Some years ago, I purchased a Pinnacle DC10 Plus MJPEG PCI capture card, which included Pinnacle Studio video editor software. Pinnacle has a reputation for being easy to use, inexpensive, feature-rich, and intuitive.
Oh, there's one more thing making Pinnacle Studio noteworthy--make that notorious.
It's one of the most unstable pieces of software I've ever used.
I've purchased upgrades from Pinnacle Studio DC10+, Studio 7, and even made the leap to Studio 10.8 this year. Each revision has added new features and improved performance, and with marginal improvements in stability. But alas, my patience has run out, and it's time to bid a fond farewell.
The new contender? Sony Vegas Studio Platinum, weighing in at a svelt less-than-$120.
Sony provides a 30-day free trial of their Vegas Studio product. Though nowhere near as powerful as Vegas Studio Professional or Avid Studio Liquid edition, Vegas Studio 8 provides an impressive set of features for a very reasonable price.
But there's one other feature that makes Vegas Studio a huge win over Pinnacle Studio. I've been using Vegas Studio for a mere 2 days, and it has crashed on me exactly never.
Pinnacle still has a definite edge in ease-of-use; just sit down and you can probably figure it out pretty quickly. With Vegas Studio, I felt as if I were using a large set of Swiss Army knives, with all the blades sticking out at once; loads of features and cool tools are available, but I wasn't entire comfortable knowing where to start.
Sony Vegas has built-in "Show Me How" tutorials, accessed from a button on the main screen. You can be in the middle of a project, hit Show Me How, and Vegas will highlight sections of the screen showing exactly what steps you need to take. I was quite impressed. If it were not for these tutorials, it's likely I'd not have the time or patience to learn Vegas Studio.
Another major plus for me, due to some side work I'm doing, is the ability for Sony Vegas to work in and render output in arbitrary resolutions without forcing everything through a DV/HDV/1080i processing chain. I edited some video game footage in 800x600 resolution and was able to put out flawless 800x600 Windows Media video with absolutely no loss in quality. Pinnacle Studio will completely mangle such footage and reduce the quality so much it's nearly embarrassing.
So far, so good. I'll be kicking the tires on Sony Vegas Studio for the rest of the month. If it continues to perform up to the level I'm expecting, I will bid Pinnacle's eternal upgrade cycle farewell and make Vegas my new video editing tool of choice. I'll post more later.