Like Nero, EMC 10 eases you into the app-stravaganza with a categorized front end.
Back when Roxio’s product was called Easy CD Creator, it was a favorite among enthusiast disc-makers, but over time it became bloated and buggy, allowing Nero to gain traction. Knowing this, it’s hard not to perceive a hint of one-upmanship in Easy Media Creator 10. This suite offers a whopping 29 individual apps to Nero’s 22 (whether that’s a good thing depends on your uses for such a bounty).
Furthermore, EMC 10 is actually certified for Vista, for whatever that’s worth. (As in Nero, the suite’s individual apps certainly performed reliably enough, even in Vista’s 64-bit mode.) Also, EMC 10 offers two sidebar gadgets (versus Nero’s one): Audio/Video Converter, which you set up with your preferred profiles, and Audio Capture, for recording Internet radio via your soundcard. Furthermore, metadata such as tags and ratings created in EMC 10 are integrated with Vista’s media tools and vice versa.
EMC 10 outdoes Nero in other ways as well. In its PhotoSuite, for example, you’ll find an even greater array of editing options and support for layers, as well as templates for a number of photo projects (calendar, collage, card, etc.). EMC’s movie-creation app, MyDVD, also packs more effects and transitions than Nero’s; its video editor, on the other hand, is equal to Nero’s, sporting a timeline for editing video footage and support for two audio tracks.
MyDVD offers a respectable, easy-to-use tool for creating movies.
The area of movie-creation actually serves as a good example of why EMC 10’s total app count is so large. Besides MyDVD, the suite also offers MyDVD Express—an unnecessary simplification of an already straightforward program. You also get CineMagic, which lets you drop in video and audio, select a theme (e.g., Memories), and then sit back while a movie is instantly created for you, complete with a cheesy theme-related opening and music that perfectly fits the length of your footage. In other words, there’s something for every experience level here. And to this end, Roxio does a decent job of integrating compatible apps for seamless use with one another and providing clear instructions and help files.
Still, we were disappointed with the DivX-to-DVD creation we made in MyDVD. We merely added a static menu to the start of our video, but the resultant disc was unplayable in EMC 10’s own playback app, CinePlayer. The menu froze at the title, and we couldn’t bypass that screen to access the movie itself. This happened with two different discs. Interestingly, the discs played fine in a set-top DVD player. Their image quality, however, was noticeably inferior to that of the disc we made with Nero (same source material, similar menu, same procedures).
EMC 10 redeemed itself with competitive performance in its Copy & Convert program. To test it, we first shrank the contents of a double-layer commercial DVD containing episodes of a TV show to fit on a single-layer disc. The transcoding/encoding took a little more than 17 minutes (the same as Nero), the video quality was acceptable, and the file contained all the elements of the original—distinct episodes, menus, everything.
We were also pleased with the app’s performance when we converted a single episode using the H.264 codec—again, times were similar to Nero’s, and in both apps, the encoder took advantage of all four cores in our test rig. However, EMC 10 bests Nero with support for far more codecs, including DivX and straight H.264.
Something you won’t find in EMC 10 is support for Blu-ray, HD DVD, or even AVCHD authoring (or playback, for that matter). You can, however, burn data discs in either the Blu-ray or HD DVD formats, provided you have a capable burner, of course. We tested this functionality by burning 22GB of data to a single-layer Blu-ray disc, which took EMC 10 about 90 minutes, the same as Nero.
The green arrows in the corner of your media files let you preview content from with Media Manager.
Other notable features in EMC 10 include the ability to rip two CDs simultaneously; a backup component that’s not quite as robust as Nero’s, but does let you schedule and perform unattended full or partial backups; and Media Manager, which gives you views of all the media on your PC and connected devices, lets you create profiles for syncing between the two, and offers a preview function from within the interface. Media Manager also gives you an Upload to YouTube option when you right-click on any media file—and it actually worked.
But we wouldn’t say that EMC 10 performed without incident. Besides the CinePlayer glitch we described above, we also experienced occasional lockups in MyDVD and found that we were unable to stop a transcoding job via the Cancel button—rather, we had to resort to Ctrl+Alt+Del. Such are the pitfalls of such mammoth software packages; there are bound to be wrinkles that still need ironing out. We were also peeved to discover that an update of the program requires a user to register and re-enter the friggin’ product code. Nero doesn’t require either action to update.
If Nero 8 is the media-creation suite for power users, EMC 10 is for everyone else. And we really mean everyone: from the grandma who just wants to put together a photo album with minimal fuss to young Billy who can’t get enough of ringtones, MySpace, and anything PSP. In that respect, this is probably a good family app—but it’s way more than any single, serious computer user is likely to use, so why tolerate the cost, clutter, and inherent compromises?