Iomega HotBurn (beta) and SmartDisk MVP

New CD-burning programs from Iomega and SmartDisk both try hard to be consumer friendly. The difference is that Iomega targets "general-purpose users, while SmartDisk aims squarely at people who want to create CDs filled with digital audio, video and images.

Iomega's $US30 HotBurn sticks to the basics, with three burning options (music CD, data CD, copy CD) plus an integrated CD-label designer to handle liner notes, covers and labels. Step-by-step screens walk you through each task. You can easily add files to a project, thanks to a direct link to Windows Explorer - just drag-and-drop files to HotBurn. While HotBurn streamlines the process for novices, experienced users will quickly become frustrated by its limited options. I looked at a beta copy; the software is available only via download from the company's Web site.

Meanwhile, SmartDisk's innovative package, SmartDisk MVP, is a terrific CD-burning program that nicely complements the software that comes standard with CD-RW drives. You can use SmartDisk MVP to create a music or video CD (or to mix files together to generate a video CD with picture slide shows and music). Plus, you can use it to write data to CD-R. Thumbnails are equipped with a viewer/player that permits you to preview your selection.

The $US40 software is fairly resource hungry, however. The shipping version sometimes caused my 1GHz Athlon-based PC to churn prior to "creating a CD. SmartDisk attributes this to the intensive processing required for converting files before burning a disc. Otherwise, SmartDisk MVP is excellent for turning your CD-RW drive into a more creative and productive tool.

Iomega HotBurn (beta).

Its stripped-down CD-burning"interface makes this software a viable option for beginners.

Price: $US30.

Phone: (02) 8223 9140.

URL: www.iomega.com.

SmartDisk MVP.

Really reworks the way files are organised and "burned to video, audio, data, and slide-show CDs.

Price: Approx. $130.

Distributor: Fosh Australia.

Phone: (03) 9532 9322.

URL: www.fosh.com.au; www.smartdiskmvp.com.

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