While better known for its DVD playback software, CyberLink also produces a wide range of audio and video editing software. PowerDirector 7 Ultra is its premium video editing application.

This latest version clearly surpasses the previous edition. For instance, you can now have six Picture-in-Picture tracks and add up to seven layered effects, which is considerably more advanced than before.

Since it was introduced last year, a major free update has been released that offers support for Nvidia CUDA technology. If your laptop has the latest CUDA-supported chip, you'll find that it delivers faster performance for encoding high-definition (HD) video into H.264 files and for rendering effects.

The interface hasn't undergone a drastic redesign, but has now adopted a darker look with a new grey background. The idea is that it places less emphasis on the actual screen, making the video look sharper to the eye. For the most part, it is effective and certainly looks great.

The interface provides the same standard access as all the software here and is built around four navigation tabs – Capture, Edit, Produce and Create Disc.

When it comes to usability, this is one of the less resource-heavy packages here, but you'll still need a dual-core laptop to run even basic edits with speed. What's more, if you want to edit HD video, we recommend using as fast a processor as possible.

While the tutorials are basic, they help you get a feel for how to get more from the suite. Extra usability is provided by the built-in download tools, which let you import content from Flickr and even Freesound, which is a royalty-free audio library.

For lower budgets, PowerDirector Deluxe can be bought for £40 (inc. VAT) and caters for those who don't need AVCHD or Blu-ray burning support built-in as standard.

CyberLink PowerDirector 7 has come a long way and, while it's still not the easiest or most feature-rich editing suite to use, it still offers great value for money.

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