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IntroductionWith the release of Nero 7 Ultra Edition, Nero has packed a ton of functionality into a nicely priced package. Here's what you get for your $80:
* Nero Mobile: Nero Mobile helps you take your multimedia files with you on your phone, portable media player, or PDA.
* Nero Sipps: A voice-over IP (VoIP) solution, Nero Sipps allows you to make phone calls over the Internet. Of course, the person you're calling will have to be running the software as well.
* Nero Home: Basically a software version of Tivo, Nero Home allows you to record, watch, pause, and rewind live TV on your PC.
* Nero Scout: Nero Scout is a file indexing and search package that enables you to quickly and easily find files you're looking for, organizing them by file type and allowing you to search on either your hard drive or the Internet.
* Nero StartSmart 3: StartSmart is Nero's application launcher. It organizes the various pieces of software in the bundle by type of functionality and provides quick access to every bit of functionality in the package.
* Nero Burning ROM 7: This is Nero's full featured, no-holds barred CD & DVD burning software. It offers all the power you'll need but without the hand-holding offered by the Express package. If you're a multimedia newbie you'll probably want to avoid this until you're comfortable with the ins and outs of working with multimedia. That said, there are some features Express doesn't feature that you'll have to jump into this to do.
* Nero Express 7: Nero's quick and easy burning software, Express is still packaged with functionality in an easy-to-user interface.
* Nero Wave Editor 3: Wave Editor is a good audio editing and recording tool that supports audio creation up to 7.1 surround sound. It's not something an audio engineer will use, but for the home enthusiast it's got pretty much everything you'll need.
* Nero SoundTrax 2: SoundTrax is a virtual set of turntables and mixing software that let's you become a virtual DJ. You can easily switch between SoundTrax and Wave Editor and vice versa.
* Nero SoundBox: SoundBox let's you incorporate beats, sound sequences, and melodies into SoundTrax projects. It also features text to speech functionality and helps you to generate real world surround sound atmospheres such as stadium and nature effects.
* Nero Vision 4: Nero Vision is a video capture, editor, and burner all in one. It offers a good many features for producing attractive, quality videos.
* Nero Recode 2: Recode helps you easily convert digital media from one type to another with what is claimed to be the world's fastest MPEG encoder.
* Nero ShowTime 3: ShowTime is a fairly straightforward DVD and multimedia player. If Windows Media Player or DivX player can't play it, chances are ShowTime can and with excellent quality video and sound output to boot.
* Nero MediaHome: MediaHome is a Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) streaming solution that lets you share media files on a Local Area Network (LAN) using the Nero MediaHome Server.
* Nero PhotoSnap: PhotoSnap is the photo editing piece of the bundle. It's no PhotoShop, but for most hobbyist users it will probably be sufficient. It offers a fairly standard bundle of effects.
* Nero PhotoShow Express: A stripped down version of the Deluxe package, it's a basic photo manager and sharing package.
* Nero Cover Designer 2: Cover Designer is a nice CD & DVD label creator. It has some nice templates to help you get the job done quickly and easily but the limited selection means you'll quickly be either reusing the same ones or just creating basic, non-glitzy labels.
* Nero ToolKit: ToolKit gives you your benchmarking and hardware information capabilities. You probably won't venture into this territory very often, but it's a nice package to have available.
* Nero BackItUp 2: A drive backup package that offers some wizards and automated backup capability.
* InCD 5: This is a file drag-and-drop re-writeable media writer that gives you HD and Blu-ray support, assuming you have the hardware to use it.
* Nero ImageDrive 3: This is a fairly standard virtual drive package that lets you mount up to two images simultaneously and treat them as regular drives. It integrates into Windows Explorer and supports its own nrg and the more standard iso format.
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Price to ValueRating What's Hot:
Nero 7 Ultra Edition is fantastic. I couldn't think of something that wasn't included that I would ever need.
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Installation & SetupRating What's Hot:
Installation of Nero 7 Ultra Edition went without a hitch, clocking in around ten minutes. The installation was done using a downloadable version. Installation time may vary depending on your hardware and whether or not you decide to use the shipped version or the downloadable version. If you don't have broadband, the downloadable version probably won't be an option.
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User InterfaceRating What's Hot:
Not much has changed from previous versions of Nero software. The SmartStart main screen is divided up into a couple of menus on the left (Applications, Tools, and Manuals) and by type of functionality on the right (Favorites, Data, Audio, Photo and Video, Backup, and Extras).
It would be nice to have the option to display just the text for the type of functionality and get rid of the scrollbars. The graphics are unnecessary and just get in the way, in my opinion.
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Product FeaturesRating What's Hot:
For most of your data burning you'll probably use Nero Express, which is a quick, capable product. Drag your files into the window, give the disc a name and off you go. You can burn multiple copies of the data and specify whether or not the disc is a multisession disc. It couldn't be much easier.
If you have disc image you can simply open it up in Nero Burning ROM and start burning. Again, easy and quick.
For your video burning, Nero Vision is a powerful tool that gives you a lot of options and flexibility. Need to burn something quickly? From start to finish, getting a disc burned will probably take around two minutes. If you want to explore possibilities like different backgrounds and buttons you could spend a couple more minutes. If you're an amateur director or video editor and you're putting together a movie from clips or a photo slideshow, you'll be able to do so easily. There's a lot of options for scene transitions (some might say too many, but I say better too many than not enough). The Timeline view allows you to insert text, effects, and audio at any point in your movie. You get about 30 different text effects and almost 60 filters. You take take your movie and export it to a video file or create a DVD or CD. All the options you'd expect are here so you can tweak to your heart's content.
Nero BackItUp is a good tool for most people, allowing you to schedule times and dates for backing up drives or files and restoring an existing backup. Wizards lead you through each process.
After you've created your CD or DVD, you might want to create a cover for the jewel case or a label for the disc. The included CoverDesigner app will get the job done nicely. You get about a dozen different templates for a dozen different types of jobs from Lightscribe to Mini-CD to full custom jobs. Some of the templates are fairly plain, just position text in different places and some are pretty colorful. You'll probably be able to find something you like.
You may or may not be able to use the Nero Home package to view and record live TV. I had some problems with the software. I started up the software and ran through the configuration. Options that looked like I was supposed to have multiple choices, such as the background and font size, didn't display more than one choice. When I got to the window to select the video source, the only option I had was "Antenna," which was a problem since I use Comcast Cable. When the setup started scanning channels it found some, but not all of them. I never did get audio when I viewed the channels it did find however.
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PerformanceRating What's Hot:
Nero 7 Ultra Edition ran well on my system. My system specs were:
AMD Athlon™64 X2 6000+ dual core 64-bit processor 3.0GHz
2 GB DDR2 RAM
256 MB GeForce 8500GT
16x DVD+/-R/RW dual layer
500 GB SATA II (7200rpm, 16MB cache) hard drive
I experienced no crashes during my use of Nero 7 Ultra Edition. Burning was quick and without incident.
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Help & SupportRating What's Hot:
The Nero website has a lot of options to assist you with any problems you might encounter.
The Help files are not included with the download and have to be obtained from the Nero website. The one Help file I downloaded for Nero Home, however, displayed a "cannot display the webpage" error for the first dozens items in the Contents tab. This problem occurred on two separate PCs. This is totally unacceptable in my opinion. The PDF version of the manual worked, but didn't provide an answer to the problems I experienced with Nero Home with regard to not being able to select options and the sound not working.
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Suggested FeaturesA fix for the problems with Nero Home would be nice.
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ConclusionIf you're serious about your multimedia, Nero 7 Ultra Edition is the package you'll want to take a long look at. The functionality included in this package is top notch, the software is easy to use and attractive, and it's nicely priced for what you get. The problem I experienced with Nero Home may not affect your decision, depending on whether or not this is a key feature you're looking for.
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Related ProductsRoxio Easy Media Creator, NTI CD & DVD Maker