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I don't know about PE, Bill Hunt is the expert on that because he uses both PE and PR, but from what I understand PE is like a point and shoot camera while PR is like a DSLR, making the learning curve much steeper but also giving you more control. This implies that PR requires more manual labor in setting things up and you will need to learn EN (Encore) for menu creation when designing menus for BRD.
Your hardware is suboptimal for AVCHD however. AMD CPU's are hampered by lacking support of SSE4.1+ instructions, which are heavily used by CS5 and the 210 video card does not support hardware assisted MPE.
thanks for your response! I'm looking for a "point-and-shoot" solution, but one that has the best performance on my hardware. Simply speaking, I'd like the quickest way to produce raw AVCHD footage into a reasonably polished BD, both quick in terms of editing effort and conversion processing.
To take the DSLR comparison, while common DSLRs allow all kinds of manual manipulation, they have all the automatic modes of the point-and-shoot cameras. If CS5 would be the same, my decision would be easy. But given that CS5 apparently leaves out the "point-and-shoot" modes, I would only go for it if it is dramatically faster than Elements.
Your CPU and graphics card mean that CS5/CS5.5 will be crippled from the start, and MOST LIKELY will not run any faster than PRElements
For what you describe... PRElements should do everything you need... but do go read in the PRElements forum