Adobe Premiere Elements 7 is the update to Adobe's Premiere Elements 4 consumer movie-making tool. Obviously.

Who needs a big hard drive when everyone's videos will eventually live online? Neat new web services, such as the ones offered by Adobe and linked to from its new Adobe Premiere Elements 7 video editor, may incline folks to load everything they have on to the web. But Adobe will have to offer more space for less money - and greatly improve the editor's integration with online services - to attract heavy video users.

See also: Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 review

You don't have to buy the £76 Adobe Premiere Elements desktop application to get a free Photoshop.com account, which includes 2GB of capacity and a personal URL such as yourname.photoshop.com. (The site isn't identified as "Premiere.com," because it also works with Adobe's Photoshop Elements image editor.)

The 2GB of storage can accommodate a large number of still photos, but it equals less than half an hour of mini-DV video, for example. You can buy upgrade to 20GB; and additional storage packs are available in sizes up to 500GB, though Adobe hasn't finalised their pricing. By comparison, a subscription fee of $50 (£28) per year at IDrive.com will get you 150GB of storage space.

Unlike IDrive.com, however, Photoshop.com offers more than just a place to park data. You can set up Adobe Premiere Elements 7 to back up files automatically; you can set preference parameters (for example, you can instruct the site not to back up any file larger than X MB); and once files are uploaded, you can access them from any computer that has an internet connection, of course. But you can view only pictures online - to watch videos, you must download the entire clip to your desktop and use the PC's video playback software. The interface at Photoshop.com is attractive and operates slickly; and it has conduits to Facebook, Flickr, Photobucket, and Picasa, so you can view images hosted on those services in the same Photoshop.com window (it's pretty slow when accessing outside images, though).

We found that specifying files for backup within Adobe Premiere Elements 7 itself required more steps than we'd like; you have to open a "Tagging" dialog box and drag a tag on to the files. It would have been more convenient if the program had allowed me to right-clicking on files in the organiser and then choose an 'upload' option.

And that's just one of the frustrations we had with Elements' interface. Many commands are arranged in a seemingly haphazard way. For example, you can use a system-tray icon to set backup options such as instructing the application to upload only while idle; but to see which files have been backed up or have a backup pending, you click on a tiny icon in the lower left corner of the application window - and this action prompts them to appear in the Organise window in the upper right corner of the application. To set additional backup options, you must pull up the Preferences dialog box from beneath the Edit menu.

Another drawback: Adobe Premiere Elements 7 has no link in the main application window to take you to your uploaded files (unless you count the splash screen when it starts up; but if you want to get back to that, you have to close your project). The program's text and icons were very small on the high-resolution, 17in laptop monitor we were using, and you can't adjust their size. Last year in our review of Elements 4 (the immediate predecessor of Adobe Premiere Elements 7, oddly enough), we complained about too-small text size; the problem seems worse in Elements 7, probably because the latest program requires you to do more hunting for important commands.

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See also: Adobe Creative Suite 4 (CS4) review

INDIVIDUAL CS4 APPS REVIEWED IN DETAIL:

Adobe InDesign CS4 review

Adobe Photoshop CS4 review

Adobe Illustrator CS4 review

Adobe After Effects CS4 review

Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 review

Adobe Flash Professional CS4 review

Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 review

Adobe Premiere Elements 7 is the update to Adobe's Premiere Elements 4 consumer movie-making tool. Obviously.

Your video stinks!

The Premiere Elements application does have several new features that don't depend on online interaction. One is the Smart Tag feature, which analyses your clips to identify ones that may be too dark, blurry, shaky, or out-of-focus - and that includes faces. We agreed with its evaluations (even when it called one of my videos "low quality"), and it works quickly. By default, Premiere Elements' and Photoshop Elements' organisers share the same catalogue file, and tags (other than Smart Tags)created in one application show up in both.

Another new feature, Instant Movie, lets you quickly create a movie by selecting clips, choosing a theme, and letting the application implement transitions and effects based on that theme. (Other video-editing applications, such as Pinnacle Studio and Corel VideoStudio, have such automated tools.) With my clips, Elements' tool worked about as well as its competitors - which is to say, not very well. We had trouble finding a theme suitable for my clips; the cuts from one shot to another seemed strange, and the transitions were often inappropriate.

See also: Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 review

You can edit your movie after applying an Instant Movie theme, but be warned: It broke our 5-minute movie into hundreds of tiny pieces of video, audio, transitions, and effects, making editing the movie extremely difficult. Adobe Premiere Elements 7 ships with 22 Instant Movie themes; you'll be able to download new themes too.

Adobe Premiere Elements 7 has a new feature called VideoMerge, which is supposed to simplify the process of taking video that was shot with a single-colour background and superimposing it on another video (for that supercool TV weatherperson look). When you drop a clip on top of another clip in the timeline, and Elements detects a solid background, it will ask whether you want to use VideoMerge; alternatively, you can initiate the process manually.

The feature worked quite well with footage supplied by Adobe, but far worse with our own blue-screen-background footage: Despite its supplying a tolerance slider, the background video showed through my foreground video. Elements 7 won't let you apply effects to specific areas of the video frame, so it's difficult (although not impossible) to mask areas where background video that shows through.

Visit Photo Advisor for the latest reviews of digital photography and video hardware and software, cameras and accessories. PLUS: get tips and tricks to improve your photos

Visit Business Advisor for the latest business IT news, reviews, tips and tricks - plus sign up for our unique and FREE business IT newsletter

See also: Adobe Creative Suite 4 (CS4) review

INDIVIDUAL CS4 APPS REVIEWED IN DETAIL:

Adobe InDesign CS4 review

Adobe Photoshop CS4 review

Adobe Illustrator CS4 review

Adobe After Effects CS4 review

Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 review

Adobe Flash Professional CS4 review

Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 review

Adobe Premiere Elements 7 is the update to Adobe's Premiere Elements 4 consumer movie-making tool. Obviously.

Inspirational editing

Wewere more impressed with Adobe Premiere Elements 7's Inspiration Browser, which provides web-based tutorial videos in a floating window. When we first looked at the beta version of Elements, most of the tutorials available had been produced by Adobe and other professional outfits such as Lynda.com, but Adobe says that it will add more content over time; the company also offers a mechanism for users to submit their own tutorials (which must be approved by Adobe).

See also: Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 review

Adobe Premiere Elements 7 now recognises AVCHD content from high-definition camcorders, though it will burn Blu-ray Discs only in H.264 or MPEG-2 format (not in AVCHD) and with a maximum resolution of 1920 by 1080 interlaced (not progressive). Nevertheless, those are pretty good options for a consumer video-editing application.

You can still upload videos to YouTube, of course, and Adobe Premiere Elements 7 has a new higher-quality setting for uploading content to that site. But you can't, for example, see which videos you've uploaded to Photoshop.com from within Elements, so it's strictly a one-way link. And despite Adobe's claim last year that it would add other video-sharing services, it remains limited to YouTube.

Visit Photo Advisor for the latest reviews of digital photography and video hardware and software, cameras and accessories. PLUS: get tips and tricks to improve your photos

Visit Business Advisor for the latest business IT news, reviews, tips and tricks - plus sign up for our unique and FREE business IT newsletter

See also: Adobe Creative Suite 4 (CS4) review

INDIVIDUAL CS4 APPS REVIEWED IN DETAIL:

Adobe InDesign CS4 review

Adobe Photoshop CS4 review

Adobe Illustrator CS4 review

Adobe After Effects CS4 review

Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 review

Adobe Flash Professional CS4 review

Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 review

PCWorld.com

Adobe Premiere Elements 7: Specs

  • 1.8GHz processor with SSE2 support
  • 3GHz processor required for HDV or Blu-ray
  • dual-core processor required for AVCHD
  • Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2, Windows Media Center, or Windows Vista
  • For Windows XP: 512MB of RAM (2GB required for HDV, AVCHD, or Blu-ray)
  • For Windows Vista: 1GB of RAM (2GB required for HDV, AVCHD, or Blu-ray)
  • 4.5GB of available hard-disk space
  • colour monitor with 16-bit colour video card
  • 1,024x768 monitor resolution at 96dpi or less
  • Microsoft DirectX 9 or 10 compatible sound and display driver
  • DVD-ROM drive (compatible DVD burner required to burn DVDs
  • compatible Blu-ray burner required to burn Blu-ray discs)
  • DV/i.LINK/FireWire/IEEE 1394 interface to connect a Digital 8 DV or HDV camcorder, or a USB2 interface to connect a DV-via-USB compatible DV camcorder (other video devices supported via the Media Downloader)
  • QuickTime 7 software
  • 1.8GHz processor with SSE2 support
  • 3GHz processor required for HDV or Blu-ray
  • dual-core processor required for AVCHD
  • Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2, Windows Media Center, or Windows Vista
  • For Windows XP: 512MB of RAM (2GB required for HDV, AVCHD, or Blu-ray)
  • For Windows Vista: 1GB of RAM (2GB required for HDV, AVCHD, or Blu-ray)
  • 4.5GB of available hard-disk space
  • colour monitor with 16-bit colour video card
  • 1,024x768 monitor resolution at 96dpi or less
  • Microsoft DirectX 9 or 10 compatible sound and display driver
  • DVD-ROM drive (compatible DVD burner required to burn DVDs
  • compatible Blu-ray burner required to burn Blu-ray discs)
  • DV/i.LINK/FireWire/IEEE 1394 interface to connect a Digital 8 DV or HDV camcorder, or a USB2 interface to connect a DV-via-USB compatible DV camcorder (other video devices supported via the Media Downloader)
  • QuickTime 7 software

OUR VERDICT

The upgrades to Adobe Premiere Elements 7 didn't strike us as very compelling. We like the addition of downloadable walkthroughs and templates, the Smart Tags, and the ability to sync files without thinking about it. But the interface needs some housecleaning, Elements' integration with Photoshop.com is pretty thin, and its integration with third-party services even thinner. More Webbiness is fine, but what we really want is more YouTubiness.

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