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Nero 2017 Platinum — a multimedia suite for editing, burning, converting and playing audio and video — comprises 15 apps and services under one roof. It lets you quickly compose, edit and export movies to CD, DVD, Blu-ray or the web. Nero offers deep functionality, but its inflexibility and somewhat disjointed presentation can be distracting.
The 2017 version of Nero sports a redesigned Start screen and QuickStart feature that propels you right to the heart of editing your videos. Nero's MediaHome and MediaBrowser modules gather all of your device assets in one place, making metadata and playback available in a clear, unambiguous, discrete layout.
The first time you launch Nero, the app displays the full spectrum of its functionality in five areas: Manage & Play, Edit & Convert, Rip & Burn, Backup & Rescue, and Extras. It's clear, but not elegant.
The abundance of modules on the launch page is a bit overwhelming. I found it easier to use the Windows application menu to choose the modules I wanted to launch rather than selecting from the launch menu. Although the modules can work together, they are all in separate windows.
Within the editing interface, two modes — Express Editing and Advanced Editing — give you a choice between timeline and storyboard styles. Both look crisp and clear. You can build a project in Express Editing mode and switch to Advanced Editing for more fine-tuning, but once you start editing in the advanced module, you cannot switch back. In contrast, more flexible storyboard features in Corel VideoStudio, CyberLink PowerDirector and Premiere Elements' Quick mode do allow you to switch back.
Nero includes plenty of transitions and effects, but unlike in Premiere Elements and other video editing software, you cannot search for them. Rather, you must choose from the list and designate favorites to find them easily the next time you want them. The Effects menu is partly hidden at first, and in close proximity to the My Media palette, so you need to click on it to see all of the multimedia effects, which are arranged neatly by type.
MediaHome lets you identify people in your footage and pinpoint places where the video was shot. However, the automatic location function did not work especially well in my testing; in some cases, it indicated the wrong locations, and in others, it didn't identify a location at all. However, you can easily use the built-in map to add or correct locations. The MediaHome browser also picked up a lot of irrelevant image files, but it was easy to delete them from the library.
As with some of its more advanced competitors, such as Corel VideoStudio and CyberLink PowerDirector, Nero works with a range of formats, including HEVC (H.265) and 4K videos from smartphones, digital cameras and camcorders. The video module's Express and Advanced modes facilitate numerous effects and transitions on the timeline. Stylish menus are available for DVDs and Blu-ray discs, and you can design CD sleeves with Nero's Cover Designer.
A new multi-export feature, based on scene detection, works in the Express Editing mode to deliver short movie clip highlights derived from longer footage. From those short takes, you can choose the ones you want and use the multi-export batch function to save and share them.
The Nero MediaHome WiFi Sync app lets you exchange files between iOS or Android smartphones or tablets and your desktop. It worked fine once I properly bypassed my Windows firewall controls.
The new KnowHow interactive learning guide assists users with Nero's extensive functions, offering tips and tricks in the form of short video tutorials, manuals, FAQs and a glossary. In Windows 10, you can access it directly from the application or the Start menu, or use it on your smartphone or tablet (iOS, Android, or Windows 10 Phone).
The app includes background audio clips, features new Gracenote support for embedded album cover art, and lets you replace audio from your video clips and apply noise reduction and various audio effects. The new SecurDisc 4.0 tech provides password protection and 256-bit encryption for disc burning.
I tested Nero on an HP Spectre x360 laptop running Windows 10 Home. Its 64-bit Intel Core i5-5200U processor runs at 2.2 GHz on an Intel HD Graphics 5500 system with 8GB of RAM. I combined five clips into a 2.5-minute video shot at 60 frames per second and rendered the projects to MPEG 4 at 720p. We timed rendering at both 60 fps and 30 fps.
Export speeds landed on the low end of the pack for both 30 fps and 60 fps, at 4:06 and 6:43, respectively. The overall top-ranked CyberLink PowerDirector 15 Ultra scored 1:58 at 30 fps and 3:07 at 60 fps. Nero also crashed occasionally — and was the only one of the video apps I tested to do so — but reinstalling the program seemed to fix the stability issues.
Nero offers a respectable assortment of video export formats, in addition to DVD, AVCHD and Blu-ray — and you can output audio separately. The web export feature saves your video for online venues, and if you choose that option, Nero gives you a direct menu to upload to YouTube. But there are no specific output presets for other popular sites, like Facebook or Vimeo; competitors such as Premiere Elements, CyberLink PowerDirector and VideoPad do provide these options.
Nero comes in Classic and Platinum versions, with the latter offering all of the features of the former but adding 4K playback, video editing, and HEVC (H.265, High Efficiency Video Coding) support. The Platinum version packs 300 additional effects, video filters and templates, plus 42 4K-optimized templates that you can use to automatically create movies or slideshows. It also features picture-in-picture, chroma keying, slow motion, time lapse, tilt-shift and other common special effects. Nero 2017 Platinum offers a Music Recorder, which requires a separate installation, that lets you record MP3s from internet radio stations for free.
While the modules are fairly well organized and neatly arranged, and the Wi-Fi syncing app is useful, there remains something uninspiring and challenging about Nero. The software's multitude of modules offer all the basics in terms of functionality — and there's some clever use of mobile apps added to the mix — but the execution of these many features has flaws. Enhanced flexibility and interface integration, as in CyberLink's PowerDirector 15 Ultra or Corel VideoStudio Ultimate X10, would be an improvement. Some video editors are fun to use, but that is not quite the experience I had with Nero.
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Jackie is an obsessive, insomniac tech writer and editor in northern California. A wildlife advocate, cat fan, and photo app fanatic, her specialties include cross-platform hardware and software, art, design, photography, video, and a wide range of creative and productivity apps and systems. Formerly senior editor at Macworld and creativity editor at The Next Web, Jackie now writes for a variety of consumer tech publications.