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It's considered a consumer product however the capabilities go beyond what you expect for its price tag and more than anyone starting out would need especially if they have a small budget. Most of the major features are similar to what you would expect from a high end editor just a few years ago. The more advanced editors like Vegas and Premiere have a much higher learning curve but do provide many more capabilities. A lot of these features will never be used in any basic production.
If you have the money for a high end editor and more importantly the time to learn how to use it go for it. Otherwise I'd suggest sticking with more user friendly applications at least to get your feet wet.
There's no free replacement for a good editor that I'm aware of but you can certainly supplement your "arsenal" with the free tools available.