New data recovery tool. New 3D animated menus for disc projects. Expanded HD authoring and playback support. Cons Sometimes hard to find the right component. Inadequate help. Bottom Line It doesn't have the sweeping integration of its modules some fans were hoping for, but the new component programs and interface tweaks add value to this venerable jack-of-all-trades media application. Techies love the specialized components, but are put off by the lack of integration.
The grumblings must have touched a nerve. Nero 8 features a redesigned SmartStart portal that pulls key functions into the initial interface. It also has some nifty new add-ons, including a data-recovery tool, improved 2D and 3D menu templates for disc authoring, and expanded support for Blu-ray and HD DVD.
Taken together, the various components provide just about all the disc-burning, media-conversion, and media-editing capabilities you're likely to need. Previous versions relied on the front-end SmartStart interface to steer users to the appropriate component program. There were problems with it: The redesigned SmartStart alleviates some of the confusion by incorporating common functions.
You can now rip audio files, copy discs, and burn audio and data discs without having to leave the navigation aid. On the downside, these are simplified modules with few available options. They're fine as long as you don't need to go beyond a narrow range of settings.
Otherwise, you're better off with the full-featured components. Nero 8's chief competitor, Roxio's Easy Media Creator 10 Suite EMC 10 , integrates more of its common functions into the initial interface, though its up-front modules don't usually have as many settings for you to play with.
SmartStart now organizes its component listings more by function than media type, which should help reduce the false routings. Unfortunately, the toolkit utilities, such as Nero InfoTool and Nero DriveSpeed, are no longer accessible from this interface. The reasoning may be that technically proficient users should be able to find them using the Windows applications menus. Through a bare-bones utility-like interface, you select the drive with the damaged disc, choose the files you want to retrieve, and select the directory to which you want to save them.
With multisession discs formatted using a packet-writing UDF file system, you may also be able to recover older versions of the deleted data. I found the 3D menus especially impressive. One superimposes your video files onto small 3D-rendered TV monitors that swing into place when you first play the disc. Another places video thumbnails onto toy trucks that quickly move into formation, accompanied by a sweeping camera pan and blowing auto horns.
You can quickly preview how the 3D menus would interact with your video files by using Nero Vision's simulated remote control which resembles the remote that ships with standalone DVD players. Even in tests on a single-core system, the 3D-rendered previews appeared instantly and played at their full frame rates. In some places, there's no back button, only a next button that gives no clear indication of why you can't undo the previous action.
By contrast, the EMC 10 CineMagic component, although less feature-filled, uses a step-by-step structure that lets you track easily where you are in the process. Still, once you learn Nero Vision, you'll find that it has some terrific features.
With the automatic chapter-creation capability, which I especially like, you can set the sensitivity and minimum chapter length so your video opus doesn't end up with too few or too many chapters.
The video editor in Nero Vision is fairly basic. You're limited to just one video and two audio tracks, for example. You do have two different views of your video: The storyboard was the better choice when I had video clips with fades or other transitions in between, whereas the timeline was better when I wanted to add linear elements such as text or narration. You can quickly switch between the two views.
Enter your log-in and password and you can easily import or export video files from within Nero Vision. Sending video files to your cell phone or portable media player won't be as simple.
What About HD? Though Blu-ray and HD DVD playback isn't new to Nero it was introduced as an upgrade to version 7 , the company has broadened its support. Nero 8 can also burn Blu-ray data discs. The process is essentially the same as authoring a DVD. It took me only a minute to load two p movie trailers into Nero Vision on my 2. On my 3. Even with the redesigned SmartStart and tweaks to most of the components, Nero 8 can be frustrating.
I wanted to preview the new 3D menus in Nero Vision but had a difficult time finding them it turns out they appear only after you've loaded a video file. The help files integrated into all the component programs assist up to a point, but they aren't nearly comprehensive enough to cover the features in a meaningful way. Though the performance will be heavily dependent on the speed of your system, I found Nero 8 to be reasonably fast for standard tasks. On a six-month-old quad-core 2.
On a three-year-old single-core 3. DVD burning showed a similar divergence. To burn a 4. Users looking for a media-savvy software bundle that's easy to use will be better off with Roxio Easy Media Creator Unless you work extensively with digital media, Nero 8 should be able to handle most of your PC media needs.
In the enterprise space, we've seen - as an example, we've seen iPhones sort of being a catalyst. And the iPad moves after the iPhone. And in several accounts, we've seen the Mac follow that. And so there are clear examples where one product has pulled the other. And at a macro level, how much it's happening, it's very difficult to put our fingers on, but many customers, consumers, enterprise, education, they're all pointing that out.