VideoStudio Pro X2 review

Corel VideoStudio Pro X2 is a great video editor for those with underpowered PCs. And our review shows it's a pretty good choice for those with fast systems, too. See VideoStudio Pro X6 review.

Video is moving to high definition faster than a dog to a doughnut. So which do you buy first: a new HD camcorder, or a powerful new computer on which to edit its footage? If you choose the camcorder, Corel's VideoStudio Pro X2 video editing application may be able to help you stave off the PC purchase for a while.

Corel VideoStudio Pro X2's new trick? Its updated Smart Proxy editing feature lets you create a lower-resolution version of a project that you can use to make edits, apply effects, and create menus, and when you're satisfied with how it looks, you tell the application to pull in the high-resolution source files to create the finished movie. Of course, when you do that with an underpowered PC, you'll have to take a walk while the PC struggles to process the huge files, but it's still a nice compromise.

While the image quality isn't great in Smart Proxy mode, you can see well enough to apply effects; in addition, you can scrub back and forth in the timeline with no lag, and files play quickly and smoothly. In other words, you can use Corel VideoStudio Pro X2 just as easily as you could with standard-definition video (and perhaps even more easily, because the proxy-mode footage is at a lower resolution than most standard-resolution footage). Even in the middle of a project, you can easily enable and disable the Smart Proxy mode by clicking a button on the timeline.

Corel says that it increased the Smart Proxy feature's speed by 300 percent over the preceding VideoStudio 11.5. Furthermore, Corel VideoStudio Pro X2 is supposed to be optimised for quad-core CPUs and to take advantage of newer Intel CPUs that recognise SSE4 instructions, thereby providing a big performance boost on systems using them.

However, on our test system - a Dell XPS M1730 laptop with a 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme X9000 CPU with 2GB of RAM and a 400GB RAID array - high-resolution AVCHD clips played back very slowly, at perhaps just one or two frames per second, and they looked jaggy even with Smart Proxy disabled. On a more powerful system, a workstation with dual quad-core Intel Xeon processors, the performance improved markedly in both Smart Proxy and default modes. Corel says that it is working to ensure smooth high-definition playback in future updates to the application.

In spite of these playback issues, finished projects looked fine. Corel VideoStudio Pro X2 imports HDV, AVCHD, BDMV (files from Blu-ray camcorders, but such devices haven't yet arrived in this country), and it exports to BDAV, BDMV, and AVCHD formats. For comparison, Adobe's Premiere Elements 7 outputs only to BDAV and BDMV. (Corel says that 25 percent of its customers already import and output to AVCHD.)

It's also now easier to upload directly to YouTube; the feature was in VideoStudio 11.5, but Corel VideoStudio Pro X2 requires fewer steps. You can create iPod- and mobile phone-friendly files too, although you have to take care of getting them onto those devices yourself.

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