PowerDirector 9 comes billed as the "first native 64-bit consumer video editor," which means it can use more than 4GB of RAM in systems that have a 64-bit version of Windows.
Like VideoStudio and Premiere Elements, CyberLink PowerDirector 9 has a tabbed interface designed to give the nontechnical user a leg up. In this case, the tabs include Capture, Edit, Produce and Create Disc.
The timeline at the bottom can be switched between storyboard and conventional timeline modes, and a number of sub-elements of the interface have organizational tabs (in much the same manner as Vegas' Project Explorer). Click on a clip in the timeline, and a set of tabs appears above the timeline that brings up different properties or editing functions for that clip: Edit Audio, Power Tools, Fix/Enhance, Trim, Keyframe and so on.
The way these tools are presented isn't terribly consistent, though. Modify (which lets you apply things like chroma-keying or masks) opens a popup window, but Power Tools (advanced editing functions like cropping/zooming) appears in a window that replaces the project organiser.
PowerDirector, like Elements, provides many automatic and assisted editing options, although the mileage you'll get out of them also varies. Magic Movie Wizard most closely resembles Premiere Element's InstantMovie function: Pick a series of clips, select some background music, choose some basic parameters (e.g., ratio of videos to photos, if you have a mix of the two), and the resulting montage will automatically replace any existing footage in the timeline.
The results can be further edited and fine-tuned. As with InstantMovie, you're better off using this to assemble footage that doesn't depend on dialogue, since the edits can be rather arbitrary.
The Magic Style function lets you apply a style template to clips already in the timeline. Magic Cut lets you automatically trim footage based on specific kinds of action you want to include or exclude, e.g., "scenes with people speaking" or "scenes with moving objects." Its detection heuristics are surprisingly accurate and worked well on a variety of clips I tried. Magic Fix automatically attempts to correct bad lighting, shaky camera movements and video noise, and best of all lets you preview the changes in a split-screen view.
The Produce tab renders video for output, providing a bunch of common sense defaults but also allowing advanced users to create their own output profiles. You can select a file type, a target device or a video hosting site. Only YouTube and Facebook are supported in that last category, but uploads for both can be HD (up to 1920 x 1080). Create Disc sports all sorts of authoring options, for both Blu-ray and standard DVD, and chapter points for DVDs can be inserted directly into the timeline during the editing stage.
If you want to save a bit of cash, PowerDirector 9 also comes in a simpler Deluxe edition that doesn't offer 64-bit capabilities and doesn't burn to the BDXL or AVCHD formats.
Despite PowerDirector 9's power features vis-à-vis 64-bit processors, the program's day-to-day features will be more important to most people. The best of those features, Magic Fix and the detailed export options, are worth checking out.