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Are Do-It-All CD/DVD Packages Worth It?

Product Summaries, Continued

The list of capabilities for either Nero 7 Premium Reloaded or Roxio Easy Media Creator 9 is truly staggering. Both packages now go well beyond simply creating and burning CDs and DVDs to include full-fledged DVD content creation and authoring, photo editing and retouching, and fairly rich TV capture, record, and transcoding capabilities. Surprisingly, both products include competent, full-featured backup capabilities that even offer the ability to create bootable CDs and to restore backups or disk images without requiring an OS to be reinstalled on a hung or otherwise damaged system.

In fact, for anything short of professional-grade DVD authoring or digital photo editing tools (see the sidebar entitled "The Cadillac Solution" for a discussion of the superb but also costly Adobe Creative Suite Production Studio Premium that is a real next step up), either Nero 7 or Roxio Easy Media Creator 9 is up to the task. The same thing goes for working with your family photos, creating and managing music collections, and even backing up your system.

Though these packages will cost you from $50-100 (Nero) or $60-100 (Roxio), they really deliver an awful lot of capability in return - so much capability, in fact, that we talk about the "bloatware" phenomenon in another sidebar entitled "Bonus or Bloat", and compare the decode capabilities for both packages against two popular and widely-owned decoder packages (Intervideo WinDVD and the Nvidia DVD Decoder) in yet one more sidebar entitled "Do You Really Need Another Decoder?" And finally, we explain why we cover only Windows XP in reporting test results in the next section of this story in the final sidebar entitled "Why We Didn't Test on Vista."

Limited Testing To Compare Packages

Just for grins, we decided to invite another solution into our test comparison, mostly for to provide a free and simple baseline against which to evaluate the Roxio and Nero offerings. Though we found numerous Open Source and freeware CD/DVD burning packages available (visit sourceforge.net and search on "CD DVD burn" to see what we mean) we chose a single package named Infrarecorder to provide a point of reference against which to compare the other two commercial products.

Infrarecorder is a very simple package that provides the ability to create and burn a variety of basic CD and DVD formats for data, video, and music. It offers none of the editing and authoring capabilities you'll find in Nero 7 and Easy Media Creator 9 and can neither handle nor transcode anywhere near as many audio or video formats. That said, it's an entirely satisfactory basic package with a mere 6.72 MB footprint on disk that enables its users to grab and create collections of files for burning to CD or DVD and to do likewise with disk images created for backup, boot-up, archiving or various forms of multi-media playback. We used it to perform the same compilation burn as with Roxio and Nero to see how a free package stacked up against its commercial competition, and to provide a point of reference against which to evaluate performance overall.