There was a time when you bought CD burning software to, well, burn CDs. But, as is the case with so many programs today, doing one or two things well isn't enough anymore. So Roxio, building on Easy CD Creator version 5, has added a slew of programs that move Easy CD & DVD Creator 6 well beyond a mere CD burner into the realm of full-blown digital media studio. Whether you consider this a positive move or not depends on your needs as an individual user. Power users who have their own preferred programs for these side tasks may consider the additional programs as mere clutter, while less experienced users or those looking for a single, integrated tool may be happy to have everything they need in one convenient package. Still others may find Roxio taking important strides toward creating multipurpose tools that combine related functions, following a course parallel to products like Pinnacle Studio 8 and Sonic Foundry Vegas+DVD, which integrate video editing and DVD creation. You can't help wondering which approach will attract a bigger crossover market.
While you won't find any major cosmetic changes to the core applications, Disc Copier and Creator Classic, Roxio has made some updates under the hood, including increasing copy speed and providing for DVD support, among others. To Roxio's credit, they have added a DVD burning application along with an integrated Roxio player to play back DVD, SVCD, or VCD, both of which were a must for them to remain relevant. They have also added a new audio application, photo editing software, and an applet that allows you to drag and drop files onto a CD for quick burning. While Roxio dabbled in several similar applications in version 5, these are completely new programs, and the company has taken on a monumental task by overhauling the product in such dramatic fashion. While you might not find all of the functionality you expect in each component, for the most part, Roxio has done a good job of providing for just about every digital media contingency.
Let's Get Started
You can't get around the fact that this is a big program. In fact, Easy CD & DVD Creator 6 has grown from a rather robust 200MB for the full installation in version 5 to a whopping 800+ MB in the current version. Users who prefer a leaner install can pick and choose which applications they want during installation. Roxio has included a familiar Microsoft Office-like installation model, making it a simple task to leave out applications you don't want (or to add or remove elements after the initial installation).
After you install and reboot, you will notice that Roxio has added two icons to your Windows system tray, for Audio Central and Drag-to-Disc (discussed in detail later). You will also notice the Drag-to-Disc applet in the bottom right-hand corner of your Windows desktop. Power users may not be happy to have Roxio add programs to the startup process in this fashion, especially when there was no prompt about it during installation. To be fair, the install program does prompt you about whether you want the Drag-to-Disc program on the desktop.
A Change of Face
When you open Easy CD Creator 6, you will notice an entirely new program selector. Roxio has simplified the process of choosing the right program by switching to a simple menu selector with far less clutter than the 5.0 selection interface. When you place your cursor over a selection, a brief explanation of the application appears, but it would be nice if you could shut this off, since most users will understand the different functions fairly quickly. After you select a program, you can access other programs in the suite from a convenient menu that opens at the top of the Windows desktop. Several of the programs in the suite are designed in a modern Windows style without a title bar and include a new burn button in the bottom right-hand corner, providing simple, one-button access to the burn function, the reason most people buy this package in the first place. Unfortunately, Roxio was not consistent in its design and inexplicably included the old Windows look in Classic Creator. Roxio, however, has included a straightforward tutorial for each application in an integrated Flash interface that explains how to get started using each of the programs.
Make a DVD
Perhaps the most significant change in version 6 is the all-new DVD application Roxio has dubbed DVD Builder. You can build a DVD quickly and easily, and the program is a huge improvement over the video applications included in version 5 (which didn't even include DVD creation capability). While DVD Builder isn't completely intuitive, it's fairly easy to understand, especially after viewing the tutorial. You can import digital media from a digital camcorder, a digital camera or scanner, or a DVD. It also includes a feature that allows you to record directly from a digital source in real time.