Nero 11 continues the multimedia creation and burning suite's evolution into a friendlier product. Nero already offered a powerful set of programs for creating, editing, transcoding, and burning video and photo slideshow discs, as a well as for editing audio and backing up your data. With this latest release (list price £69 for the standard version; £89 for the Platinum edition), Nero revamped and improved several of the major components, and linked them via a common media file browser. As a result, the suite feels more like a cohesive product, rather than an ad-hoc collection of components.
New Nero 11 features include comprehensive support for AMD, nVidia, and Intel hardware GPU video-encoding acceleration; LiveBackup, a TimeMachine-like backup function incorporated into the BackItUp imaging and file backup program; and the aforementioned MediaBrowser, which catalogs your photo, video, and audio files, and makes them available throughout the suite's major components.
Kwik Media, a Windows Media Player-like module, is also new to the suite, if not a new program. It plays music, videos, and photos, as well as imports and exports media to Android and iOS devices. Kwik Media is actually free, and available for download at the company's website.
In my hands-on, Nero 11 installed without a hitch, but for some reason, it didn't create an icon for the "Welcome to Nero" launch application. A remake of the former StartSmart, the launcher lets you access all of the suite's modules and create desktop icons for them. But it won't delete the desktop icons it creates--you'll need to drag them to the Recycle Bin manually if you want to get rid of them.
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The modules with the modernized look and feel are the very capable Nero Video editor, Kwik Media, BackItUp, and the Recode CD/DVD ripper and transcoder. The newer look is friendly, classy, and--most important--far more intuitive. Poor workflow and a steep learning curve have traditionally been sore points for Nero. In the main modules, that's no longer the case.
Alas, the modern look and logic has not been instituted suitewide, so the suite as a whole isn't as cohesive as it could be. There are new welcome screens throughout, but it feels like you're warping back in time when you open the Wave Editor, the Nero Express wizard-based video disc creator, the SoundTrax multitrack audio recorder, Nero Burning ROM (the original disc burning component), and other modules. Fortunately, the main modules offer enough inline editing of photos, audio, and video that you won't use these auxiliary programs often.
Nero Video, BackItUp, and Recode compare favorably with the best stand-alone applications in their respective fields, so Nero 11 provides a lot of bang for the buck. However, as with rival Roxio, Nero is competing with the software that came with your burner, with new competing features in operating systems, and with a host of freebies that handle many CD/DVD chores. Blu-ray remains the province of paid software such as Nero, so you'll get the most value out of the Platinum version of Nero 11, which offers comprehensive Blu-ray support (aside from 3D).