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Anyone can shoot video. But editing? That's a skill -- some would say an art. And like all skills/arts, it requires the right tools.
With them, you can merge a messy bunch of video clips into a cohesive and enthralling movie, complete with fancy titles, cool transitions and a soundtrack.
CyberLink PowerDirector is widely regarded as one of the best Windows video editors around, offering oodles of options and effects wrapped in an approachable interface.
The latest version has a list price of $129.99, though you can routinely find it selling in the $70 range. Right now, however, and for a limited time, you can get CyberLink PowerDirector 16 Ultimate for $41.99. That's after applying coupon code CNET30 at checkout. (Pro tip: Ebates promises an additional 7.5-percent rebate.)
What's more, CyberLink is bundling a mess of extras including a couple of effects packs, an audio-editing utility and a webinar on creating effective presentations. All told, this kit would run you about $360 if purchased separately.
If you've tinkered with video editors such as Windows Movie Maker or an app on your phone, you've barely scratched the surface of what's possible with real video-editing software. Those rudimentary tools focus primarily on cutting and assembling your clips -- fine for cobbling together something simple, but way too limited for budding Christopher Nolans.
PowerDirector 16 offers a wealth of editing tools -- not just for video, but for audio as well. It lets you create titles, apply tons of special effects, create DVD and Blu-ray discs, stabilize shaky video and lots more. It supports 3D, 4K and VR media and, coolest of all, it can automatically sync footage from multiple cameras.
CNET hasn't reviewed this version of the program, so I'll direct you to PC Mag's review. Spoiler alert: It earned an Editors' Choice nod: "PowerDirector is one of the fastest and most capable consumer-level video editing apps for Windows around, and the first to support 360-degree VR footage."
I'll second that. Although there's a bit of a learning curve with the interface (especially for anyone new to video editing), PowerDirector is my preferred tool. (It used to be Pinnacle Studio, but some ridiculous interface changes caused me to abandon it a few years back.) Once you learn the ropes, you'll be able to achieve some amazing results.
Don't need quite so many features and frills? Check out PowerDirector 15 LE, currently available free for Cheapskate readers. You also get PhotoDirector 8 LE, AudioDirector 7 LE and ColorDirector 5 LE -- the limited-edition versions of various other CyberLink utilities.
Bonus deal: I have a soft spot for the original Jawbone Jambox, a compact portable Bluetooth speaker that made up for its boxy looks with great sound and a long-lasting battery. I still use one, in fact.
But, ugh, the price: It retailed for $200 when it debuted some eight years ago. These days you can buy something of similar size and capability for literally one-tenth as much.
Or, for a limited time and while supplies last, the Jambox itself: TechRabbit has the certified-refurbished Jawbone Jambox for $19.99 shipped. And because it's red and kind of adorable, it could make for a fine Valentine's Day gift! Keep in mind, though, that it likely comes in brown-box packaging, which might tag you as a cheapskate -- and not in a good way.
As noted, I like this speaker a lot. But be aware that Jawbone no longer directly supports it, meaning if you want to, say, update the firmware (which isn't necessarily necessary), you'll have to look to DIY articles like this one.
Although Jawbone's original pricing for this was on the way-high side, you're still getting a $200 speaker for $20. Definitely worth considering, if you ask me.
Bonus deal No. 2: Looking to round out your movie library? For a limited time, Best Buy is offering two Blu-ray movies for $9.99. Add two to your cart to see that pricing.
There are 16 choices, some of them pretty awesome. Anyone for the original "Die Hard"? Or "Alien"? You can't go wrong with classics like "The French Connection" or "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," either. But, oooh, "Skyfall"... you gotta get that one, right?