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

We wanted to run the many and various packages discussed in this story on Vista. However, it didn't work. Here's a quick recount of the problems we ran into as we worked with the various software packages included herein. (The only packages we didn't try on Vista were (1) Adobe Creative Suite Production Studio Premium, because we'd already installed it on XP and didn't have the ability to port the key over to a new install without much too much fuss and bother, and (2 and 3) the DVD decoders from InterVideo and Nvidia, because we'd already "struck out" before we got that far):

The best we can say is that as of early March 2007 it still appears to be a little too soon even for early adopters to consider wholesale switchovers to Vista for burning, transcoding or ripping CDs and DVDs - at least, with the software we examined for this story. Given that it's just a bit over 30 days past the official Vista release date of January 30, 2007, this is neither terribly surprising nor especially encouraging. Rather, we consider it just part and parcel of answering all the tough "will it work for me?" questions that users must address before they can proceed with partial or wholesale Vista migration.

When we dug into these suites, our first reaction was to feel entirely overwhelmed by all the features and functions, as well as bells and whistles they bring to the party. We asked Craig Campbell, Americas Technical Director for Nero, point blank how he felt about the occasional accusations that Nero 7 Premium Reloaded qualified as "bloatware." While acknowledging that the package includes a lot of functionality, he maked the point that users can install only those elements they actually plan to use, and thereby cut down considerably on what some might regard as excess adipose tissue in the Nero framework. When we pressed him to explain why, for example, the company includes a VoIP application as part of the package, he cheerfully conceded that the advent of Skype and other free VoIP packages made Nero's offering untenable as a standalone product. But the company apparently decided that it was better to get some continuing use out of that code. Thus, rather than retiring the product, they decided to bundle it with the latest version of the Nero 7 suite.

On the Roxio side, you'll find substantial extra functionality that aims at cellphones and mobile devices, including a tool for creating custom ring tones. Aside from enabling such devices to receive photos, audio, and video, you can even use Easy Media Creator 9 to sample other audio, grab elements from the loop library, or import sounds to use for incoming calls and signals.

Somehow the old saying that one man's trash is another man's treasure comes to mind, as does the notion that insults, like alcohol, only affect you if you ingest them. The best advice we can offer you when dealing with these packages is to take the custom install option and to install only those components that you think you will actually use. Because you can always go back and add other components later, this will help you stave off the bloat you don't need in favor of the functions you actually want. The only thing we might suggest to these vendors is that they consider creating component profiles that match usage scenarios, so that those who want to work with audio and create DVDs will know which modules they need, while those who only want to rip and burn CDs and DVDs can stick to the core modules that let them do what they want.