NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, January 2006
Complete CD and DVD Burning Utility in One Box
by Ira Wilsker
Golden Triangle PC Club
From the September, 2005 issue of the I/O Port Newsletter


I burn a lot of CDs and DVDs, typically purchasing media by the spindle of 50 or 100. I have tried a lot of the software from the major publishers, as well as the software integral in Windows XP, and have now settled on my favorite product, NTI’s “CD & DVD Maker 7 Titanium Suite”. I have found it feature rich, with all of the utilities in a single box, and easy to use.

As many of you may know, if you simply want to burn files to a CD, and you have Windows XP, no third party software is required, as Microsoft has licensed a limited functionality version of CD burning software from Roxio, and built it into Windows Explorer. The key term here is “limited function”, as all the integral XP software will generally only copy files to CD, but offers no editing, labeling, or other often used functions. To use the limited built-in XP CD burning software, simply select the files from Windows Explorer, right click the mouse, and choose “Send To” and then select the CD drive. After all of the files have been selected, again using Windows Explorer, select the CD drive, and then click on “Files” and then “Write these files to CD”. If a blank disc is in the CD drive, Windows will write the files to the disc. This narrow utility may be fine for simply copying files, but utterly lacks any additional functionality that many of us would like to use.

Most new computers or after market CD and DVD drives typically come with a limited functionality “light”, “limited”, or “SE – Special Edition” CD and DVD burning software that adds some useful additional features, but generally does not offer much more than copying and creating discs, and possibly the chance to make labels.

For those who really want power, control, and selection over what can be done with CD and DVD media, NTI (Newtech Infosystems) recently released its CD & DVD Maker 7 Titanium Suite, which is possibly the most comprehensive suite of CD and DVD utilities on the market. With a retail price of $79.99 (I found it locally for $59.99), the number of functions available for the price is remarkable. In addition to the typical copy, create, and label functions common in almost all full versions of competitive software, this bundle has much more. Since many of us now have some form of video capture device connected to our computers, the “Home Video-Maker” allows for video capture from any video source attached to the computer (such as a camcorder or TV tuner). Once captured, the video can be edited, and special effects and transitions can be added to create professional appearing DVDs or CD. A wave editor allows any sounds to be edited, removing pops and hisses. Audio editing also allows for the effects of filtering, trimming, fading, echoing, and amplifying any audio, improving the sound. As has been repeated several times in this column, one of the most critical tasks that computer users must periodically perform is backing up critical files, or an entire hard drive; included in this suite is NTI’s award winning backup software, “Backup Now!”. With it, I routinely back up my hard drive to an external drive, doing a full backup monthly, and an incremental (only new or changed files) weekly. Backup Now! supports virtually all media formats, including CD discs, DVD discs, external drives, and other formats. With a good current backup, hard drive crashes and other maladies are far less exasperating because our critical data and programs can be easily recovered.

I enjoy playing commercial DVDs on my computer, because it has better sound and sharper video than my free standing DVD player and TV. This suite comes with excellent DVD Playback software that can play almost all of the major video formats, including AVI, MPEG-1, and MPEG-2.

A fun feature in the suite is “Cinematic Video” and “Cinematic Slideshow” where home videos and still image slideshows can be easily created with transitions and special effects synchronized with background music. The resulting Cinematic production appears very professional, but is especially easy to create, as the program intelligently and automatically can add the transitions and effects, while synchronizing with the background audio.

Many free standing DVD players can show a photo slideshow on a TV, and this suite includes Photo Slideshow software. With it, customized photo slideshows can be created with attractive transitions and special effects, with the output burned to CD or DVD in a format that can be played on almost all household DVD players. This is an excellent way to share photos with others.

In a recent column, I wrote about the new Lightscribe standard, where using compatible CD and DVD discs, professional appearing labels can be burned directly on the top of the media with “Burn – Flip – Burn simplicity. This feature is being included on all newly produced Titanium Suite software, or is available as a free upgrade via download from the NTI website at http://www.ntius.com. For those who still prefer to make paper stick-on labels and jewel case inserts, JewelCase Maker is included in the suite which allows the user to create, design, and print labels and inserts using traditional methods.

Audio aficionados will find the ability to rip music CDs and convert them to MP3 format a useful utility. An added feature allows users to convert old records, cassettes, and 8-tracks, (remember those?) to digital format which can then be burned to CD, providing an appropriate input is available.

Personally, I have found NTI’s CD & DVD Maker Titanium Suite an extremely valuable component of my software collection, and I use it on a frequent basis.

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