Nero Multimedia Suite
In Multimedia Suite 10, Nero finally addresses what its perennially powerful burning suite has lacked: easy creativity. The new MediaHub component--a combination media organizer, media player, photo editor and slideshow creator--offers a friendly interface. The Nero Vision video editor and authoring software gets some major changes, too; sadly, its interface still has one foot in the past.
While Nero Multimedia Suite 10 still comprises a number of individual components, unbundled versions of major components are now available. MediaHub and Vision are sold separately as Nero Vision xTra for $60; Nero Burning ROM for $50; and the capable imaging/file backup/synching BackItUp & Burn for $40. You're better off with the suite if you want two or more of these core functions.
MediaHub's interface is far friendlier than that offered by most of Multimedia Suite 10's components. Its extensive file support is also impressive. Not only does it handle common media and file types such as audio CD, DVD, JPEG, MPEG, bitmaps, MP3, and wave, it also recognizes more esoteric types such as compressed TIFF, FLAC, APE, and non-standard wave file resolutions such as 24-bit/88kHz. It also understands DirectShow filters (codecs) such as QuickTime, MP4, HD WMV, .FLV (Flash), and .MKV.
MediaHub also offers an inline photo editor similar to Google's Picasa; the photo editor allows quick tweaking, correction, and even adding special effects to photos. Nero stumbles, however, by not offering an inline editor for music and video (an unfortunate omission, since the suite includes the Nero WaveEditor and Nero Vision video editor). If Nero can take MediaHub that extra step, though--bringing all of Nero's diverse media editing functionality under MediaHub's pleasing interface--the company will be on to something that should appeal to users at all levels, since no organizer/player on the market that edits all three major types of media.
The Nero Vision 10 timeline editor is vastly improved with a new look, more tracks, and easier tools. There are also major changes under the hood such as Smart Encoding (not re-encoding material that already matches the output format) and support for NVidia's CUDA hardware AVC/.264 acceleration. Also, you may now produce Blu-ray content without purchasing an additional plugin, as well as apply themes to an entire movie. Themes are comprised of cohesively styled FX, transitions, and titles. Unfortunately, the authoring and project dialog still suffer the old amateurish interface.
Nero Burning ROM, Nero's long-standing component for burning virtually any type of disc, now spans discs for data jobs. The new DiscSpan job even lets you mix disc types (CD, DVD, BD-R); the last disc will contain an app so you don't need to install Nero in order to restore the archive.
Other individual components also remain largely the same: The StartSmart launch center which also handles basic burning tasks, Nero SmartTrax for recording audio, Recode for transcoding video to different formats, and Cover Designer for making CD sleeves and labels. Utilities for gathering media and drive info, and recovering data from all sorts of media are still there as well. BackItUp & Burn performs both imaging and file-based backup and has a new, friendlier first-run wizard.
Confused look or no, the highly capable and versatile Nero Multimedia Suite 10 is still a worthy contender to Roxio Creator 2010 and Cyberlink's Media Suite. It's leaner and faster than either, though Roxio offers better prefab content and Cyberlink's unified look gives it a nicer overall feel.
Note: This link takes you to the vendor's site, where you must register to download the latest version of the software.
--Jon L. Jacobi