When you think about copying and burning CDs and DVDs there are only two real contenders on the market, Roxio and Nero and with Roxio releasing Creator 2009 a matter of weeks ago, the arrival of Nero 9 wasn't too much of a surprise.
Users looking for a major overhaul of this suite of tools will be in for a disappointment as this acts and feels more like a logical extension than anything else. The interface that saw a dramatic change in the previous version has been tweaked but remains largely the same.
With over 20 different applications on offer, from the standard Nero Burning ROM and Nero Express, through to Nero WaveEditor and Nero SoundTrax, you’ll be able to edit movies and music as well as copy the results to disc.
There is the usual problem that a lot of this stuff is simply bloatware and you’ll need 1.5GB of space if you’re to install it all. We’re not convinced the average user will really make the most of all these features but at least it allows you to grow into the package instead of forcing you to buy plug-ins later on.
The way you launch programs has been stepped up and is based around the Nero StartSmart menu. This allows you to choose which program you want to launch from a single convenient portal.
There are the changes you'd expect from the latest version, such as support for Blu-ray as well as AVCHD and similar HD formats. Your movie projects can either be saved to disc, or as we’re increasingly seeing, converted and sent straight to MySpace and YouTube.
It's not just copying media files as this suite also offers backup tools in the form of AutoBackup, which can also be launched from the StartSmart menu. BackItUp 4 is offered as a free install but the new application is linked to Nero Online Backup services, which allows you to buy online storage space.
If you have a TV tuner built into your PC you can now use this suite to control the broadcast and record any footage.
This all adds up to a powerful and resourceful suite of tools that moves Nero away from simply copying CDs. When it comes to usability, you'll find that Roxio still has the edge in terms of ease-of-use, as the menus and editing tasks are handled better. However, in terms of performance and the actual time it takes to carry out tasks, Nero continues to have the edge.
Nero 9 isn't so much an overhaul of the core program, more a steady development of Version 8. With that in mind, there is little here to tempt you to part with the upgrade fee. However, if you're thinking of buying Nero for the first time, there is plenty here to tempt you, and what's more, it all works remarkably well.