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Ulead CD &
is currently at the front of the pack when it comes to consumer-level
DVD authoring tools. But are the days of pocket-money apps such as DVD
PictureShow now over?
Ulead has established
itself as a strong player in the consumer-level DVD authoring market.
At the time of writing, Ulead is the only company to offer strong authoring
options for beginners and enthusiasts under the Windows operating system.
While far from being the best program out there, its budget authoring
package DVD MovieFactory provides a solid and intuitive wizard-based
environment for making quick-and-dirty video discs, and at more advanced
levels, DVD Workshop offers massive bangs for bucks including subtitles,
alternative audio tracks and scripting.
Another area where Ulead really seems to shine is in its development
of pocket-money software - inexpensive programs that serve a single,
specific purpose. Two such programs are DVD PictureShow and Photo Explorer,
bundled here as CD & DVD PictureShow 3 Deluxe. The package costs
a mere £25, and is designed to help digital photographers publish
their images in DVD or VCD format. We were hugely impressed with the
idea when PictureShow was first launched in 2002, but the entry-level
DVD authoring market has become so mature and competitive, we're left
wondering whether such a one-trick pony is still relevant.
CD & DVD PictureShow 3 Deluxe comes as a two-disc set. The first
installs the main application and Ulead's Photo Explorer software, as
well as DirectX, Windows Media Format 9 and QuickTime if needed. The
second disc is called a Bonus CD, but unlike many bonus discs, contains
some genuinely useful stuff, such as a collection of stock photos called
Hemera Photo Objects, and an image emailing wizard by Novatix called
SendPhotos. The Bonus CD's installation screen also offers a Digital
Photography Reference Guide. It's in PDF format for viewing in Adobe
Acrobat Reader, but don't let that put you off. The guide is a worthwhile
piece of work, taking a qualitative approach to digital photography,
addressing framing, exposure and printing from a largely aesthetic viewpoint.
It's engaging and targeted squarely at the home user and newcomer.
Ulead's CD & DVD PictureShow 3 Deluxe is a well-packed software
bundle and, at a mere £25, represents great value for money. We
came into this review feeling that DVD slideshow programs had had their
day, but we're delighted to be proved wrong. PictureShow has some exciting
features and, in many ways, is a much more interesting program than
Ulead's authoring program DVD MovieFactory. If only it supported chapter-markers,
we think it would be a better thing altogether. Ulead has greatly surpassed
our expectations with this pocket-money product, and we hope to see
features such as pan-and-zoom filters worked into the company's more
upmarket video applications soon.
Reviewed in this issue:
Canopus Imaginate 2
Adobe Audition 1.5
Ulead CD & DVD PictureShow
In January's news:
Studio 9 Plus
Canopus Let's Edit 2
Wacom Intuos MkIII
Sony Studio lites
Serious Magic Visual Communicator
Entry level Apple PowerMac
Apple Logic Express and Pro 7
Hitachi EasyBak HDDs
NTI Dragon Burn 4
Video Forum 2005
CyberLink PowerProducer 3
Mac OSX 10.3.6 ready to download
Free training DVD