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Nero 12 Platinum: Affordable, highly capable multimedia creation and disc burning

Newly released Nero 12 Platinum offers some minor usability improvements over version 11 of the venerable multimedia production and optical burning suite, but for the most part it's a technology upgrade. New to the features party are support for AVCHD 2.0, video stabilization (to calm shaky video) and for larger-capacity (greater than 2.2TB) drives when backing up, commercial Blu-ray playback, ripping of noncommercial Blu-ray discs, and streaming of videos across your home network.

The Nero suite is slimmer, too, thanks to the omission of SoundTrax, Wave Editor, and Cover Designer, though these are still available as free downloads from Nero's site. Most users should be fine with the inline audio editing found within the video editor.

The main components of Nero Platinum 12 are Nero Video, for video editing and composition; Nero Express, for most simple disc-burning chores; Nero Burning ROM, for more-advanced burning chores; KwikMedia, for transferring, organizing, and playing all types of media; Nero Recode, for transcoding video to different formats and devices; Blu-ray Player, for playing commercial Blu-ray discs (including 3D); and BackItUp for backup. The package also includes Nero Rescue, a data recovery program.

The Nero 12 modules available in my preview release--especially the older ones--generally proved to be stable and capable performers in my hands-on testing. Both Burning ROM and Express burned discs flawlessly; Recode transcoded video for all of my devices speedily and without hiccups; and BackItUp and Nero Video were rock-solid. The only major flaw I encountered was extremely long load times (minutes for a full movie) when I used Nero Video to edit audio tracks. I hope that the release version has speedier load times.

As for the newer Nero modules: KwikMedia is slightly friendlier than the dictatorial but very capable free version of the media organizer, which I reviewed a few months ago. Unfortunately, the Blu-ray player wasn't available in the preview release, even the release date (September 24, 2012) was only four days away at the time, so I can't tell you how well it works.

I generally let installation routines run in the background while I'm doing something else. But Nero 12's installation routine popped dialog boxes in front of the applications I was using with enough frequency that I gave up on getting any work done and went to get coffee. The dialog boxes don't require clicking through, but they do get in the way.

Historically Nero's problem has been the difficult learning curve that its sometimes arcane interface imposes. Version 12 is better, but it could still stand some improvement. The look, despite being more homogeneous, is still a bit scattershot from module to module. As a result, though the power is there, discovering it can be a trial for new users. Still, Nero 12 Platinum remains at the top of the heap for consumer-level multimedia production and disc burning. (That appraisal assumes flawless Blu-ray playback in the final release.)

Nero 12 Platinum is available for $130, and the non-Platinum version costs $100. The latter lacks Blu-ray playback/ripping, template packages, and video stabilization. The upgrade for current users is relatively affordable at $40 for the Platinum version and $30 for the non-BD version. I recommend going for Platinum, where all the meaty new features are.

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