Sonic MyDVD 3.1, DVD Workshop Authorware

If you purchase a DVD recorder these days, the movie-authoring application bundled with it is likely to be Sonic MyDVD. Sonic Solutions has been making DVD software since the inception of the technology. If you prefer, you can purchase Sonic MyDVD 3.1 separately for $US79. I found that it provides all the tools a casual user needs for capturing video, trimming the captured files, and burning DVDs. It's far from perfect, however.

Sonic MyDVD 3.1's main strengths are its ease of use and its simplicity: it employs a wizard to step you through the DVD creation process. Unlike most of its competitors, the program allows you to drag and drop media files using Windows Explorer - the easiest way to import large collections of video clips.

Its Direct-to-Disc feature speeds video transfers to your hard drive by skipping the authoring process: your video is captured on your hard drive, but no interim image file is created, and you don't have to intervene after you start it running. Sonic MyDVD 3.1 also utilises the OpenDVD standard.

This program's major weakness is its lack of advanced video and DVD menu editing. Sonic MyDVD 3.1 allows only simple trimming, letting you set start and end points. It also lacks scene detection to set chapters within video clips automatically, and it offers no video transitions or special effects. The only editable element of the auto-generated DVD menus is the text in button labels.

If you want greater control over the look and feel of your DVD menus, check out DVD Workshop from Ulead. For a program that lacks advanced video-editing functions, it's somewhat pricey, but I liked the software's professional finishing touches, such as motion buttons (menu buttons that display a looping excerpt of the video they point to) and chapter creation. It also has scene detection for automatically generating chapter points with raw digital video files.

DVD Workshop's iconic interface occasionally sends you running for the manual, and instead of a Windows menu you get Start, Capture, Edit, Menu (DVD) and Finish buttons. You can't drag and drop files from Windows Explorer. In addition, DVD Workshop's window occupies the whole screen and can't be resized.

The upshot? Don't rush to replace Sonic MyDVD 3.1 if you're a casual user and it's already installed on your hardware. Looking for software with more options? Try Ulead's DVD Workshop for more control over the final look of your DVD.


Sonic MyDVD 3.1

Cool if it comes with your PC, but check out the competition if you're shopping.

Price: $US79.


DVD Workshop

Experienced users may appreciate this pricey package's advanced features.

Price: $685.

Distributor: Pineapplehead.

Phone: 1800 657 601.


Distributor: Connexus.

Phone: (02) 9975 2799.


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