Interesting. I too have Premiere Elements and have become a bit frustrated at the amount of time to encode. Elements uses the MainConcept encoder, couple that with the overall memory management of the software, and I get double the time encoding a DV_AVI movie to MPEG than I do using my Ulead software (ULead MPEGNow encoder).
The question is is it worth it? Well Elements boasts a much better array of presets, filters and effects that ULead Video Studio, and has a much better user interface (IMHO). But the encoding thing can be very frustrating.
COMPAQ something or other with 500Gb Boot Disk, 1Tb external Firewire Disk, 4Gb Memory and a super duper sound card, 19" TFT Monitor etc etc etc
Sony TRV33e : Sony TRV310e : Canon XM2
Sony Vegas Studio editions to v11
Remember, there is always more to learn than there is to teach.