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Appeared on: Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Roxio Easy Media Creator 8

1. Introduction

Roxio is one of the world's leading providers of consumer digital media creation applications and produces innovative, easy-to-use products and media services that empower people to create, manage and share their digital media. We are going to be reviewing Roxio's latest creation, the Easy Media Creator 8 Suite. The package enables you to do more with your digital media because it's faster, more flexible and more compatible than ever before! With fully integrated technology from over twenty premium products, Easy Media Creator 8 Suite enables you to edit, back up, burn and copy all of your video, photos, music and data seamlessly.

The application comes with a manual in 5 languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish and Dutch. There are also 2 CD-Roms. One with the installation files and one with premium content such as professional special effects and transitions, photo content projects, pre-designed labels and premium menu styles.

2. Features

According to the manufacturer, the key features are:

Music Features:

• Enjoy up to 50 hours of music on a DVD with on-screen menus for navigating to your favorite artist, album and genre with Dolby® Digital sound.
• Use audio fingerprinting to automatically add title, artist and genre tags to audio tracks including those captured from LP, tape or Internet radio.
• Select dozens of your favorite songs and automatically span compilations across multiple audio CDs.
• Extract the audio tracks from live concert DVDs * and create personalized audio CDs or MP3s.
* Does not copy encrypted or copy-protected discs

Photo Features:

• Create elegant and high quality multi-image photo slideshows on HD or DVD.
• Use LiveShare to easily share your photos using peer-to-peer technology. Say goodbye to large email attachments.
• Use Smart Views to organize photos by date, last import or most recently used.
• Easily access media files across all home PCs and playback from UPnP compliant living room devices.
• Greeting Card, Calendar and Collage Assistants make it easy to be creative with your photos.

Video Features:

• Burn your TiVo shows to DVD and watch them anywhere. (Only available in North America.)
• Create 16:9 DVD video productions and photo slideshows for playback on your widescreen TV.
• Capture, import and edit High-Definition (HD) video files.
• Create DivX HD discs, to watch on HDTV (requires DivX HD compliant DVD player).
• Full creative control over DVD menu options including buttons, menus, backgrounds, audio and text.

Backup/Copy Features:

• Create compilation DVDs from DVD-Video, DivX and WMV files.
• Copy DVD movies to DivX or WMV files and compress to CD or memory card size for mobile device playback.
• Create DivX 6 movies with fully navigable menus.
• Make perfect copies of DVD+VR and DVD-VR discs from set top DVD recorders.
• Backup your digital media and other critical files automatically or manually.

DVD/CD Features:

• Save time burning. Burn multi-disc projects to multiple burners at the same time.
• Easily burn and copy audio, data, photo and video CDs and DVDs including double layer DVDs.

The Applications that comes with this suite are:
Backup MyPC 6
Creator Classic
Disc Copier
Label Creator
Media Manager
Sound Editor

Let's now examine each application and its respective features, and see if this suite can truly replace most, if not all, of our standalone programs for the same tasks.

3. Interface and Manual

The manual: As we have already stated, the manual comes in 5 languages. But don't expect a lot from the manual. The english manual is about 17 pages and explains the basic functions such as the installation procedure, the interface, and a brief description including main features of the various applications included in the suite. Fortunately, this is not the only help available. Roxio's online help and tutorials, found on the Roxio website, offers complete documentation for each application and you can also contact Roxio by phone or e-mail.

Easy Media Creator Home: The Home screen is the starting point for Easy Media Creator. It is the first screen you will see when you run the suite, from which you can access the various components and tools for all of your digital media projects.

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The Easy Media Creator 8 interface - Home screen

In the left pane, we have the Project Panel. From here, we can launch the various tools. You can also minimize the project tabs to save space. In the right pane, you can navigate to the most frequent tasks and in the middle pane, you can find more information about Easy Media Creator or read a description of the task that you have selected from the project panel.

Below these, we have the Control Panel. The control panel stretches across the bottom of the application window. It consists of three main areas:

The Mini Mode: Two versions of the project launcher interface are available: full-size and a miniature version called Mini mode. In case you find the full-size version too big and annoying, you will love the Mini Mode.

The Mini Mode

Drag-to-Disc Center: Drag-to-Disc lets you back up or save your data and files onto recordable CD or DVD media, just as you might do with a floppy disk or memory drive. Drag-to-Disc lets you add files to your disc by simply dragging them, and you can even use Windows Explorer.

You can now easily add files with Drag to Disk

I found the Control Panel and the Project Panel very useful and easy to use and I don't think that they could have been designed any better.

4. Music Features - Page 1
We will explore all the features of the Media Creator 8 suite. First, let's see what we can do with our music files.

Media Manager: Your media files (photos, video clips, music tracks, and Roxio projects) come from many different sources, and can be stored in various locations on your computer. They can also be stored on network drives, or on removable storage devices such as CD or DVD discs. Using Media Manager, you can store and organize all of your files.

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Media Manager provides two tools for organizing and viewing your media files:

You can use Media Manager to:

At this point, we must inform users that Media Manager is going to be used not only for our music needs but for every application we use. This is very useful because we need organize our files only once. After that, when we need to explore our videos, photos, images or documents, we will know where we to find them.

Music Disc Creator: Music Disc Creator lets you create music compilations to play on your home or car stereo, portable music player, DVD player, or on your computer. Using audio files from your music CDs, hard drives, or DVD-Video sources, you can create Audio CDs, MP3/WMA discs and DVD music discs.

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With Music Disc Creator, you can:

We found Music Disc Creator also very useful and easy to use, with a nicely designed interface. Very handy is the bar at the bottom, where you can choose the disk you want to use as well as also see the length of every track you have included and how many minutes are left in your project.

5. Music Features - Page 2
The second part of Music Features is dedicated to sound editing.

- Sound Editing -

Sound Editor: Sound Editor lets you record, preview, and modify any supported and non-copy-protected digital audio file format (including MP3, WAV, and WMA). You can use Sound Editor to import (record) audio from analog sources, including LP records and tapes, then apply audio effects to improve and enhance your recorded audio. Finally, you can save your audio tracks for use in other Roxio projects or burn them directly to CD.

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For editing sound clips, Media Creator 8 has the Sound Editor

When working on a Sound Editor project, you can:

With the sound editor, you can add to your tracks, all the famous effects that we find in most sound editing programs. You can also use this application to convert your files to other formats.

Media Creator 8 even has a utility to capture audio:
Easy Audio Capture: Easy Audio Capture lets you quickly capture (record) audio from analog sources (such as LP records, tapes, or Internet radio), using a connection from your audio equipment to your computer’s sound input.

You can even capture audio with Media Creator 8

Nothing special about this utility, it has everything you need to capture good quality audio.

6. Photo Features - Page 1
Next item on the agenda in our review is the PhotoSuite features. Prepare to be impressed. First, we are going to see the main application that you are going to use for editing photos:
Photo Suite 8: With Roxio’s PhotoSuite, it has never been easier to repair, enhance and share your digital photos.

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PhotoSuite 8. While editing a photo

You can use PhotoSuite to carry out everyday tasks, such as:

  • cropping photos
  • correcting exposure
  • removing red eye
  • straightening crooked photos
  • You can also use it to perform more advanced tasks, such as adjusting the tint, cloning a part of the image onto another area of the photo, or creating cutouts.

    PhotoSuite makes combining your photos into multi-photo projects easy and allows you to add shapes, drawings and text to your photos.

    Finally, you can use PhotoSuite to e-mail photos to your friends or post your trip memories on an Internet site.

    PhotoSuite 8 editing capabilities: With PhotoSuite 8, you have easy-to-use editing tools that include touch up brushes and paint tools, support for layers and cloning, and controls for setting transparency levels and edge fading. A complete set of tools for fixing common photo problems are available that allow you to fix overall problems with saturation, sharpness, exposure, or even red eye with a single click. Remove wrinkles, blemishes, dust or scratches easily and even cutout objects within a photo.

    Click to enlarge
    You have never seen so many special effects and all a click away

    Apart from those features, PhotoSuite 8 has a large number of special effects. From adjustments to colours, black and white effects, blurring, distortion, glass to natural, pattern, texture and warp effects. All are present. I have never seen so many special effects that can be performed with only one click. We were very satisfied with the performance of PhotoSuite 8.

    7. Photo Features - Page 2

    Apart from the great Photo Suite 8, Roxio provides us with some other applications that will make our computing lives easier.

    Create Panoramas: Media Creator 8 use this small tool for combining photos into a panorama. Very easy and interesting. It will be useful for a lot of users.

    Click to enlarge
    With this tool, you can combine photos into a panoramic view. For example from this...

    Click to enlarge
    ...to this. with only 3 clicks. Easy and very impressive .

    Multi Photo Enhance: Media Creator 8 also has a utility for editing a lot of photos at the same time, which can be very useful, so we are going to devote a little time on this feature.

    Click to enlarge
    Very helpful tool for editing a lot of photos simultaneously

    With this tool you can:

    With these tools, the photo part ends here. Multi photo enhancer will be very useful for users that have a lot of photos needing touch ups and special effects.

    8. Video Features - Page 1
    We will now examine what tools Media Creator 8 uses for watching, editing and converting video files. First, we will take a look at the player.
    Sonic CinePlayer: Easy Media Creator 8 uses the Sonic™ CinePlayer™, Sonic Solutions' DVD and digital media player. CinePlayer represents a major leap forward in DVD and multimedia playback on a PC, combining the highest quality DVD playback experience available in a software-only solution.

    Click to enlarge
    The CinePlayer has nothing to be jealous of compared to other standalone professional players

    CinePlayer features are:

    In our tests, we found it to be a very good and very fast player (using as little as 1.5 MB available video memory for playback). It has all the necessary features to ensure you enjoy your movies and not only. For editing your video files and making your movies, Roxio has VideoWave.

    VideoWave 8: VideoWave 8 makes it easy to edit and produce Hollywood-style videos complete with music, transitions, special effects, text credits and theater-rich Dolby Digital sound. Author and burn professional-quality DVDs with animated menus and resizable buttons.

    Click to enlarge

    Use VideoWave 8 to :

    VideoWave 8 uses an interface that has become common in the last few years with such programs. It has a very rich repertoire of effects and there are effects that you may not possibly find anywhere else. However, we encountered some program bugs while editing our movie but were able to continue our project without losing our job.

    On the next page, we will learn more about MyDVD, the application that you are going to use to create your own DVD.

    9. Video Features - Page 2

    After you are done with the editing, it is time to create the DVD, with a background of your choice, audio files and your special blend of effects. For this job, we will use:
    MyDVD 8: With MyDVD, it's easy to turn your digital home video and photos into DVDs, VCDs, and SVCDs with professional transitions and animated menus. You can also create DVDs without a menu, that contain only video content.

    MyDVD lets you create and burn DVD-recordable and CD-recordable discs that play back in most set-top DVD players and in computers with DVD drives. You can also edit a MyDVD project on an editable DVD disc.

    Click to enlarge
    MyDVD 8. Creating a new project

    With MyDVD you can:

    With MyDVD's simple steps, you can add video and audio files and effects and create a DVD or CD compilation. The interface is consistent with the rest of the Media Creator applications. The project view in the left pane helps monitor the sequence of your various media files that make up your compilation.

    10. Backup/Copy Features

    After all that painstaking editing and all those image, audio and video files you have created, it would be a pity to lose all of your work through a hardware or software failure. Roxio knows this all to well which is they have provided professional backup solution.

    Backup MyPC 6: Backup MyPC is a powerful backup solution for Windows, designed to protect your valuable data. From Roxio we learned that the main features are:

    Click to enlarge
    Backup MyPC 6 main screen

    Disaster Recovery Features:

    System Backup/Restore Features:

    Personal Data Archive Features:

    Other Features:

    As we can see, Backup MyPC 6 has all the necessary tools needed for a complete and professional backup. Don't forget to backup your files frequently.

    11. DVD/CD Features - Page 1
    So far, we have looked at all the Media Creator applications, but we as yet seen how we to burn our files onto CD or DVD media. The burning process is available from Roxio's Main or Home screen as Roxio calls it, or you can use the good old classic wizard..

    Click to enlarge
    Users can still use the good old classic wizard

    Click to enlarge
    Here is a small bug that we encountered in the Home screen. It isn't able to identify how much disk space we have free in our system in order to make an image.

    While making a Data CD/DVD: Making a data CD/DVD is extremely easy and fast with media creator 8. You simply select the option Data/ Data Disc to make a data CD/DVD, select the source drive in the input panel, select your files, and click burn from the action area.

    Click to enlarge
    While adding Data

    If you want to copy a disk, you have to select Copy/ Copy Disc, set the destination and source drives and click burn. You don't have to wait for a new window to come up. All the procedures are done from the Media Creator Home.

    When you are copying a disk and you have only 1 drive for both source and destination, you will be prompted with a message to insert a blank disk in order to continue. After inserting a Blank disc, Media Creator still wait for you to press ok. It would be nice if in the future, this was detected automatically.

    You will then see a progress bar and the actual burning speed during burning. In the same manner, you can follow the progress when burning audio and photo files through Roxio's Home.

    Click to enlarge
    While burning data to DVD

    While Making an Audio CD/DVD: For every action you want to perform, Roxio has a guide that helps you to understand which tool you need. When dealing with audio, you can:

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    While converting Tapes, very easy to use, just capture the audio, add effects and convert it to digital format

    12. DVD/CD Features - Page 2

    While Making a Photo Project: apart from organizing and editing your photos as we saw in previous pages, Media Creator 8 also lets you:

    Click to enlarge
    When creating slideshows, you simply select your photos, add an audio file, select a transition style and burn your creation onto Video CD or DVD media.

    While Making a Video Project: The tools that are provided here apart from the applications we have already seen are:

    Click to enlarge
    In the same way that you can create slideshows, you can create a movie

    Last but not least, you can create your labels with Label Creator.

    Label Creator 8: Label Creator gives you the tools to make professional-looking labels, inserts, sleeves, and case covers for CDs and DVDs. Additionally, Label Creator helps you record and organize information about the content of your CDs and DVDs on binder pages.You can even create the designs and print the labels, inserts, covers, and binder pages while you burn discs. Label Creator also works with special printers that print designs directly to discs, and LightScribe® recorders that burn labels on to discs. Label Creator supports many of the popular printers and LightScribe-capable burners on the market today.

    Click to enlarge
    Roxio's Label Creator 8

    Label creator has all the necessary components that you need to create wonderful labels. You can add your information, in some cases automatically and apply your own styles. We would like to see more layouts (e.g. for business labels) as well as for rectangular biz card CDs. During our testing, we encountered some problems that caused Label Creator to crash.

    13. Conclusion
    Easy Media Creator 8 is the most complete solution that you can find when it comes to CD and DVD media compilations. We found using Easy Media Creator very enjoyable. It's most prominent features are:

    I don't think that there will be many users who will not be satisfied with Media Creator 8. Some small bugs with Roxio's Home screen, Cover Design and VideoWave should not worry user's a lot, since we believe they will be fixed by Roxio in a future release. We will update this review if Roxio releases any updates to this product that address any such problems or add new features. Stay tuned.

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