Installing our downloaded version of the $39.95 PowerProducer 2.0 took about a minute and required about 45MB of disk space. The interface is sleek, modern-looking, and easy to learn, but it's also maddeningly quirky and eventually restrictive. Each step of the authoring process--pick a task, capture/import media, preview/edit, and burn--entails a separate page. Being forced to flip page by page to the one you want is annoying, especially when you're importing a previously saved project.
PowerProducer 2.0 offers a wide variety of import and capture options, but you can't edit or even name your imports until you reach the preview page.
Our biggest complaint is the lack of in-place editing, which means you can't design as you go. For instance, you can't choose the background or menu you want by right-clicking the background; instead, you must open a Preferences dialog. And you can't rename a photo slide show or a video caption as you import it; you must wait until you get to the Preview menu. This is especially nonsensical because you can right-click from the capture/import page and call up a Properties dialog that would easily let you change a name or a title. In the end, we never quite escaped the feeling that the interface was rushed out the door without a lot of thought or testing.
PowerProducer 2.0's low-end status shows in the lack of control you'll get over the look and feel of your finished disc. You can't move titles or menu buttons from their default position, and there are no motion menus (buttons that play a short preview of the video they represent) or motion-video backgrounds. The program includes only a few background images (you can import your own), and you cannot customize the limited supply of themes and button styles.
PowerProducer 2.0's handy disc utilities alone are almost worth the price of admission.
Aesthetic shortcomings aside, PowerProducer 2.0 packs a lot of power. It produces both movies and slide shows to CD or DVD; imports a wide variety of media files; and captures video and digital images directly from digital video recorders, digital cameras, or flash memory card readers. The program allows rudimentary editing of video and includes a number of effects such as embossing and sharpening, plus a decent variety of scene transitions (swipes, fades, and so on).
PowerProducer 2.0 records from a DV camera or other video source directly to disc and supports the VR (video recording) format, which allows you to make changes to already-recorded discs. There are also several handy utility functions that nearly justify the price of the program. You can copy noncommercial discs, create an image file from a disc or a project, burn a disc from a previously saved image file, burn a disc from a DVD folder (the contents of a DVD ripped or copied to a hard drive folder), and erase and even defragment rewritable discs.
The PowerProducer 2.0 help file was quite useful and resolved a number of questions raised by the unintuitive interface, as did the paper documentation that comes with the boxed version. CyberLink doesn't offer any telephone support, but online help includes a number of helpful FAQs, answers to common questions, and e-mail to tech support. Our single e-mail enquiry was answered in a little more than five days--not especially timely, but the answer was correct.
CyberLink's online support is easy to find and comprehensive. Our e-mail message to tech support was answered correctly but not promptly.