Having seen the demonstration and written a load of notes, we went about writing what Media Show 4 was like. However not having used it or any of its predecessors and without some serious playtime with what looked to be an awesome product, it felt like we couldn't do our readers justice. With this in mind, we asked Cyberlink nicely and got the latest beta over to us so that we could really get to know it.
Between us, we’re familiar with all sorts of software that Media Show covers: Adobe Photoshop Elements, Ahead Nero Burning ROM, TMPEGeng Xpress and Apple’s iLife, to name but a few, however Media Show incorporates elements of all of these into a more basic and rounded offering.
Installation is incredibly simple and after this, on first launching the software we were presented with the option of scanning for media or adding them manually. The interface takes more of a branch than just a leaf out of Apple’s book. The process is also understandably CPU and hard drive intensive so it’ll slow your system for a while, but it’s only once, although in my case, adding 14GB of my photos took quite a while. Time to make a cup of tea and a sandwich, hmm tuna-sweetcorn I think.
Ah, that's done then; and the first thing that hits you is WOW! the new 3D engine is silky smooth to play with and generally not something we’re used to in a Windows environment. The menu bar is ribbon-esq; akin to Microsoft Office 2007 in that it uses tabs instead of drop down menus. You should be able to use the 3D function with any Vista capable PC, Cyberlink said two generations previous to the current one was the limit for integrated graphics performance.
Clicking on Photos, the interface that presents itself is very intuitive, although it only seemed to pick up my Jpeg picture files and not my RAWs – Adobe Lightroom still has the upper hand here. However, this is for more of a mainstream market – even I find Lightroom excessive in certain scenarios. Everything is drag and drop and selecting photos makes them dynamically arrange and resize themselves on the right hand side.
Right clicking on a photo offers some basic organisation including “find on disk” which is great if you’ve buried a photo somewhere on your PC – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this. The Upload to Flickr option is something else I’m happy to see as a Flickr user myself and given the popularity of the service it should appeal to many others too. However, what’s disappointing is that for those who use other facilities like Photobucket or Imageshack for example can’t add the option in – although it’s on the condition that these web services allow specific applications to access them like Flickr does.
The Mac influence is never far away – double clicking on a photo sends you to the slideshow screen: this is a function that you can’t change, and personally we’d like the option of double clicking to edit. It changes to a different mode by flipping the entire program window downwards – while iLife users will roll their eyes at yesterday’s news, this should certainly be novel to a lot of Windows users.
Yes, we understand there will be those who scoff at it because “it slows things down” – the same people who perpetually live in Windows Classic mode. Fine, fair enough, and to be honest I’d never understood the fascination with Mac-esq transitions either, however after some time in the software it genuinely makes it more interesting to use and easier to understand where you’re going. For a mainstream audience, this is essential.