I am a user of Pinnacle Studio 12.1. My PC is a 2.4 gHz core 2 duo with an Nvidia GF 8400M GT videocard, 4 gb of RAM, and lots of hard drive. I shoot 1440x1080i AVCHD and burn Blu-rays. My prior editing software experiences encompass the Sony 2003 MovieShaker, Nero 7, and the Windows Movie Maker. I have had success with all the products. I purchased PS 12.1 to edit AVCHD and burn Blu-rays with menus. I also burn some standard DVDs from the same project sources.
This thread contains lots of rants about Pinnacle, but few of the complainers clarify whether they found another product that worked better for the same purpose. If people have very simple standard definition video objectives, I'd suggest they use Windows Movie Maker and its companion DVD creator. If they want to edit HD video, they should first make sure they meet the RECOMMENDED PC specifications, not just the minimum.
Pinnacle has a simple editing interface, but so many effects features and plug-ins that one should not buy it unless prepared to learn them carefully. The Studio forum, supported mainly by users, is a very useful tool to find technical solutions or workarounds, but not a place to air beefs about account billings, download problems, or backorders. Studio 12.1 has some "bugs," but not of the sort that a novice would notice. The usual out-of-the-box obstacle is where someone tries to edit a project with a new HD videocam and has insufficient PC power, or has a hardware configuration that presents conflicts. Anyone contemplating purchase of an AVCHD videocam, especially if it shoots 1920x1080, would best consider getting a fast quad core PC and up-to-snuff graphics card.
People who expect to edit AVCHD and create loss-less results quick and fast must keep their expecations simple and use the simple software bundled with their videocams, which usually can create simple playback discs without recoding. Otherwise, the task demands some patience to learn a software product and bear with the extended rendering and processing times required for a dense, HD format.
Studio does not yet import DD 5.1 sound and preserve the channels. Its digital stabilizer does not work, so one must purchase a Mercalli plug-in to smooth out shaky video. Some Studio plug-ins are brilliant, but take more time to master than the usual household DW Griffith has available. Studio 12.1 does NOT support 1280x720 6op AVCHD "lite" and neither does the current PowerDirector. Sony Vegas can, but costs more, and it's not clear whether the Sony disc burning products can create a BD in 60p.
By August, 2009, Pinnacle's owner, Avid, is likely to release a new product that replaces Studio and Liquid. Version 1.0 may be buggy. Cautious buyers or bargain hunters will be better off buying Studio 12.1 at a discount. Avid may offer lots of plug-ins for free. People who have already mastered Nero or Total Media Extreme, and want more editing tools, will have little to lose by taking advantage. Sony Vegas or Premier Elements users may not give a hoot, except that Studio does something neither of the others can: burn HD video to ordinary DVD media. Of course, the playback must still be on a BD player or suitable PC. PowerDirector users will probably see few differences between their product and Studio, except that Studio's plug-ins and advanced features are a bit more extensive.
Avid bought too many products, including Pinnacle, at high prices between 2004 and 2006. It changed management in 2007 and wrote-off the good will in some of the inflated purchased in late 2008. Revenues of its professional and commercial broadcasting lines have been stagnant or falling. Now it is grappling to reposition itself and make some money. Its NexGen successor to Studio and Liquid will be a magnificent gamble. If it scores, fine. If not, and the firm disolves, people who scoop up Studio 12.1 Ultimate, with plug-ins, at steep discount will still get a good thing. Very likely, some firm will purchase the product rights and keep the Studio forum alive long enough to allow any new buyer to get FREE help.
Review by Persistence
Jun 5, 2009 Version: 12,1
OS: Vista Ease of use: 4/10
Value for money: 6/10