying titles, background image and music, etc.

The disk copy option allows you to do just that, or rip the content of a disk to your hard drive or even create a disk based on an image you have stored.

Finally, you have the utilities section which allows you to create mixed-format disks (e.g. an audio disk which also has data on it), rip audio CDs, create a virtual drive from an image and convert audio files between formats.

As with MediaEspresso there is a desktop gadget available that adds simple drag-and-drop burn capability.

All-in-all a very useful utility that adds a number of much needed recording capabilities to your PC.

PowerBackup 2.6

PowerBackup is the serious member of the Media Suite family as it’s intended for manual and automated computer backups.

It’s quite slow to start up and offers full or incredmental backups of selected files and folders. Unfortunately, it will only backup to optical or fixed hard drives – no removable drives, network, etc. This severely limits its potential – you’ll probably end up having to backup to optical disk unless you just happen to have a 2nd hard drive installed in your computer.

There are a few options and the backups can be scheduled but that’s it. The lack of the ability to backup to removable drives means that I wouldn’t really recommend this as a suitable backup solution.

PowerDVD Copy 1.5

A simple DVD copier this allows you to copy to another DVD or to your hard drive. When copying you can choose which languages to copy, which can help to reduce the size. and although it shows frame rates, video size, etc, these can’t be changed.

Sadly, it doesn’t support Blu-Rays and, worst of all, it won’t work with copy-protected DVDs (which is most commercial DVDs). As a result the only DVDs you are likely to be able to copy are those you already own anyway.

This is certainly the week link in this compilation.

PowerDirector 10

I first looked at PowerDirector 2 years ago where I compared it against a number of other video editing packages intended for the home user. PowerDirector came out top and I bought a copy of it for myself. In the intervening years, nothing has changed as I still think PowerDirector is the best amateur video editor. Having said that, it does contain a number of professional features too.

Version 10 adds in 3D capabilities. But, as before, it choc full of effects and tools. Editing is incredibly simple and they provide both a simple and advanced mode.

I won’t go into the detail of it’s working as, to be honest, it works like most of other video editors on the market with a timeline along the bottom onto which you can drag video and sound elements. From here you can cut, splice and add your effects, including chrome key, tilt-shift, time lapse and particle effects.

PowerDirector have a great showcase of example videos which are worth looking at.

As I say, nothing has changed – this is still, for me, the best video editor for the home user.

PowerDVD 12

PowerDVD has come on quite a bit since I last used it.

In the past PowerDVD, for me, has always been the de facto DVD player software. My most recent version added Blu-Ray support. Now, though, it’s changed to a full-blown media player with music playback and even a store. The store, however, doesn’t allow downloads but simply allows you to record which films you’ve seen or want and then if you want to buy anything it leads you to Amazon to buy a physical copy. It even looks up movies as you watch them to allow you to add them to your list, review them, etc. Once on your list your library can be synced with the website MoovieLive. All of this create a real feeling of a hub for your media.

It detects home media servers and can even show media from Facebook, YouTube and Flickr.

However, it is movie playback that PowerDVD is most associated with. Unlike past versions with over-complex menus and controls this version simplifices everything with a “pop out” remote control which sits in its own floating window. This allows for the more complex options whilst the toolbar contains your basic controls. My PC is not exactly the most powerful around (it’s running a mobile AMD Neo X2 processor) but even with a Blu-Ray playing both cores barely went over 50%. It will also up scale DVD as well to HD quality.

One of the most stand-out features of PowerDVD is its ability to convert movies to 3D. Don’t worry if you don’t have a special 3D monitor, as the options include anaglyph (the traditional red/blue glasses) which requires no special hardware. The results are actually really good all things considered. Sadly my PC couldn’t take it and both cores were maxed out during playback and the resulting video was jerky. If, though, you have a much more modern, powerful PC then this will be a brilliant addition. If you have a special 3D monitor then, even better.

Lastly, there’s PowerDVD Remote, an app available for Android and iOS phones. A free version is available for some versions of PowerDVD but for most users there will a small outlay. This uses your WiFi to allow your phone to control the PowerDVD application via a very smart interface. You can ever use it to send files between your PC and phone.

To say I’m impressed with this product is an under statement. However, you’ll need a powerful PC to really reap all the benefits.

PowerProducer 5.5

Giving you the ability to create video and slideshow discs, including straight from camcorder, this is a great companion to Power2Go. As well as being able to make basic editing you can also add buttons, titles and effects.

First of all you select what output you wish – Video CD, DVD, Blu-Ray, AVCHD or AVCREC. You can then import your video, divide the result into chapters, and add menus and music. As I said before basic editing is possible and templates are available. Once done you create your disc or upload to YouTube (although I couldn’t work out how to get the latter to work).

For creating video discs for friends and family this is particular good, and easy to use.

PowerStarter

PowerStarter is not a program that’s sold separately, but is used to control all of the above applications.

It divides all of the programs into appropriate categories and then presents a number of actions that you might want to perform. Clicking on the action that you require will then launch the appropriate program to carry this out.

Simple, but effective.

Conclusions

First of all, I’d like to get out of the way the things that I didn’t like about CMS10 (other than the individual program issues that I’ve already mentioned)…

  • Cyberlink products like to push registration (the first time you launch each application) and, in particular,  upgrading. Where other programs would only prompt after checking, you get a permanent upgrade icon in the top bar of each application, as well as often having the same within a menu somewhere. When you’re using the latest version of a program there really isn’t an excuse to be suggesting upgrading.
  • After installing CMS10, I found it had taken over all my media file permissions which meant that, for example, music played through PowerDVD. This should be an option during installation and not default.
  • The interfaces are inconsistent across each program. Not wildly so, but I’m sure it can’t be too hard to have the same look and feel for each.
  • It lacks an audio editor – the one thing that’s obviously missing from the collection.
  • I understand that each of the programs are sold separately but I think some could do with being merged as part of this suite as they have such symbiotic functionality it’s annoying to keep having to swap between different applications. Some also have similar functionality, such as PowerProducer and PowerDirector.

But none of these are deal breakers, just annoyances. In fact the suite is superb – both in execution and value for money. If you only need only a couple of the bigger applications then, separately, they’d cost more than the asking price of the whole suite. If you just want PowerDVD then buy it separately but if, say, you also want to edit video then go for CMS10. PowerDVD Copy and PowerBackup are certainly the two weak programs and I wouldn’t buy the suite for these.

CyberLink Media Suite 10 will work with Windows XP, Vista and 7. A 30 day trial is available from the CyberLink website.

Gallery

[review]A few minor niggles and a couple of weak programs but the suite, in total, offers great value for money.

With HD sound, 3D output and Blu-Ray playback in the Ultra version, its certainly the one to go for if you need those capabilities, otherwise you can save yourself a great deal with the Pro version.

Highly recommended.[/review]