Review Price free/subscription
As before, the core of the package - and the bits you'll be using most often - are the media management and CD/DVD burning functions. Note that Creator 2009 can also support Blu-ray, but Roxio is rather stingily charging a £15 upgrade fee for a pack that enables Blu-ray record and playback. Still, if you want to burn audio CDs or data or video DVDs then Roxio's expertise in the area makes for a pretty flawless experience. As the owner of a rather temperamental USB DVD burner I have more than my share of shiny coasters laying around where free or built-in solutions have botched the job halfway through. Creator 2009 has yet to spit out a single duff disc.
For those of us engaged in creating a working media archive, Creator 2009 is a bit of a godsend thanks to strong format support and some efficient file conversion systems. Being able to rip CDs straight to FLAC then convert those files to MP3, WMA or OGG VORBIS for mobile use from a single package is a boon, and it's simple to setup large batch conversions or even just set the tracks to transfer direct to your MP3 player of choice. The Audio Convertor component will handle the conversion for you, and you can choose the format and settings as it does so.
On top of this, we get drag-and-drop conversion utilities where you can transfer single files or whole folders simply by dragging them over to a handy applet on the corner of your desktop and (you guessed it) dropping them there. It's a great way of getting a big batch done while you're busy doing something more interesting, and on a dual or quad-core system with 2GB or more of memory, the resource hit isn't enough to stop you Web browsing or word processing (in fact, I have a few folders going through as I write this).
Creator 2009 adds two new facilities for music fans, and while neither is exactly flawless, they're still worth experimenting with. First, an auto playlist generator - which works a little like Apple's much-hyped Genius or the EmoDio software bundled with some Samsung PMPs - can produce custom playlists for your every mood. Just pick a track or three and the applet scurries away through your collection looking for songs of a similar temp and mood. In all honesty, in two out of three times I tried it the results are odd and even plain useless, but the third time was a charm, mainly because I fed it a selection of mid-tempo rock and there's probably a fair amount of that lurking on my hard drive (more than I'd care to admit, in fact).
Secondly, it's now possible to create party playlists and let the package sync the beats between tracks for a proper, club-style flow of music. Again, the results are better if you give it a lot of the same stuff (e.g. straight dance tracks) than a mix (e.g. a selection of cheesy eighties hits), but it's not a bad idea, and one that - with a bit of work - could be a winner.