Hamster Free Burning Studio
At a Glance
I tend to scrutinize free software just a hair more than stuff that's not. And when the logo is something as cute and cuddly as Hamster Soft's, I put that little furball under a microscope. Happily, the company's Burning Studio proved not only competent, but completely innocuous as far as I could tell.
Hamster Free Burning Studio couldn't be easier to install, though you should choose the custom install if you want to avoid installing the Bing toolbar. The license tells you that some non-personal information is gathered and transmitted during install, and only during install. If that bothers you, look elsewhere. At least they tell you about it. Many companies do not. The interface looks nice (you can easily change the default gray to another color), is logically laid out, and places all pertinent functions within easy reach.
That said, I found it rather odd that the Hamster Free Burning Studio jumped back and forth between a launch application, a full-sized window, and a mini-sized disc-shaped window. Launching the program doesn't always bring up that same window either. There are other interface oddities--all minor and survivable--but the GUI design team should be thinking "less is more" in the future.
In my limited hands-on, the Hamster Free Burning Studio happily copied and burned both data CDs and DVDs. There's currently no support for ripping audio, or burning audio or movie discs. The program also supports writing and burning .ISO files. Kudos to the company for not creating yet another useless proprietary type of image file.
By default, Hamster Free Burning Studio writes in sessions. You'll need to explicitly select "close" to bar further writing. I wish this setting were saved when you close the program, but it is not. You'll find icons for Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube on most of the Windows; these go to the company's feeds, where you'll find some useful tutorials and advice if you need it.
Though it's limited to data discs, Hamster Free Burning Studio works well. It's definitely prettier and a tad easier to use than InfraRecorder, another competent freebie burning program.
Note: This link takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software.
--Jon L. Jacobi