CD Burning Programs
Better, Cheaper, & Faster
NTI CD-Maker 6 Platinum, by Charlie Weekley
This CD recording suite packs a wealth of functionality into a very easy-to-use package. In this suite, you will find all the tools you need to make any kind of CD/DVD you desire, right down to the jewel case cover. CD-Maker is direct and intuitive. Power users will not be disappointed. CD-Maker supports drag-and-drop packet writing, so you can treat a CD as if it were a floppy disk plus Send To shell integration.
Several technologies, including advanced caching and BurnProof, ensure that even the fastest CD burner doesn't make you a coaster. The program includes a nice, useful utility to produce labels.
Installation is a breeze. Wizards guide you through the entire process, and you can start recording right away. It is compatible with Windows 95 and higher.
The new CD-Maker offers an attractive, easy-to-navigate new GUI that makes for an appealing introduction to the program's diverse feature set. This new EasySteps welcomes you to the program with a screen-filling disk showing your initial options, reading clockwise from top: Data, Video, Copy, Advanced and Audio.
Click on any of these and a submenu will immediately pop up, offering choices within each, such as Data CD and Data DVD under Data (this version offers compatibility with the latest DVD-R/RW, +R/RW, -RAM recorders); VideoCD, Slideshow VCD, Super VCD, etc. Copy CD takes you directly to a new screen where you choose files/folders, then click EasySteps 2 to move on to the speed selection step. In this window, you can also select Advanced options such as Track-at-Once or Disk-at-Once or Smart Decision, which leaves CD-Maker to choose the best option for your particular project.
When selecting tracks for an audio CD, CD-Maker allows you the nice option of moving directly to the bundled Wave Editor tool to edit the selected track at the user's whim. By clicking on the "P" disk icon at the top of the screen, you can customize disk properties or add CD text information.
CD-Maker includes an AVI-to-MPEG 1 conversion tool, which is a useful tool for VideoCD creation. You have four format conversion options.
CD-Maker 6 is one of the most complete CD-RW software packages available. The CD-Maker has always been known for its ease of usage. Included is also FileCD packet writing software. Noteworthy features include:
I enjoyed toying with the ability to easily record live audio onto my CD. CD-Maker expertly combines strong functionality for power users with ease of use for novices. A downloadable version is available and updates and info at www.ntius.com.
Charlie Weekley is a HAL-PC member and small business owner in the graphic arts arena and the Scanning and Digital Imaging SIG leader. He can be reached at email@example.com.
NERO 5.5 CD Burning ROM, by Harold G. Spangler
CD burning is a wonderful invention, enabling even the most limited genius to thrust his creative efforts upon an unsuspecting world. Nero is driven by your choice of any of three wizards. It is an excellent, friendly package, designed so that you can burn a CD within three mouse-clicks. All you need to know is what type of disk you want to make: music, data, mixed or video. A very powerful package.
It works very fast, it's efficient and the easily understood interface walks you through every step in the process. Start with an Explorer type window-drag your files or tracks from the right panel across to the left, click the burn icon. Minutes later your new CD slides out. From creating standard audio and data CDs to burning VideoCDs and Super VideoCDs to DVD movies, Nero can handle nearly every known disk-mastering task. It also supports all five of the DVD disk formats: DVD-R, +R, -RW, +RW and -RAM. NOTE: This version only supports the MPEG-1 format.
Launch Nero and you have a choice of selecting Copy a CD or Compile a new CD; simply choosing your option will take you to the appropriate interface. Compile a new CD by simply dragging the files/folders from one window to another.
InCD, a package writing option that will erase data from a rewritable CD. You can use it to format a CD disk which can be used just as any floppy disk.
Nero has a backup feature, skip it. With today's hard drive size, it would take more than a hundred CDs to back up your system. Nero copies everything on the partition(s). This option is extremely limited.
The nicely printed quick start guide is OK, but limited. However, you really don't need that much help in using Nero, especially if you "ask" a Wizard to assist you!
The Nero Express wizard makes this program as easy to use as you'll find anywhere. Most of us will use Express most of the time. This is a kind-to-beginners program that also steps you through the CD creation process. If you want more control over your burns, use one of the other two, more advanced Wizards. (A bit daunting, but it puts every option in the disk-burning universe at your disposal.)
NeroVision Express is a video-capture/movie-authoring program. This video-capture/movie-authoring program bundled with Nero is straightforward, but includes a couple of gotchas. It will produce only MPEG-1 VideoCDs. You'll need to purchase Nero's $24 MPEG-2 encoder before you can create higher-quality Super VideoCDs or DVDs. Warning: this program tends to crash.
Nero will also rip audio files from CDs and encode them to WMA, MP3, MP3 Pro, and MPEG-4 AAC. All except the WMA encoder are demo versions that are either time limited, restricted to 30 or 50 uses, or both. If you just want unlimited MP3 encoding for less money, you can find it in Stomp's RecordNow Max.
Still a problem: if you exit Nero, you cannot restart it. You must first restart your computer. Nero has consistently offered reliable, top-flight performance. This version is even better. Get e-mail or voice tech support plus FAQs at their web site. Go to www.nero.com for additional updates and info. Editor's note: A new version will be available by mid-summer.
Harold Spangler is a HAL-PC member and NASA software consultant who can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roxio Easy CD& DVD Creator 6, by Robert Du Vernay
Roxio's Easy CD V6 has gotten big and looks like an XP product. V6 was tested on an AMK K7/1 GHz 788 MB RAM system, which is about minimum requirement. If you have Easy CD v5 now, don't worry; this guy will get rid of it for you.
To install, you will need an Internet connection, for the online registration. Yes, you do want to register, because when you do you will find out what patches you need to complete the product (I needed four). You will also be required to set your display at 1028 x 768 (minimum). This makes the icons smaller and it annoys me to have an application tell me what and how to arrange my desktop. My registration of V6 aborted because my e-mail address was already on file with Roxio. If you have this problem, fake it.
AUDIO Suite is OK and better organized than V5. Does a very nice job ripping MP3s. Gracenote CDDB is available to get all the details on those CDs music files you want to copy; and,
PHOTO Suite now does V-CDs (very slowly) and DVDs. The Photo editing abilities are very basic; and,
VIDEO Recording represents the bulk of release V6. You can download pictures and clips thru a TWAIN connection directly from your digital camera. There was a big review of the VIDEOWAVE v5 by Roxio program in this February '03 Magazine, if you would like more information on the Roxio's video. V6 supports all the current formats on the market now (+ and -). I don't have a DVD burner; and,
DATA Recording has been improved; Drag-to-Disc function now works! Easily back up your data files, even across multiple CDs/DVDs, and do a restore with a single click. An old problem (the first thing I checked for) is still there. The first track on a direct copy music CD is often distorted (10-15% of the time), forcing one to abandon the direct copy method.
E-mail technical support for V6 is free for the first 90 days after the first e-mail and there is the Credit Card type via telephone, if you need it. This product is very well documented.
All in all, Easy CD v6 CD/DVD (this release) does not get a pass. Roxio messed up the slide show feature by forcing the V-CD mode, failed to fix a major flaw and then there are the patches that are necessary for a new product straight out of the box! Still can't find anywhere in this new product where one can set up a verify function to insure a copy is 100%, nor is there a CD image copy function except for a project. If you need or want the new expanded VIDEO capabilities perhaps it will be good for you. I will live with Easy CD v5.3 for a while longer.
Robert Du Vernay is a HAL-PC member who is the chief instructor for the CD Burning for Everyone class and chair of the first Saturday New Internet Users. He can be contacted email@example.com.
Roxio Toast Titanium - Mac Burning!, by Ginger Goldman
Why should you spend $99 on Roxio Toast Titanium? After all, your Mac shipped with Disc Burner and your CD/DVD burner came with software. I was using Adaptec Toast that came with my Yamaha Firewire Burner. I found it difficult to use, and was frustrated that it would not allow burn speeds at the rate stated on my burner. Toast Titanium is much more feature-rich and intuitive than the OEM software.
I tested Toast 5.2 on a Power Mac G4 450 using a Yamaha Firewire 40X CD Burner using Mac OS 9.2.2. Installing Toast was exceptionally easy. The software did install four new extensions: Toast CD Reader, Toast Firewire Support, Toast USB Support, and Toast Video CD Support. If these extensions are turned off, the software will not work.
A full install includes Toast, Panic Audion, iView Media, Magic Mouse Discus, CD Spin Doctor, free music samples, and digital photo samples. The full install requires 334 MB of disk space or you can do a custom install. I did a full install plus the update.
The interface of Toast is very intuitive. Opening the application you see options for Data, Audio, Copying, and Other. You simply click the icon for the type of CD or DVD you want to burn. Then you drag and drop the files you want to burn into the interface. When creating audio CDs, you can listen to the music while the CD is burning!
The software ran without a hitch. I was shocked by how quickly the program checked the speed at which I could burn the CD. The software allowed me to burn CDs at a speed faster than my burner is rated. I made Audio CDs that played in my very finicky stereo. Then I went on to make multi-session CDs. These worked fine when put into a Mac; but only the last burned session showed up on my Windows machine. The multi-session option is nice so that you can actually keep adding to a CD that is not full. The last test that I tried was to make a V-CD. I used a MOV file and the "other" option. I dragged the MOV file onto the interface. Toast then performed the MPEG encoding. The encoding process took about 10-15 minutes. The V-CD worked on my computer and the DVD player connected to my TV.
Toast also comes with a very concise and well-indexed user's manual. I learned a great deal by reading the manual and also learned of many new features.
There is 90-day complimentary technical support via e-mail as long as you have your Technical Support Identification (TSID) number. The TSID ships with the full retail product. I suggest checking their web site or e-mailing Roxio.
I'm now spoiled! I could not go back to using any other software for burning CDs/DVDs. The other installed utilities are also very nice and full of useful features. In particular I like CD Spin Doctor. I was able to use it to clean up a track of vinyl record music that had some cracking and popping noises.
System requirements: Power Mac, Mac OS 9.1+ or Mac OS 10.1.2+, 16 MB RAM (24 MB recommended), minimum of 100 MB free hard disk space, Quicktime 4.0 or later. More at www.roxio.com.
Virginia (Ginger) Goldman is a HAL-PC member and a Mac user since 1986. She does web design and digital artwork, and can be found at www.hal-pc.org/~ginger/alt_index.
Charles W. Evans is a HAL-PC member and the Magazine’s Reviews Editor who can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org