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Avid Pinnacle Studio Plus 10 review: Avid Pinnacle Studio Plus 10

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MSRP: $99.99

The Good Simple interface for such as a complex program; useful and fun assortment of transitions and effects; can create pan-and-zoom slide shows; imports HDV.

The Bad Relatively slow and unstable; limited to three tracks of video and four of audio; DivX and MPEG-4 support costs extra.

The Bottom Line Avid Pinnacle Studio Plus 10 deftly straddles the line between simple and complex video editors, though not without some serious performance issues.

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7.1 Overall
  • Setup 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 5
  • Support 9

Avid Pinnacle Studio Plus 10 does its best to erase the distinctions between consumer and prosumer video-editing tools by delivering flexible tools for both. But it spreads itself too thin, making it the also-ran for either market: Ulead Video Studio 9 is a smarter option for video newbies who want to dive right in, while Adobe's impressive Premiere Elements 2 offers more precise control and professional-level features for those who will take the time to learn them. However, Studio Plus makes a niche for itself by offering video editing that's simple enough for beginners but with plenty of room to grow. Unfortunately, poor performance injects some caution into our recommendation. The company is aware of the issues and plans to release a patch in the first quarter of 2006; we'll reevaluate our rating when it does.

The program comes in a three-DVD set (counting the disc of bonus content), and loading all three took more than an hour; at times, it moved so slowly that we thought the installer had frozen. You can use that time to glance through the well-written, 292-page manual. While our 2GHz test system met Studio Plus's requirements, the program was often slow and jerky in our testing. The recommended requirement is a 2.4GHz system, and we say the more power the better. The Liquid engine ported from Pinnacle's higher-end products seems to demand nothing less for smooth performance. During our testing, we experienced a few freezes that required restarts. At least the program's new Background Save feature ensured that we didn't lose work when that happened.

The company's Web site offers thousands of support documents and discussion forums, so if you encounter problems such as these, you can search for the answers. You can submit a question by e-mail after viewing one support document, and the company will respond within a day or two. Plus, registered users are allowed one free tech support phone call (weekdays, 8 8 p.m. ET), and the number is provided on that same support insert so that you don't have to go hunting for it. After the initial call, additional queries cost $25 each. Sure, we'd like 30 days of free calls, but this is beyond what most sub-$100 software products offer.

To use Avid Pinnacle Studio Plus, first start the Launcher. It will ask if you want the full Studio Plus, the Instant DVD Recorder (for copying your footage directly to a DVD), or the tutorial. The tutorial doesn't go into great detail, but it is a helpful feature overview for those who are new to the program. Click the screenshot for a tour of the program.

Once it's cooked a little more, Avid Pinnacle Studio Plus 10 will make a nice compromise between Ulead's all-automation approach and Adobe's do-it-yourself power. But it's still a little too raw to recommend without reservations.

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