Much like Nero, the Creator suite is more than just a simple disc authoring system. You can create interactive DVD slide shows from picture collections using PhotoSuite and show the family your holiday snaps in a new way. While on the audio side you get an application that cleans up recordings from vinyl records (AudioCentral), ready for high-quality reproduction onto CD, to preserve the old classics.
AudioCentral allows capture of audio data from the input of your soundcard, ready for cleanup if it’s from a vinyl source, along with other filters for a wide range of effects and cuts between tracks. It also supports native burning of audio discs from Ogg and WMA disc formats, without conversion to any other intermediate format, supporting a slightly wider range of popular audio sources than Nero. I found it easy to apply the filters to tracks, without altering the existing copies. Non invasive editing is something other products have failed to do in the past.
PhotoSuite lets you edit and cleanup photo sources before creating a disc to store them on. While the speed of applying cleanup effects was impressive on the test system, the decision to make it as easy to use as possible means that working with multiple images quickly was slightly tedious at times and control over the filter effects wasn’t as good as it would have been with a more powerful, dedicated image editor.
A cover editor is also included, using the same DTP style of operation as its Nero counterpart. Again it’s very easy to use, should you want to make your created discs a bit individual.
As mentioned previously, Creator’s ability to stray further from its enclosed space of image formats isn’t as impressive as Nero’s. With both ISO image burning and UDF packet writing being present and correct in Creator since the early versions that shipped with Direct CD, we would be harsh in knocking marks off for that, given Creator’s target market. Creator 6 can also burn bootable discs and mixed mode discs, but Nero is certainly the more flexible of the pairing in this regard however.
Performance compared to Nero was fine, with both applications recording the same time in a straight burn of 4.2GB of data and a 3.5GB home movie, to write-once DVD-R media. Writing the same 3.5GB file via Drag-To-Disc, using packet writing and a freshly formatted DVD-RW blank, was some 35 seconds slower than Nero, but none too obvious, given the way packet writing software works. It’s designed to work in the background as a pseudo-hard drive, with the user being unaware data is being written or deleted. A performance disadvantage in this regard is less of an issue than a performance disadvantage in the straight burning tests.
I alluded to Creator 5 being a transitional product for Roxio, with 5 facing stiff competition from Nero in the disc authoring market. It seems that with Nero 6.0 moving to Creator-style ease of use and with Creator 6 building on previous strengths and polishing Creator 5 to a nice sparkle, both products have converged. To separate the pair means looking at feature set and cost. There’s not a lot to separate Creator from Nero in the price stakes, although Creator is slightly cheaper.
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With price accounted for, the only compelling reasons to buy Creator 6 are the DVD Video menu editor and the vinyl audio cleanup tools. You’ll know instantly if they are of interest to you, otherwise I feel that Nero makes a better case for a general purchase, with support for more image formats, faster packet writing and a more attractive price.
A slightly better package for beginners compared to Nero, and it’s very marginally cheaper. If you’re looking for a fully featured suite for basic disc creation tasks that won’t confuse the novice, Easy CD/DVD Creator should be right up your street.