By now, anyone who knows their way around an optical disc drive knows the names Roxio and Nero. The two media-creation mavens have been on the scene since practically the dawn of CD-burning time. And through to today, inclusion of one or the other’s software is de rigueur with the purchase of just about any retail PC or optical drive. Of course, the bundled software packages are but abbreviated versions of the full-on suites Roxio and Nero offer. The stand-alone packages go far beyond the basics of disc copying, burning, and playing—and that’s never been more true than today.
In recent months Nero and Roxio have released new iterations of their respective media-creation suites and both are packed with enough features to challenge the commitment of even manic media-philes. Roxio Easy Media Creator 10 and Nero 8 Ultra have come out swinging with more media-creation capabilities than we know what to do with… literally. Still, we’re willing to jump into the fray to figure it all out. We’ll tell you how these two suites rate and help you decide whether it’s worth upgrading from the software you’re already using.
These suites might promise the world, but there’s one crucial task that they’re plain incapable of: ripping the contents of a commercial DVD. Roxio, Nero, and other software makers must adhere to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which states that it’s illegal to provide technology that circumvents copy protection. But as we all know, there are perfectly legitimate reasons for copying the contents of a disc that has been legally purchased, such as making a backup or converting it for use on a portable player. That’s where SlySoft’s AnyDVD comes in (49 euros, www.slysoft .com). Produced in and sold from Antigua, West Indies, AnyDVD has but one solitary purpose: to free your disc content of copy protection. Once installed, the app hangs out in your task bar; the moment you drop a disc into your optical drive, AnyDVD scans the contents and removes copy protection when necessary from standard-def content, freeing you to proceed with your activities. An HD DVD- and Blu-ray-enabled add-on costs an additional 30 euros. Check out the free 21-day trial. Purchasing the full version makes you eligible for free upgrades for life!
Final Thoughts: Are Suites for Suckers?
Testing these two massive apps has us believing that less is more
We hate to give two competing apps the exact same verdict, but Nero 8 Ultra and Easy Media Creator 10 have impressed and appalled us to similar degrees. In the end, we felt they were both merely adequate as complete packages. Yes, it would be nice to have the handful of apps that each package excels at, but all the other add-ons jack up the price and tarnish the shine on the winners. We believe we’d be smarter, savvier, more Maximum PC, if you will, by choosing just the media-creation apps that suit our purposes from the various resources at our disposal. After all, iTunes, Windows, DVD Shrink, AutoGK, and the wonderful world of the web all offer serviceable free alternatives that will augment the basic burning software that comes with retail burners. And if you require more advanced features, you’re likely better off buying a few single-purpose programs than a do-it-all hodgepodge. That’s just our two cents.