by Jon L. Jacobi
Roxio's Creator Suite for optical disc burning lets you produce professional-looking disc menus, labels, and the like without a lot of artistic effort. Like previous iterations, the latest version, Roxio Creator 2010 ($99 as of August 24, 2009), does more than just burn discs. And Creator 2010 improves on its predecessor's interface and feature set, though the advances may not justify the upgrade cost for current users.
When augmented with the separately sold Blu-ray plug-ins (a $20 add-on), Creator 2010 is as comprehensive a burning suite as you can find. It covers all aspects of video/audio capture and editing, disc authoring, and everything else CD\DVD\BD0-related. The most noticeable change to Creator 2010 is the launch center's new look. Its layout closely resembles that of Creator 2009, but a new Learning Center option hosts tutorial videos covering some of the more-complex tasks that Creator handles. The rest of the suite presents much the same appearance and workflow as Creator 2009.
One major convenience is the new smart encoding feature: The software now reencodes only the portions of a video that you've edited and changed. This approach makes encoding much faster and may help preserve image quality.
All versions of Creator 2010 can save Internet audio and video, back up AVCHD video to DVD and Blu-ray, perform BD-RE editing on disc, and support nVidia CUDA and ATI Stream video conversion acceleration. The $130 Creator 2010 Pro includes the $20 Blu-ray authoring plug-ins and adds several bundled applications, including LightZone—a tantalizing tool that corrects lighting problems in digital images.
If you have the most recent version of Creator, the $60 upgrade price might be too high. If you're coming from an older version, the new features may be more appealing; but in that case, upgrading to the base version costs $70. And if you want Blu-ray playback, count on paying another $30 for Roxio CinePlayer BD. The suite costs significantly more than the equally powerful Nero 9 ($70 without BD playback); and even Cyberlink's DVD Suite 7 Ultra with Blu-ray playback ($130) is competitive, though the plug-ins included with Roxio Creator 2010 Pro help make it good value.
In a world where many free programs can handle basic burning tasks and even basic audio/video chores, you should spend your dollars carefully on software that makes video editing, disc authoring, and possibly Blu-ray playback easy. Creator 2010 shines in those areas, but so do a host of less expensive individual competitors.
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