Nero has been the most popular media burning software for many years and when we heard that a new version was coming out, naturally we were looking forward to it. We were slightly dubious as to whether it would be any different from the previous iterations but are happy to report that Nero 7 Premium is no longer just burning software. As people have become more obsessed with collating and manipulating their multimedia collections, the need for a complete multimedia package has pushed Nero into evolving. Their answer is to create a clone of Microsoft's Windows Media Centre while also providing various video and audio editing options. Unfortunately, it seems more of a step sideways than a step up, as their first foray is not without its problems.
- Superior performance and design. Media Centre usage, Easy to use
- Scout program not consistent.
Nero 7 has evolved to become more than just a burning program and while it isn’t quite perfect, it’s ease of use and innovative features make it a great buy.
Price$ 108.35 (AUD)
The tried and true Nero Burning ROM works beautifully and of the 20 discs we burnt in various formats, we had no problems at all. Nero has perfected the burning element of their software and it cannot be faulted. Interestingly, Nero 7 also supports the upcoming HD-DVD and Blue Ray formats, though naturally we couldn't test them yet.
The old programs like Drive Speed, DVD-CD Speed, Cover Designer, BackItUp and ImageDrive remain the same and work much the same as pervious versions too. It is in the new additions to the suite that warrant the most scrutiny.
The biggest change is the inclusion of Nero Home, an all in one extension to your multimedia PC. Nero home is separated into categories, much like Windows Media centre and has very similar functionality. It is driven by Nero Scout, a program that indexes files from your PC to be used in Home. You can also use it to record TV and configure pre-set recording times. All the content is then available to play using a mouse to select the files or a remote control, if you have one set up. Nero home itself works really well and can be customized with backgrounds and various skins. However, the downfall of this program is that it relies heavily on Nero Scout which performs rather poorly. Scout doesn't tend to find all your files and has no individual calibration options. You can't tell it where to look for files. It just sets out on its own and looks through your PC. We had many times when Scout crashed the program, even when testing on more than one PC.
The audio editing software in the package includes Nero SoundTrax and WaveEditor. Both these programs are very easy to use and extremely basic sound editing components. They don't have the power of Soundforge or any of the other audio editors out there but are good for amateur use and perfect for people who don't know a lot about audio editing. For what they are, the work rather well and perform within their design limitations.
A very basic photo editor, PhotoSnap tackles most of the common image related tasks like resizing, simple colour corrections, brightness and hue in a very simple interface. It is very easy to use and works perfectly. It also has some interesting, if gimmick-like effects and has a little more depth than first appearances would lead you to believe. An example is that rather than just have simple resizing options, you can choose the type of process used when resizing whether it be the cloning of the nearest neighbouring pixels, Bilinear or various other resizing techniques. The intuitive interface will have even the most inept novice looking knowledgeable with simple click buttons enabling most effects.
When it comes to video, Nero 7 has Recode, Showtime 2 and Nero Vision working in unison to solve most video tasks. Recode is used to encode DVD films with Nero Digital MPEG-4 files or from one DVD to another. It is rather slow to use, but works quite well and the slow speed is to be expected so as to not sacrifice image quality.
Showtime 2 is Nero's software for viewing video and audio content. It is a very simple player and contains appropriate codecs for many video formats including a DVD decoder. It also integrates with Nero vision when viewing your video projects before committing to a DVD burn.
NeroVision is a single program for all video encoding whether it be to a DVD or CD. Through a series of wizard screens you can easily create a DVD of your favourite video content, transcoded into the appropriate format, complete with DVD menus. It is extremely basic and certainly not professional, in any way, but for most people, it will be perfect. Grabbing some video files from the net and making a DVD to watch in the lounge room is extremely useful and handled beautifully by Nero Vision. Again, you should be warned that the entire process is painstakingly slow, especially when transcoding video for the DVD, while setting up the DVD to burn is very speedy the actual burn process can take in excess of an hour for about 40 minutes of video. We did quite a few test burns, including a 2 hour film which took about 4 hours to burn.
For a novice, the best feature of the entire package is easily the smartstart wizard. While it is not new to Nero, the current version is comprehensive in the choices it gives you. If you don't have a DVD burner, it won't give you the option to burn a DVD but will give you the option to burn a VCD instead. It is this intuitive design and ease of use that gives Nero the deserved reputation for quality programs which happily extends to this version as well.
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