I'm notorious for buying myself presents that really aren't presents -- stuff like mops and storage containers.  I did it again, this time with something a tad more exciting.  I bought myself Corel's VideoStudio Ultimate X9 (Windows) for Christmas.  It's on sale until December 1, 2016 for $39.99.  The Pro version is on sale for $29.99.  (I have a previous version of VideoStudio, so I opted for the upgrade. I presume one can upgrade from any type of video editing software, including Movie Maker included with Windows.  In any case, the upgrade software is the same as the full version.)  If you miss this sale, just keep your eyes open and check the Corel website from time to time.  The price fluctuates to just about this level as a low point.  You'll just have to act when you see a discount.

If you're on the fence over which version to buy, get the cheaper one for $29.99.  On the other hand, if you can afford the extra $10, some video editing afficionados think it's worth the price.  The Corel site has a table for comparison.  As for me, I've been video editing on early versions of this product prior to it being acquired by Corel.  That in itself is a story.  It's hard to imagine that back then, the Ulead software cost $500 and had to run overnight just to render a five-minute clip.  So, in other words, I'm not flnching over the extra $10.

But, let's get to what you get for your money.

 1.  The software package itself, which contains a number of standalone modules in addition to the editing package itself.  One is called FastFlick X9 and out of the box, without reading any instructions, I was able to put together this video in less 8 minutes, including rendering (processing).

FastFlick is a quick and easy add-on solution to the otherwise longer learning curve that main module of VideoStudio software requires.  

Another standalone module of VideoStudio X9 is the screen capture module.  This does exactly what it sounds like, capturing what is on your screen and turning it into a silent video.  This is an excellent tool for creating technical how-to videos.

As for the main module, the user manual is pretty straightforward and there's also a complimentary 30-day tutorial subscription.  When I buy a new piece of software, I expect to put in at least six hours of intensive learning effort.  With six hours of effort on VideoStudio X9, a first-time user should be able to create a nice video: removing the parts they don't want, doing voiceover or music where needed, and enabling fancy transitions between clips.

For comparison, I've also used Adobe Premiere which was less intuitive.  I've also tried free options such as Chrome add-ons.  Ultimately, I deem Corel's product well worth the price.

As part of this year's CyberMonday deal, Corel is also throwing in Corel AfterShot 3 and WinZip 20.5.

AfterShot is a post-production RAW image editor that additionally works on lossy formats like .jpeg.  I found it both intuitive and the easiest way to do a quick crop, exposure correct and sharpen.  Unlike most consumer products, it also comes with batch processing; something usually reserved for professional level editing.  

WinZip is a file compression program.  These days, simple extraction and zipping is included with the WIndows OS.  WinZip is a fancier version of compression software that also allows users to encrypt and password-encode their files.  It's a good middle ground for anyone considering storing their sensitive files on the cloud.

I really don't buy software much anymore.  Most products are available without charge, and I'm more inclined to use open source options.  Still, after taking this newest version of VideoStudio for a run, I'm walking away happy. I'm our family's in-house tech person, so this will save me quite a bit of time when helping the kids with video presentations.  It's at least as useful as a mop and far more fun than storage containers.