When it comes to copying CDs, no matter how many options there are, it always comes down to two choices; Nero or Roxio. With its latest offering, Roxio plan to take the lead in the digital manipulation and copying arena. What you get with Easy CD and DVD Creator 6 is a package that offers about everything you could want from a digital media suite leaving Nero far behind in its wake.
Let's cut to the chase and tell you what you get in the box. Packed with a cornucopia of options, there are seven major programs and two useful utilities in the box; Audio Central, Disc Copier. Creator Classic, Drag-to-Disc, DVD Builder, Label Creator, Roxio PhotoSuite 5, Roxio Player, and Roxio Retrieve. Not bad for a bundle that only costs you £50 and features a copier, art package, movie editor, label builder and media player amongst other things.
But it's not just by sheer effort in supplying every option that you could want under the sun that this software package excels. The plethora of programs stand up on their own and each does a great job. Some are more guided towards beginners and others are mere utilities that perform one function, but the ensemble makes a package that not only offers what it sets out to do, but also offers you that little bit extra, as if it is happy to work past going home time, through the night and still be sitting at its desk when you come back in the next morning.
What's in the box
On the copy side of things, and to us the main crux of the package you have three programs that will service most needs and it is here that the package excels.
Disc Copier is the straightforward backup solution. Put a CD-R in your CD-Rewriter, the source CD in your other CD drive and press copy. Simple as that. With just a single, perhaps combo drive, the program simply copies the information to the hard drive first and prompts you to swap disk when ready. With a break out box offering you the chance to set options such as test before you burn and advance setting such as gather forward information as the CD burns to speed up the process and it's a case of one click and everything is done.
Drag-to-Disc is a utility bundled in the box that takes over from DirectCD. Treating your CD like a floppy, files can be directly dragged onto a toolbar that floats on your desktop when you want to back things up. Sounds simple enough and in reality it works very well. Backing up is always a chore and anything that makes this process easy has got to be a good thing- even if burning data to CD-RW remains the superior choice.
Creator Classic, the main element of the copying facilities allows you to create data, music, MP3 Player discs, Enhanced CDs, Mixed Mode CDs and Bootable CDs all with a few clicks of the mouse. Couple that with its simple to use interface that is both slick and intuitive and you've got a killer application. Those making music tracks will be pleased to know that you can pre-define the gap between songs and if you really want you can merge the tracks and select transitions between the two. Why would you want this? Well compilation makers wanting 80mins of continuous dance music will be in seventh heaven and the days of getting short silences as the tracks mix together can disappear forever.
Of course you can convert tracks either way if you are making a MP3 playback disc and if you are connected to the internet the software package uses CDDB to gain track information before recording the CD.
With discs coming in different sizes and the standardisation around the 80-minute CD-R/W in the last year or so, you'll want to know how much space you have left on the disk and here Creator Classic offers a simple timeline to see what you are doing, how much space you have left and even the individual tracks themselves.
However, Roxio Easy CD and DVD Creator 6 is not just about burning disc's and bundled in the box are a number of programs that will make what's on the disk shine.
Audio Central is Roxio's answer to Windows Media Player and in reality is nothing new. Offering all the same functions, you would be mistaken for thinking that this is an identical twin. Like Media Player you can arrange files in a media library, play CDs, MP3s etc. as well as tag songs, choose skins and create play lists. Unlike Media Player the Audio Central doesn't offer a radio player but does offer an audio recording element for you to record tapes or vinyl records through your soundcard.
Become a movie director
DVD Builder is the DVD authoring software that Roxio has included to get you into the world of DVD making. Here you have a range of options from creating interactive menus to editing actual video with transitions etc. The package is simply to use and you can load everything from video clips, to digital stills and more all onto a DVD to bore your friends with.
Of course you need to have DVD recorder and with the formats still battling it out for superiority, you might find that this part of the software isn't used for a few months if not longer when you get the software. That said, it isn't a weak link in the package and when DVD recording does become the norm, will be a useful program to have in the package.
There can't be more?
With so many packages involved in this suite is not strange to find yet another poking out from the packaging; PhotoSuite 5. The excellent package for beginners offers simple, but effective photo manipulation of your images and makes them ready for burning via slideshows or backup discs. Users can correct colour and edit their photos amongst other things and for a full review of the stand-alone Platinum version of the product check the software reviews list.
While some of the programs in this suite are aimed at the beginner, the crux of the package, the Creator Classic, is simple and effective, but not stupid. It offers plenty to the novice and advanced user alike. If you just want to back up files then so be it. If you are looking for something a little more in depth with plenty of options then it can cope with that as well.
Put simply, this suite offers everything you could want and things you don't even know you want yet and seems to obey the even-numbers-good rule after the bugs in version five made national news. That's just a bad memory now that v6 has taken over. It's excellent.