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This last feature might seem of little use when you bear in mind that - without the Blu-ray plug-in - there's no way to author proper HD discs. However, Creator 2009 includes a handy little feature that allows you to burn up to 60 minutes of HD footage onto a DVD that can then be read on a PS3 or Blu-ray player. Otherwise, DVD authoring features are what you'd expect from a consumer-level package these days; simple and slightly gruesome family and business templates in a semi-automated program, and a more comprehensive authoring app that gives you more freedom over the placement and styling of titles, clips and menu items. Again, if you want professional looking results you're better off with a dedicated video app, but if you just want something to share with family or friends you'll be fine.
I'm not so sure that the same is true on the photographic side of things. As before, Creator 2009 includes a strong selection of features, including a simple image enhancement tool for dealing with multiple images, a slideshow creator and an effective applet for creating panoramas from multiple shots. However, the Photosuite photo-editing app now feels rather basic and a little dated even in comparison to free alternatives like Paint.Net, while its auto-adjustment options had a nasty tendency to boost contrast and saturation at the expense of natural colour. On the plus side, it offers a decent effects gallery and a nice hand-holding approach for those who just want to make basic enhancements to their digital snaps, but anyone serious about digital photography could find a better solution elsewhere.
Still, throw in a perfectly usable backup program (though Vista has this pretty well covered these days) and, whatever deficiencies you'll find in the individual components, you certainly can't fault Creator 2009 for value. Sure, you can do 90 per cent of what it does with a combination of freeware applications and the tools built into Windows, but these applications won't be so easy to use for the average user, or as well integrated with each other. Frankly, there are times when I wonder whether Roxio would be better to trim away some of the more gimmicky features and concentrate on making the core features even stronger and more usable.
To be honest, I'd also personally ignore the video editing and photographic apps in favour of something more advanced. However, even given that I'd still want Creator 2009 for its confident and efficient handling and conversion of my digital media, and its rock-solid DVD burning capabilities. Plus, there are plenty of people out there who just want a simple way of turning photos into slideshows and camcorder footage into watchable video, and they probably won't be so fussy. The most conclusive thing that I can say is this: in the week or so I've been using it Creator 2009 has already saved me time, effort and a reasonable amount of hassle. That's enough to earn my recommendation.
Not all the components are equally good, and more expert users may want to look at more advanced or free alternatives. However, given the amount of media handling and creative power on offer, Creator 2009 is a bit of a bargain.
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