GEAR Pro Professional 7.03 is as basic a disc-burning package as new users would want, but too basic for advanced users.
IntroductionGEAR PRO Professional 7.03 offers little more than its former version (see my earlier review at //www.brighthub.com/review/GEAR-Software/Mike-Garcen/article/292.html), as it continues to lack the most vital component its competitors include: the ability to copy, or rip, copy-protected DVDs. In addition to that now-common feature request, GEAR offers no high-definition format besides WMV-HD. While the battle between HD-DVD and Blu-ray appears over, rest assured, the $99.95 you'd spend on GEAR will not assist you in creating discs in either format.
Price to ValueRating
So what does $99.95 give you that the competition wouldn't, for the same price or less? To be fair, not very much. The target audience of GEAR PRO Professional 7.03 does not appear to be your average user. There are certain scripting abilities that make this software much more suited to users who are interested in duplicating original creations, rather than managing their purchased disks.
Supported formats have some flexibility with the inclusion of WMV-HD and dual-layer DVD9 formats, but GEAR still lacks support for HD-DVD or Blu-ray, both of which have gradually gained in popularity (though it appears Blu-ray won that contest).
The continuing lack of ability of the application to accommodate copy-protected disks would seem to be GEAR's undoing, as users who want to back up protected disks will need third-party software to rip the disk, and then GEAR to burn it. Not a huge deal, but the asking price of $99.95 is more than most consumers will want to spend.
Installation & SetupRating
The setup was as easy as could be expected. There's little configuration necessary for either the install or the actual setup of the application. [See Image 1]
Besides the lack of support for copy-protected disks, there's nothing taking points away from GEAR PRO more than its user interface. [See Image 2] One can admire a company that's trying to stay bleeding-edge so much that they can't invest much in design, but GEAR's rather basic feature set makes its lack of a more usable design even more unacceptable. The Explorer-like interface is reminiscent of the Windows 98 days--traditional and easy to follow, but not attractive to new users who just spent $99.95.
Now that we know GEAR PRO's shortcomings, what features do they feel justify the hefty pricetag of Professional 7.03? The ability to burn both single and multilayer disks is nice, but again, to support the costly multilayer disks, why not include support for the costly HD-DVD or Blu-ray disks?
Additionally, the basic abilities to create pre-configured DVDs or CDs are as minimal as I've seen in a commercial application. What can be said for GEAR is that their features are professional--the more I analyze it, the more I get the feeling that this application is geared more towards companies and professionals than average users. Disk verification and the ability to easily burn multiple copies are useful features for people needing to make a lot of copies, but not very useful for average users. The scripting capabilities will allow users to automate the process as much as possible without having to buy an even more expensive disk duplicator.
Suggested FeaturesI've come to the conclusion that supporting copy-protected disks is outside of GEAR's comfort zone, but I would implore them to invest in a designer. The user interface is stuck in 1990. It screams "designed by a programmer" and GEAR didn't think of ways to make it stand out in a crowd. I wouldn't recommend GEAR to new users, but even advanced users may be disappointed by its shortcomings. GEAR needs to decide its target audience for this application, and change it accordingly. If it's for basic users, then simplify the interface. If it's for advanced users, then give them full control and extra features. It seems GEAR is stuck in the middle, and in a business as competitive as media duplication, I can't see GEAR making the kinds of strides needed to get ahead of the pack.
ConclusionLittle has changed since my last review of GEAR PRO Professional--different version, same shortcomings. However, if you're looking for simple DVD and CD burning software that can copy multiple disks at a time, then GEAR makes that scripting process easy.
If you're looking to make customized disks or copy-protected movies for backup, it's best to look elsewhere. Companies that need to make multiple disks might appreciate GEAR's scripting abilities, but might want to lean towards duplicators for a more seamless process. Overall, $99.95 seems a lot to charge for a program that provides basic CD and DVD burning, with little file support when compared to the competition.
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