The almost universal success of Roxio's CD- and DVD-authoring software made it a very tempting target for Sonic Solutions - the developers of, among other programs, MyDVD. This is the first complete upgrade of Easy Media Creator under new ownership.

The main change is a division between the full Creator suite and a cut-down package - Essentials. Previous versions of Easy Media Creator quickly overtook Easy CD and DVD Creator as the suite of choice, and provided more tools than most people would require, at slightly greater expense.

Creator Essentials offers most of the applications of the complete suite at a cheaper price. The core of Essentials consists of applications to burn and copy discs, as well as to edit audio, video and photos. New disc-burning features include the ability to burn to multiple drives simultaneously, as well as write a CD or DVD and create a disc image at the same time.

Once you've created your CD or DVD - using the effective Drag-to-Disc utility if necessary - there are comprehensive design templates for making your own natty label.

All media authoring

Aside from data backup and disc authoring, Creator Essentials organises its various applications under these headings: Audio, DVD & Video, and Photo.

One element missing from Essentials but present in the complete suite is the chance to create virtual disc drives on your PC. Other features not here but in the full suite include VideoWave and a sound editor. The audio tools are the most disappointing. You can create audio CDs from files on your hard drive or convert audio CDs to MP3, but there's no sophisticated support for sound editing.

DVD authoring is better. MyDVD allows you to create a decent-looking front end for your disc quickly and easily. This is a considerable improvement over VideoWave's previous approach to creating discs.

VideoWave is not necessarily the best of budget editors, but it's sorely missed here. It can provide plenty of tools for the amateur to knock their footage into shape. So if you want an all-in-one suite, you'll need to purchase the full version.

PhotoSuite success

Some of the utilities included in the Essentials package are a little mundane. Turning to image editing, however, is a very different story. PhotoSuite is a perfectly decent application that will perform the vast majority of tasks most users will require. This is one area where some of the additional features in the Creator suite - such as the ability to create widescreen slideshows - are somewhat redundant.

If you need more from an editor, then you should really expect to spend a little more and invest in Paint Shop Pro. However, the inclusion of PhotoSuite at this price is real value for money.

Roxio Easy Media Creator 8.0 Essentials: Specs

  • Pentium III 500MHz (1.6GHz recommended)
  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 128MB RAM (256MB recommended)
  • 1GB hard disk space
  • DirectX 9.0-compatible graphics card
  • QuickTime 6.4/Windows Media Player 7.1
  • Pentium III 500MHz (1.6GHz recommended)
  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 128MB RAM (256MB recommended)
  • 1GB hard disk space
  • DirectX 9.0-compatible graphics card
  • QuickTime 6.4/Windows Media Player 7.1

OUR VERDICT

It's hard to get excited about Creator Essentials. Roxio's CD- and DVD-authoring tools are superb. They're intuitive and extremely easy to use. PhotoSuite and MyDVD are good, but for any users of Creator 7.0 or 7.5 there's nothing here to recommend an upgrade. Most of the exciting innovation (such as burning DivX or WMV to disc, or creating music DVDs) has been saved for the full Creator Suite. If you have other good editing applications, then this program is good value - but otherwise we recommend spending extra on the complete version.

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