Don’t let the “bloatware” boogeyman scare you away. Even though the Nero 7 Ultra Edition suite now comes with no fewer than 18 applications, you’ll never even see the ones you don’t want or need. But adventurous types will discover that Nero 7 has reinvented itself as a suite that’s as useful for enjoying your media as it is for committing it to disc.
At the fore of this new angle is Nero Home, a sleek media-center interface with large, comfy icons that are as easy to see and control from the couch (via a third-party remote control) as they are to access on your PC. Launching Nero Home automatically fires up Nero Scout, which indexes the media files on all of your drives, or just the drives and folders you specify (in case you want to exclude video of a personal nature).
Nero Home also includes integrated TV time-shifting that trots you gracefully through the setup process. You can then search through your media files and your TV recordings from the Nero Home screen, and even create playlists without losing your proximity to the potato chips. Nero Scout also shows up in My Computer, giving you a directory-like alternative structure to access your media.
It’s a testament to the maturity of Nero’s core CD- and DVD-burning application that little has changed—or needed to—other than a nominally cleaner and more configurable interface. With so many applications in the suite, however, Nero SmartStart earns its keep as a task-based usher that sends you where you want to go, to do what you want to do, whether it’s compressing an (unencrypted) double-layer DVD to fit on a single-layer disc, editing WAV files with Nero Wave Editor 3, or importing photographs from an SD card using Nero Photosnap.
Other applications, however, got the extra lovin’ they needed to be useful as stand-alone utilities. Nero BackItUp, for example, is now capable of performing scheduled backups to an FTP address, and the new “Shadow Copy” feature can save stumblebums from disaster by making backup copies at intervals throughout the day, so that a carelessly deleted file can be retrieved from a stored copy.
Another component that got a huge upgrade is audio recording, with Nero WAV Editor 3 supporting tracks with up to 7.1 channels and automatic track splitting (so your vinyl rip will automatically be imported as individual tracks based on the silence between songs). For heaven’s sake, you even get Nero SoundBox, a clever and intuitive sonic playground that includes a drum machine and sequencer to create your own “beats,” which could bag you a DJ gig in Miami a few months down the road. Or more likely not.
Naturally, we can come up with a couple complaints. We would have liked the media player Nero ShowTime 2 to support external subtitles in the SUB or SRT formats, and though we’re well aware of the capabilities of the homegrown Nero Digital MPEG-4 codec, we’d have preferred to see Nero support encoding to other MPEG-4 formats, such as Divx, in addition to Nero Digital.
This is an application suite polished so brightly you can see your reflection in it, and history tells us that Nero 7 Ultimate Edition is a whopping value. Two years elapsed between versions 5 and 6, and another two years between 6 and 7, during which time registered users were entitled to download updates and even whole applications added to the suite at no additional charge. We’ll go beyond endorsing Nero 7—we’ll ask, can you afford not to have it?
Month Reviewed: December 2005
+ DISC DRIVES: Nero 7 makes 18 applications as easy to use and enjoy as a single one.
- BEEHIVES: No external subtitle support in Nero ShowTime 2; no support for DivX.