CD and DVD tools for the ever-increasing HD crowd
There was once a time when CD- and DVD-creation suites had a few simple jobs to do – burn data discs, rip music from audio CDs and handle disc images. Now it’s more complicated.
Suites have become bloated with features, from backup tools to photo editors, and now Blu-ray recorders are more affordable, more people want to create and watch high-definition discs.
Cyberlink’s DVD Suite Ultra is an interesting package as it combines these simple old-fashioned disc tools with cutting-edge HD features.
The suite installed without problems on our test system, and includes a launch tool called Power Starter that acts as a front end to the included programs.
This breaks the various tasks down into seven categories, with an eighth group that allows you to store your favourites for quick access.
Power Starter has a clear design and an elegant animated backdrop that looks far better than that of Nero’s Smartstart, for example.
The Music category allows you to rip audio CDs to MP3, burn audio CDs or burn MP3 files to a data disc. The data category is similarly straightforward, giving you a choice of burning files to a CD, DVD or Blu-ray disc. After an option is selected, the Power 2 Go burning tool opens for you to easily drag and drop files onto the disc and burn it.
The Movie Player category launches Power DVD 8, allowing you to watch DVDs or Blu-ray video discs. Most Blu-ray drives come with similar software, but if you’re upgrading this could allow you to pick up a cheaper OEM model instead. It’s a shame Cyberlink doesn’t include the newer Power DVD 9 instead, which integrates well with Windows Media Center.
The Video and Photo category contains most of the interesting tools. Manage Videos and Manage Photos both launch Cyberlink Mediashow, which allows you to organise photos and videos by date, view them, choose a collection of photos to be used as a screensaver, print photos and so on. The ability to upload photos directly to Flickr is especially handy. Photos can be edited using the Photos Now tool, but this is rather basic compared with dedicated applications.
The video-editing tools are better. Power Director 7 allows both timeline and storyboard-based editing, with a decent range of effects, titles and transitions. More impressively, you can work with HD video files and create Blu-ray or AVCHD DVD discs. Pulling 720p video from an AVCHD hard disk camcorder then burning it to disc, complete with a graphical menu, was fairly straightforward using the Power Producer tool.
The rest of the suite comprises useful but mundane tools to copy or erase discs and create or burn disc images. The Power Backup tool can work to a schedule and back up files to either a hard disk or optical discs.
DVD Suite Ultra competes against Roxio Creator 2009 and Nero 9, but neither of these includes the ability to create Blu-ray discs without paying for an extra plug-in, which brings the price of the packages more in line. Nero in particular offers some advanced tools that aren’t present in DVD Suite, such as a recovery tool for deleted files, but then DVD Suite’s interface is far more elegant and easier for less technical users to get to grips with. Our only complaint is that the constant adverts asking you to upgrade are a little annoying in such an expensive suite.
If you have no interest in Blu-ray or HD video DVD Suite Ultra is a little too expensive to recommend. If you do use those formats, or plan to upgrade in the near future, it’s the burning suite to buy.
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Pros: Elegant and simple interface; Blu-ray player; edits and burns HD video Cons: Not as feature-packed as its rivals Overall: DVD Suite Ultra is impressively easy to use, and a great buy if you’re new to HD video
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