At the upper end of the market for home-based video editors, the sixth iteration of Movie Studio adds support for HDV (high-definition video) footage. This is in keeping with rivals Pinnacle Studio Plus, Serif MoviePlus and Adobe Premiere Elements. But Sony's editor wins further plaudits for its power, features and exceptional ease of use.

There's nothing to fear in Movie Studio's by-now standard tri-pane interface. Everything is clearly laid out and the menus are intuitive. Drag-and-drop editing is a cinch.

Even those who've never used a video-editing program will be able to get cracking quickly, as there are several excellent interactive tutorials to follow.

You can spread the interface over two monitors, a useful option for those who wish to take advantage of full-screen previews. We found the clear interface easy to use on a 17in widescreen laptop.

Unlike rival programs that offer unlimited tracks, you are limited to four video and four audio tracks, but this will pose a problem only for very complex projects. You get a plethora of transitions. They are presented in such a way as to make them easy to use, even for the uninitiated.

DVD authoring is where this program comes into its own. Sony bundles DVD Architect Studio, which combines functionality with ease of use and is almost worth a review of its own. It's more powerful and complex than some of its rivals, but basic tasks are still simple to achieve.

On the down side, despite offering support for Flash, you can't import or export QuickTime files. Video iPod fans need not apply, but this product is aimed primarily at high-end users.

Sony Vegas Movie Studio + DVD 6.0 Platinum Edition: Specs

  • 800MHz processor (2.8GHz recommended for HDV)
  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 256MB RAM (512MB recommended for HDV)
  • 200MB hard disk space
  • 800MHz processor (2.8GHz recommended for HDV)
  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 256MB RAM (512MB recommended for HDV)
  • 200MB hard disk space

OUR VERDICT

Sony is a quality brand, giving excellent build quality and ease of use, but you generally have to pay more for it. This program is powerful, feature-rich and user-friendly. And if you purchase if from Amazon, it costs less than its rivals.

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