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

Conclusions

It's hard for us to weigh in on behalf of one product or the other, especially because we've used Nero for at least six years and don't have anywhere near that much experience with Roxio Easy Media Creator. That said, we'd give a nod to Nero for its modest burn performance differential, and another tip of the hat to Easy Media Creator for its excellent decoder performance. As far as we can tell, it's a toss-up between the two packages, where our own familiarity with Nero inclines us to stick with that product simply because we know its tools and interfaces better. That said, both of these suites offer lots of solid, usable functionality so you can probably pick either one and come away happy, providing you're willing to learn how to use what you purchase.

The best thing about both products is that you'll begin working with them expecting good and usable DVD and CD burning capabilities, only to find those expectations well met. And that's before you learn to appreciate their photo editing and management, audio compilation and management, and DVD and slideshow authoring capabilities along the way. Then, too, you may just find a usable backup facility thrown into the deal as well.

If you're ready to add significantly to your video production budget, you can take a huge step up from the likes of the supersuites (such as Nero 7 Premium Reloaded or Roxio Easy Media Creator 9 that serve as the focus of our main story) to the Adobe Creative Suite Production Studio Premium package, a multi-tool suite with just about everything an aspiring video or DVD auteur might need or want.

Inside the Adobe Production Studio Premium box you'll find six products, plus training materials and manuals.

Here's what you get when you lay hands on this package (we cover pricing, bundles, and possible deals later in this sidebar):

You'll also get a couple of special utilities available only with this or similar Adobe Suite offerings. The first is Adobe Dynamic Link; the second Adobe Bridge. Adobe Dynamic Link is a facility that permits files from one suite application to be accessed directly inside another suite application. This applies especially to images, sequences, or photos from Adobe After Effects and Adobe Photoshop, that can be entered right into the editing timeline in Adobe Premiere Pro without being re-rendered or re-imported, while retaining access to all layers from the original file. Then there's Adobe Bridge, which brings all project files together into a single command center, thereby providing a single, integrated interface through which to manage audio and video files, as well as native Photoshop and Illustrator files, plus Adobe After Effects projects.

Adobe Bridge is a search tool that uses XMP metadata to interrogate all files for which such information is available so that you can access digital image capture information, copyright status, keywords, and other file properties from a single interface. The tool also makes it easy to create or edit metadata from any content file and even multiple files at the same time, without requiring you to invoke a related application. Adobe Bridge also supports a template mechanism that allows you to create and save metadata templates for quick, easy access to specific, user-defined sets of content files. This tool also offers various views of file information that include thumbnails, filmstrips and detailed listings to make it easy to locate and grab the files you need at any time.

This kind of functionality includes a set of applications that already enjoy best-of-breed status for photos (Photoshop), audio (Audition), post-production visual effects (After Effects), and DVD editing (Adobe Encore DVD) along with powerful production coordination tools (Premiere Pro plus the aforementioned Dynamic Link and Bridge facilities). That explains why this stuff is by no means cheap. Students or faculty at accredited academic institutions can qualify for huge discounts, but even they must pay at least $450-550 to purchase this package. Those who already own the Adobe Video Collection Standard, or other Creative Suite collections, can find upgrade deals at prices from $616 up to $1,200. Prices and offerings vary depending on what you've already got and what kinds of online merchants you're willing to trade with. Those who want to buy the whole enchilada without some kind of discount will have to pay a whopping $1,635 and up (with some prices over $2,000).

But those who really want to do serious video editing, create scintillating post-production effects or build truly professional DVD-based works will find the considerable expense of the Adobe Creative Suite Production Studio Premium entirely justified. While this usually means that professionals are the primary owners and users of this kind of ultra-capable package, well-heeled or very serious amateurs and enthusiasts need look no further to find the real Rolls Royce of video, audio, and DVD production suites.