If you want to edit AVCHD, you will need a newer version than Premiere Elements 4. I'm not sure how well it would run on your Vista system, however.
Bottom Line: If you are going to remain with Windows Vista 32 bit, then I would keep with the SD workflows using your Photoshop Elements 6 and Premiere Elements 4.
When you go from SD to HD source (especially high resource demanding formats such as AVCHD), your computer resources are going to be compromised when it comes to the larger projects. You need to think in terms of whether or not Premiere Elements is going to be working as a 32 bit application or 64 bit application which brings with it the perk of getting a larger project taken to successful completion with a greater frequency than otherwise.
Here are some guidelines...Premiere Elements 10, 11, and 12 are 64 bit applications running specifically on Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 64 bit. On Windows Vista 32 bit, 10, 11, and 12, if successful install, would be 32 bit applications with all the limitation of 32 bit. If you are thinking in terms of editing 50p video, then look to versions 11 or 12 (current version) with a 50p project preset and take your computer to Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 64 bit. Whatever your decision, use the free 30 day tryout from Adobe before purchase from Adobe or from an authorized reseller of the product.
As an aside, AVCHD was not supported by Premiere Elements until version 7. Those who tried to edited AVCHD in versions other than 64 bit application and computer often had to resort to conversion of AVCHD into a less demanding format before importing it into Premiere Elements.
If you need further details or need clarification, please do not hesitate to ask.
Thank you for your reply, I am quite happy with SD and I think the video camera I am looking at does that. Canon XA20. To view home video of Grandchildren/ family videos, I think SD is ok. When, and if the day comes when I need to upgrade to a new computer, then I will find one big enough/strong enough to cope with HD. Does that sound right. Also if HD format is used, then it would be compressed a lot to put it onto DVD's, as Mpeg2 is that correct? Thanks again for your help.
Thanks for the reply.
If your Timeline content is SD or HD and it is destined for burn to DVD-VIDEO on DVD disc, the resolution will be taken to the resolution of the specification for the DVD-VIDEO format, that is
for DVD-VIDEO Standard 4:3 - 720 x 480 (NTSC) or 720 x 576 (PAL).
for DVD-VIDEO Widescreen 16:9 - here the frame size is the same as for DVD-VIDEO Standard but the video is stretched to about 856 x 480 (NTSC) or about 1056 x 576 (PAL) for display after encoding.
You can take some advantage from your Timeline burned to AVCHD format on DVD disc (then display can be 1920 x 1080), but capacity of the DVD disc and finding a player for the AVCHD on DVD can be important considerations. The better news for AVCHD on DVD is that you do not need a Blu-ray burner to produce it. But then again you cannot use the ordinary DVD player for play back of the AVCHD DVD.
DVD-VIDEO on DVD disc enhancement technology of certain TV/TV players may help.
Another consideration is whether or not these DVDs will be viewed on a TV screen larger than 32 to 42 inches.
If possible, go tryout routes before purchases.
Please do not hesitate to ask questions. We are glad for the opportunity to be of assistance.
Thank you again for your reply & help
watching video that is stretched into 16:9 is not a good idea, I will stick to SD 720 X 576 (Pal)
Just a note
The SD PAL DV Widescreen (720 x 576 uses a 16:9 flag to stretch the video for display after encoding. Also, there is the HD format that is described 1440 x 1080 HD anamorphic 16:9 where again the 16:9 flag stretches the 1440 x 1080 to 1920 x 1080 for display after encoding.
In each case, you depend on the player to recognize the 16:9 flag to get the proper display. Some players can have problems in this regard.
If that should be the case, then, when possible, go with a video format that does not depend on the 16:9 for display after encoding.
All can be worked with but being aware of the possibilities helps plan your video editing strategy, import/export.