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I really enjoyed using this product. It was a simple process to create a DVD of various photo albums, but it produces more than a simple slideshow. You can also edit your photos, add text, add music, and choose from a large selection of transitions and animations. You can output to different file formats: MPEG-I, MPEG-II, MP4, WMV, and AVI. These can then be transferred to a Pocket PC device, and an MP4 file can be added to your iTunes library and then synced to an iPod or iPhone.
There are basically four stages in the process; you select your photos, create a menu, watch the preview, and then burn a DVD or create a file. Screenshots 1 through 4 illustrate these stages, respectively.
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Price to ValueRating
I think the price is about right for what the product can do--which is a lot more than simply creating slideshows.
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Installation & SetupRating
In addition to purchasing the software on CD, you can download the application from Wondershare’s website. It installed in about three minutes, without any complaints on my Vista 64-bit machine.
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Wondershare DVD Slideshow Builder creates a slideshow very easily. It is effortless to add music to the slides and add a different track to the menu. The menu has a selection of themes; plus, you can download extra designs--this is well worth doing as the software comes with a limited selection. A large selection of animation and transitions lets you give a very professional look to your slideshow. It is very straightforward to change the transitions as well as change the time that each slide is displayed. There is a thumbnail view of the slides that allows rearranging of the slides simply by dragging them into a new position. This works really well. You can also rotate individual slides from this view, making it easy to pick out which slides need rotating.
In about a half hour, I was able to install the product , read through some of the help, select a folder of photos, add music to the slideshow and a different music track for the menu, and then burn this all to a DVD. I also was able to add a blank slide at the beginning of show and add text, which I could then make appear line by line.
As well as creating a standard DVD, you can also create an HD DVD, VCD, or SVCD Video. You can also create a file instead of a DVD. There is a selection of formats–MPEG-I, MPEG-II, WMV, AVI, and 3GP.
Each format has a number of options that determine the quality of the output and the size of the resulting file. I created all the formats, and they all worked well. The MPEG format played on both my Vista laptop and my MacBook Pro. I transferred an AVI file and a MPEG-I file to my Pocket PC and they played well.
I also produced an MP4 format file, added it to my iTunes library on an XP laptop (iTunes is not compatible with Vista 64-bit) and then synced it over to my iPhone. The slideshow looked good on the iPhone.
I was disappointed in the quality of the pictures throughout the different formats–from DVD to an AVI file. They were nowhere near the quality of the original photo. This was true whether the DVD played on my large TV or my laptop, and the same with the different file formats on my PC or my Pocket PC with VGA screen. The MP4 format on the iPhone seemed to be the best quality.
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The interface is very simple and intuitive. I found my way around it very quickly. All the screens have simple layouts and it is easy to figure out what does what and where. I had close to zero frustration with this product.
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Help & SupportRating
There is extensive on-screen help, to guide you through each section. I did have problems when I went back into an existing project–the menu design kept going back to the default. I couldn’t find a way of changing my selection away from this. I went to Wondershare’s website, found their forums, and looked to see if someone had posted this problem. The forums were full of spam, and just about only spam–so not only did I not find anything useful, but this forum was obviously not monitored by Wondershare.
I emailed Wondershare support on a Sunday afternoon, and received a reply back from them within a few hours. I then emailed them back to clarify, and received a second email again within a few hours–they seemed very willing to help and were amazingly responsive. Unfortunately, they did not solve my problem. This problem was not consistent, so maybe it was some sort of user error. I recreated the whole project and it then worked fine.
Another day passed, and I received a further very helpful answer back from Wondershare’s support. This time they nailed it. If on the Burn screen, the output is not set for DVD output, but instead a file output such as an MPEG file, then the DVD menu will not be saved and will not be displayed on the Preview screen. I was very impressed with their thoroughness, attention to my problem, and promptness in their replies.
The on-screen help is good, but you have to view each section on its own, and you cannot page through it in its entirety.
The online forum is full of almost nothing but spam and I presumed from this that it is not monitored by Wondershare.
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Suggested FeaturesI would like to see the option to produce better quality photos, even if it means larger-sized output files.
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ConclusionI enjoyed using this product. It was simple to use, but had enough features to make it fun to discover them. It produced a truly professional result. I love the fact that you have such a good choice of outputs. This means that the resulting slideshow can be played on almost any device. It is unfortunate that the quality of the output could not be improved, as this would then be a five-star product in my book.