Find Out if NTI CD & DVD Maker 7 is Worth Your Time - Software Review
The NTI CD & DVD Maker package is an attractively priced entry into the field of CD and DVD creation tools. While not as full-featured as more expensive packages, it does the job quickly and easily. The user interface is clean, attractive, and easy to work with. For a person just starting out creating CDs and DVDs, this should be a package to closely examine. The more experienced multimedia person will probably want the power and features of a more costly package, however.
User Interface (4 out of 5)
The main user interface is organized around one central graphic. Clicking the part of that graphic that represents an area of functionality displays a list of menu items for sub-areas in that section. Clicking a menu item opens a window within the main window. Almost every function uses an interface that is laid out the same. A set of numbered graphics on the left listed the steps for that function and a split window of files on the user’s hard drive and a window for the disc was created. Files are moved via the familiar drag-and-drop method.
Help & Support (1 out of 5)
While the software comes with standard help, it did not display a scroll bar when a help page page was larger than the window. I’m not sure if this is a bug in the help or Windows Vista, however. Some pages in the Contents were blank or appeared to start in the middle of a sentence.Without scroll bars, it’s impossible to say if this is what it appears to be, although scrolling part of the way through a page allows you to scroll back up, so it would appear to be an incomplete page. This is a pretty serious lapse.
Data (3 out of 5)
Select the files you want and click a button to start burning–quick, easy and painless. There is a checkbox to allow you to specify that the disc is to be bootable, but that’s about it. You can choose between DVD-5 and DVD-9 as well.
Price to Value (4 out of 5)
As one of the lowest priced packages I’ve seen that still provides support for all the main areas of multimedia work, the price to value is excellent.
Installation & Setup (5 out of 5)
Installation was quick and painless, taking about five minutes. No errors occurred.
Product Features (3 out of 5)
The software offers all the usual features in packages of this type–data, video, photo and audio CDs, and DVDs can be created. Copies and backups of discs are also supported. The only different feature that I noticed is that it claims to support Blu-ray discs. However, I was unable to test this feature.
Performance (4 out of 5)
The software ran well on my system. My system specs were:
AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ dual-core 64-bit processor 3.0 GHz
2 GB DDR2 RAM
256 MB GeForce 8500GT
16x DVD+/-R/RW dual layer
500 GB SATA II (7200 RPM, 16 MB cache) hard drive
I experienced no crashes during my use of the software. The only problems were the aforementioned help bugs.
Video (3 out of 5)
The NTI DVD Fit application’s Open dialog box shows all files, even though you can’t select just any file. It should filter the list to only those file types that are usable.The Help menu on the NTI DVD Fit application did not initially display help. Either restarting the application or clicking the Help menu in another part of the software corrected this.The Style Preview function in the Cinematic Video application did not display a preview. Only five styles are available in the Cinematic Video application (the “More Styles…” selection takes you to a web page where you can buy more styles, ranging in price from $8 to $25). The Cinematic Video application also requires an audio file be added for background music. I don’t understand the reasoning behind this.
Photo (3 out of 5)
The software will prompt you for the expected sizes for images in normal and high resolution (if they are not one of those two sizes) and will resize the image for you automatically. You can select between NTSC and PAL formats via two radio buttons between the Windows Explorer and selected files sections.
The Photo Disc application allows only JPG files. The Cinematic Slideshow application allows only JPG and BMP file types. The Slideshow VCD/SVCD applications add GIF files to the Cinematic Slideshow file types.
Copy Disc (3 out of 5)
No surprises here–select the source and destination drives and click a button to begin the copy. I didn’t try this with a copy-protected DVD, but I’m fairly sure it wouldn’t allow you to copy one.
Backup Disc (3 out of 5)
The backup function allows you to schedule backups to run once, weekly, monthly, or daily. You can choose which days of the week if you select daily. You can also specify the start time. The only non-normal option is the ability to back up to a remote FTP server. You can also choose a maximum file size for the backup file and if the files selected for backup are greater than this size, the backup will span to another file.
The Backup -> Disk Image menu choice was disabled and holding the mouse over the item displayed a tooltip that said “Unable to locate: DriveBackup.” I’m not sure what this meant and since the help had no information on this feature, I was unable to figure out why it was disabled.
Audio (3 out of 5)
All the functionality you’d expect to find is here–you can create an audio CD from WAV, WMA, and MP3 files and create an MP3 or WMA disc from any supported format. Which formats are supported is not specified; since the dialog box to add files only shows all files, you can’t filter for a specific type of files(s). The help for this functionality appeared to be broken, but I did find in the first page of the help that it appears only CD tracks, WMA, WAV, and MP3 formats are supported. While this is probably sufficient for most people, other software that costs the same provides a greater number of supported formats.The wave editor that comes with the software is very basic. For example, I was unable to find a way to begin playing in the middle of a file without selecting a portion of it. You do get six effects that can be applied to the file–trim, normalize, fade, echo, filter, and amplify.I would more than likely never use the supplied wave editor. There are better editors available that are open source and free. It just feels out of place in this package.
Overall, the software does what it says it does: makes CDs and DVDs. It does it quickly and easily, but you’re not going to find many options or frills. For a package that labels itself “Platinum,” I would expect a bit more in the way of options and functionality.
The problems with the help, if not due to a bug in Windows Vista, I personally find almost unforgivable and would make me look for another solution. There are other similarly priced packages that provide much more functionality. Overall, I have to say it’s not the best value for the money.
Nero 7 Ultra Edition, Easy Media Creator