Last year Roxio’s approach with its Creator series was to bundle a host of products into one box (MS Office-style) and offer them as a digital media solution. The package was a great success, receiving multiple awards including our coveted Hot Product Award. The only real downside however was that although you had everything in the box to get you from start to finish there was no cohesive integration between the products. One year later and that’s all changed. Roxio Creator 7 not only offers updates of all the packages included in version 6, but has added a few more.

The crux of the package is now a central home page, designed to offer a series of options all at the click of a button. Spilt into two sections the top offers solutions rather than direct links to programs - “Create greeting card”, “Guided edit with StoryBuilder”, “Create a new audio CD” being just some examples and this friendly interface that has been designed with the novice or lazy user at heart.

Clicking on a solution launches the relevant program and once done the program is closed and you’re returned to the home page. It’s a relatively new idea but it’s quite well executed. However Roxio hasn’t forgotten its core users who’ve grown with the packages and know exactly what they are after either and for those users there are direct links to launch their desired program.

The impressive list of programs will woo almost anyone; Disc Copier, Capture, Media Manager, DVD Builder, PhotoSuite, Creator Classic, Drag-to-Disk, Label Creator, Roxio Player, Roxio Retriever, Sound Editor, VideoWave and Napster.

Where the homepage gets it right is the solution links that allow you to quickly select a task without having to find not only which program would be best for your requirements but then the actual element within that program saving you both time and frustration when trying to get to grips with an unfamiliar program.

One completely new package is the addition of the now legal Napster Music Download Client ready for the UK summer release. Building in the solution not only allows Roxio to offer music downloads within the package, but also allows users to seamlessly use its burning software within the Napster interface. Once songs are downloaded, Roxio aims to make the transfer to CD simple and more importantly for them, controllable. From an industry point of view it’s a stroke of genius and gives the music download service an edge over similar music services that will still expect you to invest in burning software if you want to transfer your tunes to CD.

Like Creator 6, Creator 7 is still wizard-based and users can choose the level at which they wish to work. If you’re unsure of the options you can easily find yourself skipping over most of the features within each program, however those that are perhaps a little more adventurous will be able to get the benefit of straying from the beaten path.

Price when reviewed:

The key success of this program is that Roxio has a clear idea of the target market for this product and hasn't left that path throughout successive updates. Even better, they've had the foresight to build a package that will grow with you. After all the majority of the programs, just like Creator 6, are simple utilities that make the task in hand easier. However the reason this product works so well, isn't necessarily the individual applications but the way they have been drawn together seamlessly through the main home page.

For the hardened Creator 6 user there is still plenty worth upgrading for. New programs including the CineMagic and StoryBuilder offer editing options for your video, while Napster will offer you a music download client later in the summer all from within the safety of the package. The best bit though has to be the price, and for £70 you can't really get better than this. Top Marks.