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A simple, slightly quirky, but very inexpensive way to author DVDs--that's WinX DVD author in a nutshell. The best news is that WinX DVD Author ($20, free demo) works quite well--with the file types (mpeg, AVI, MP4k) that it supports. In my tests, it showed a distinct tendency to crash instead of warn with file types it didn't support. Still, I was able create several DVDs with no problems and the program even did a nice job of down-converting the 1080 HD wmv files I fed it to 720. Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be a way to save a project (VOBs, aka Video Objects, i.e. DVD video files are saved and can be reused) or to create and image--you must burn to DVD.
The menu editor is also quite facile. It allows you to move elements anywhere you wish, define the frame in the video that serves as the image for the clip buttons (there are no motion menus that I could find) as well as freely add a jpeg file as background.
However, as I said up front, there are tiny what I shall kindly refer to as "quirks" in abundance. Quirks such as being able to set start and end points on video clips you import, but not being able to play them. Quirks such a no undo function. The main program window can't be shrunk or expanded. The only functional part of some sliders is the tab--you can't click above or below to move to a spot far up or down a list. You must also be able to recognize that the company means Compiler when the interface says Complier and that an up arrow means add.
Peccadilloes aside, DVD authoring apps don't come much less expensive than this one, so take WinX DVD Author for a spin. It will do the job, if in slightly ungainly fashion. The trial version is limited to 5 minutes of video, but the full version worked fine with full-length movies in my tests.
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