Ottawa PC Users' Group, Inc.
 Product Review 


Roxio Creator 2009
by Alan German

If you need a CD burning program you will probably look at the latest version of one of the industry's leading utilities – Roxio Creator 2009. But, you will find that you get so much more than just the ability to burn CD's and DVD’s. Creator 2009 will also let you work with digital movies, music files, and digital photographs, providing sophisticated tools to capture, edit, and store these different types of media.

The program interface is clean, colourful, and very intuitive to use, with the most recently used items displayed as icons in the central window. The main program elements are permanently displayed in a side bar on the left of the program window. Selecting any one of these brings up a sub-menu of specific tasks. For the most part, clicking on a given task launches a sub-program that opens in a new window.

The Data – Copy option is the source of tools for disk burning activities, with options to create disks, copy disks, and backup files. The Burn Data Disk task provides a project window where you can browse for files or folders, and then add them to a list of items to be burnt to a CD or DVD. Individual files and folders can be added by browsing a disk directory tree and selecting desired items, or by dragging and dropping them from Windows Explorer into the project window. You can further tailor the list by adding more files or folders or removing specific items. A quick scan feature lets you add all of the files of specific types, such as e-mail messages, photographs, or music files, in specified locations.

One of my favourite aspects of the program is that if you insert an appendable disk, you are asked if you would like to load the contents of the disk into the current project. You can then open an existing directory and add new files to that directory. This provides a very convenient way of storing sets of files that accumulate additions over time, such as an archive of OPCUG’s newsletters. It is also possible to delete a file or a folder from a disk, for example in order to correct an error in a file burnt to disk by effectively overwriting the file with an updated version. Obviously, on a write-once medium such as a CD-R, you can’t reclaim the space taken up by the deleted file, but the deletion process has the effect of removing the file that is no longer required and thus “cleans up” the file system.

A really handy feature is a bar graph at the bottom of the display window that tracks how much of the target disk is in use, and how much free space remains, so that it's very easy to manage the burning process. An Options button lets you change important features like leaving a partially full disk open so that additional material can be added later, and selecting between the safest (verification) and fastest modes of burning. Interestingly, the options window refers only to DVD’s – “I want to leave the DVD open so that I can continue to write to it” – whereas clearly the options apply equally to both CD’s and DVD’s. But, hit the big green Go button, and the burning process starts automatically, with an animated display indicating progress to completion.

For users of older versions of Roxio's Creator series, the advanced burning option launches the Creator Classic utility. Some other options are to burn a disk from an ISO file or create an ISO file from a disk, to make a copy of a CD or DVD, and to create disk labels.

Creator 2009 also features file backup and restore. The BackonTrack utility lets you select a folder for backup, the files within this folder that are to be included, and provides the ability to set a daily, weekly or monthly backup schedule if so desired. A second option allows for the restoration of an existing backup folder.

Those of you who own digital camcorders will find the program’s video functions useful. There is everything from transferring video from the camera to the hard disk or direct to DVD, through editing the footage, to burning the final product to DVD, and even a video player system to manage and view your movie files.

A similar set of tools is available for processing digital photographs. Images can be downloaded from a digital camera and then processed in an editing suite with more than three dozen tools to let you crop the image; change the brightness, contrast and colour; fix red eye; and much more. A separate feature allows such edits to be made to multiple images. Optional outputs include slideshows, panoramas, picture albums, greeting cards and calendars in addition to a variety of print formats (e.g. contact sheets), and the ability to send images by E-mail, or share them with family and friends on the web using Roxio Online.

For music lovers there are tools to rip tracks from CD’s or to record music captured by the sound card. There are editing capabilities to combine and refine various sound tracks, convert files to MP3 format, the ability to add song titles and artist information, options to create playlists or audiobooks for use on iPod’s or other music players, and to tools to burn your music collections to CD or DVD.

The program’s help system uses lots of colour and graphics to supplement the generally clear instructions. The backup and restore functions were new to me but, interestingly, these doesn’t seem to be any mention of these in the help system, nor is BackonTrack included as a search term. But, as noted earlier, Creator’s functions are very intuitive so a little missing information in the help files is no big deal. A second option in the help menu leads to a set of files labelled as Tutorials. Once again, these are very colourful, and have information that can be readily assimilated; however, they are more along the lines of general descriptions of the program’s features, rather than detailed how-to guides. But, overall, there is lots of useful information in the help system, and it’s generally easy to locate the detail required.

This is not a program for the faint of heart. There are many integrated modules and the complete package weighs in at approximately 1.5 GB on the hard disk. Also, you also shouldn’t be in a hurry to use any of the program’s features. It takes a surprising two minutes or so for the program to load on my dual-core machine. But, once in place, there is a wealth of choices to process any of your electronic media files.


Bottom Line:

Roxio Creator 2009
Proprietary ($99.99)
Sonic Solutions
http://www.roxio.com/


Click here to view the full OPCUG website with frames.

Copyright and Usage
Ottawa Personal Computer Users' Group (OPCUG), Inc.
3 Thatcher Street, Ottawa, ON  K2G 1S6

The opinions expressed in these reviews do not necessarily
represent the views of the OPCUG or its members.

Send comments or suggestions to the .