Nero Burning ROM 5.5, Easy CD Creator 5.0, Veritas MyCD Pro 2.0

Nero Burning ROM 5.5

Nero is often cited as the better of the two main CD creation packages on the market. Rather than being a mere bug fix, this incremental update contains a wide variety of added extras, making it even more worthy than its predecessor.

The main interface hasn't changed much - Nero is still as basic or as hands-on as you want it to be, with wizards to help you copy a CD or knock up a compilation of tunes or data. Closer inspection reveals a seemingly limitless selection of settings that can be tweaked to your heart's content.

Many of the new features are aimed at creative types looking for a complete suite of multimedia tools. For example, there's a useful Wave Editor, allowing tinkering with waveforms before you commit them to disc. For users with a more visual bent, there's a selection of handy utilities to create video CDs. Nero's integrated MPEG-1 encoder will help you compress home movies into a format that can run straight from CD-ROM and many DVD players.

Nero Burning ROM 5.5 has so many new features it feels like a major upgrade.

Easy CD Creator 5.0

Adaptec's software arm has decided to go solo under the name Roxio. This rebranding, combined with a complete make-over of its top-end CD creation package, might seem a little confusing at first. Thankfully, however, it's still the same reliable Easy CD Creator.

The main control panel has a brushed aluminium look, and divides the suite into media-specific sections that offer the right tools for the job. Like Nero's new offering, there are integrated applications for creating your own content before you even go anywhere near the laser.

ArcSoft's Video Impression is a straightforward and surprisingly well-resourced application for editing your home movies. If MP3 audio is your thing, then you'll find SoundStream right up your street - an MP3 jukebox player with the benefit of being able to record MP3s directly from an audio CD in one drive to a CD-R in the other. There are also exhaustive tools for creating photo and, of course, data CDs.

All the new features and changes to Roxio's package make CD Creator even easier and more enjoyable to use. In fact, it's a close-run thing between Nero and Easy CD Creator.

Veritas MyCD Pro 2.0

Like Easy CD Creator 5.0, MyCD Pro 2.0 allows you to compile and record music CDs or archive data to CD for long-term removable media storage.

The default interface offers a choice of copying a CD, working with data or working with music files. If you want things even simpler, an Explorer-type environment is available where you drag and drop files.

Support for the latest 12x devices for high-speed CD recording performance is included, as is support for both 650MB and 700MB CD media. You can even push the CD-R media to the limit by recording into the area of the CD that is normally not made available to writing programs.

MyCD Pro 2.0 lacks CD Creator's ability to recognise tracks and albums via the Internet, although title and artist text support (CD text) allows you to personalise your discs to some extent. Supported music formats include .mp3, .wav and .wma. The online help "is extensive, but the lack of a manual may put off some new users.

Veritas MyCD Pro 2.0 supports Windows 95/98/Me as well as Windows NT/2000. Most CDR/CDRW drives are supported; however, check the site at www.veritas.com before you buy.

Nero Burning ROM 5.5

Price: $149; Distributor: Communique; Phone: (02) 9622 5624URL: www.comm-unique.com.au.

Roxio Easy CD Creator 5.0

Price: under $150; Distributor: Siltek; Phone: (02) 9870 1000; URL: www.roxio.com.

Veritas MyCD Pro 2.0

Price: $149; Phone: 1800 222 587; URL: www.veritas.com

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