CyberLink Media Suite 10 is a suite of media-related Windows tools which fall into four main categories: video, audio, photo, and disc utilities. The $114.95 Ultra edition is packed with features that many PC users might want, while the $99.95 Pro edition provides a fair number less.
CyberLink is a familiar name to many notebook PC owners. If your Windows laptop came with a media player other than (or in addition to) Windows Media Player, chances are that it's probably a CyberLink product. Beyond all that, CyberLink sells plenty of standalone applications and utilities.
However, even if you already own some of CyberLink's standalone products, you might want to give Media Suite 10 a look. As the name implies, CyberLink has bundled its most popular applications into a single suite with a common look and interface. Just for starters, tools you'll find in CyberLink 10 include PowerDVD, PowerDirector, MediaShow, and Power2Go, for disc burning.
On its Web site, CyberLink presents the exact feature makeup of the Pro and Ultra editions Personally, I really don't see any great advantage in saving $15 if you're not going to get features you might some day use.
CyberLink's bundle is tied together with a common launchpad, the home screen. This screen has six tabs on the bottom labeled "Movie," "Video," "Photo," "Music," "Data & Backup," and "Utilities." Clicking on one of these tabs opens a submenu that provides you with task choices.
The look and feel throughout the Suite is identical, so it's not evident that you are actually moving from program to program. This is a very workable approach, and it makes performing frequently used tasks a bit easier.
I tested the downloadable version, although Media Suite 10 is available on a DVD should you want physical media. Downloading and installing takes a fair amount of time, but both depend on Internet bandwidth and the speed and power of your notebook.
In most cases, the process should take between 10 and 20 minutes. It is completely painless. You can also do a custom install which lets you pick and choose which components that you want, as opposed to the express install that installs everything.
Once I'd done an express installation, Media Suite 10 took up about 2.8GB of space on my hard drive, a factor to consider if you want to install Media Suite on an older laptop with a small hard drive that's close to full.
As I suggested earlier, the four broad categories of features and functions in Media Suite -- video, audio, photo and disc utilities -- are accessible through the six tabs. For example, clicking on the Movie tab brings up another screen with choices which include playing a movie disc, playing a movie file, or viewing online movie information. Media Suite also offers the ability to play Blu-Ray discs, Keep in mind, though, that playing a Blu-Ray disc requires a Blu-Ray drive.
The Video and Music tabs provide you with choices in a smilar way. They also include editing and disc creation capabilities.
In testing Media Suite on a Lenovo Y580 laptop, which is a Core i7 machine loaded with 8GB of RAM, I found performance in all areas to be more than acceptable, even for applications such as video transcoding and format conversions. Obviously, these particular applications would run much slower on a less powerful system, but so would similar applications from another vendor.
Converting a movie into a format useable on a mobile device such as an iPhone or tablet took the better part of 15 minutes. Much of this time was spent on importing the movie from disc, and the rest in actually performing the file type conversion. The movie, which was about two hours long, was split into five separate files, each of which needed to be played separately. Videos are played using MediaShow 6, which is automatically launched from the Video tab.
MediaEspresso, a utility which performs this and other tasks, doesn't remove the copy protection from the movie, and it will not work on a copy-protected video. For testing purposes, I obviously needed a non-copy protected movie.
However, for the most part, MediaEspresso will be used to convert your home videos into a format that can be shown on a device you carry around, or in a file format you can use for smooth uploading. MediaEspresso makes it easy to choose, even listing specific devices and recommending the suggested settings for the device. Alternatively, you can ignore these suggestions if you'd like and choose different settings, including output file format and video resolution.
Media Suite 10 is optimized for NVidia's CUDA technology, which provides a considerable performance boost in doing many of the available MediaSuite tasks -- but only, of course, on PCs outfitted with the graphics capabilities to use CUDA.
You can also turn 2D video and photos into 3D with the push of an onscreen button. Viewing this 3D effect requires a pair of the red/blue glasses. For most of us, though, watching the neighbor's dog Sparky running around after a ball in 3D is not going to provide enough incentive to purchase Media Suite.
Also, one thing about MediaSuite 10 I did find annoying is that you're constantly getting prompted to upgrade. The bottom of most screens presents the message, "Get NEW PhotoDirector 3 Now." The up arrow at the top right of the screen -- where the minimize, help, and close icons reside -- doesn't bring you back to the preview screen, which I thought would be a logical action. Instead, it brings you to a screen which lists the installed versions of the bundled applications, their version numbers, and more up arrows to upgrade to a newer version.
Media Suite 10 offers tons of features and functions, most of which can be useful to the average user. Yet in deciding whether Media Suite 10 is a good purchase for you, you need to consider how many of Media Suite's functions are performed by applications you already own.
If the answer to these questions is yes, you'll need to decide whether Media Suite 10 adds enough additional capabilities over what you already have to make it worthwhile addition to your existing mix.
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