Roxio has brought a common look and feel to Easy Media Creator's various components. There are large buttons and pop-up tool tips for beginners, though advanced users can opt for more options and controls. Because of Easy Media Creator's sheer number of tools, Roxio has devised an excellent new user interface. Expanding on a more traditional launcher setup, in which you select which specific application to open, Easy Media Creator also features a user-friendly, task-oriented interface. Split into three tiers, the home page's top row offers a list of possible jobs, divided by category: Music, Data (CD), Photo, Video, and DVD. The middle row provides a more traditional list of the available applications and tools, and the bottom row displays a list of recent projects for quick access.
With a task-based interface that offers a laundry list of operations ranging from Edit Video to Create Greeting Card, Easy Media Creator takes the guesswork out of selecting applications.
While Easy Media Creator's components are highly integrated, they're still separate applications. When you select a task, the home menu immediately disappears, and you're left with a blank screen until an application loads; it's a bit disconcerting at first. The suite's Media Manager is great for previewing and organizing all of your files, but it's not always the most efficient way to execute tasks such as editing a group of photos or videos. Thankfully, each editing application still includes its own integrated browser or preview interface. Roxio Easy Media Creator 7.0 brims with features new and old. Roxio has taken a major step in dividing up capture and management components for all types of media--photo, video, and audio. But it also makes it easy to bring all of the media types back together to create complete productions, such as slide shows and DVDs.
Creator Classic, Roxio's trusty app for burning data and audio CDs and MP3 discs, can now perform scheduled backups for periodic, automated data archiving. Roxio's Retrieve utility can be included on backup discs to extract files with optional encryption or multidisc spanning. A Drag-to-Disc feature lets you write discs directly from Windows Explorer, while the handy Disc And Device utility provides information on disc drives and their contents.
For audio work, Creator can now rip to the Ogg Vorbis format, and it uses the Gracenote CDDB2 service to identify audio CDs. Another utility lets you create disc labels, jewel case inserts, and booklets. Beyond simple disc-to-disc copying, the Disc Copier utility also lets you extract material from unprotected DVD-Video discs. You can preview video content, select an individual video title, and choose to copy just the primary audio format; however, you cannot pick and choose video titles and audio tracks. The Disc Copier is OK, but limited compared to some standalone tools such as InterVideo's DVD Copy.
In advanced mode, Easy Media Creator's Disc Copier offers some fairly full-bodied features.
The Capture tool can import photos from a camera or scanner, grab video from a camcorder or a TV tuner, or capture audio; the SmartScan feature lets you prescan a DV tape to preview scenes before capturing, saving time in the long run. You can also use Capture to extract video clips from a DVD disc or DVD folder on a hard disk, but with less control than you have using Disc Copier. During our testing, the DVD disc-scanning feature often failed to find clips.
PhotoSuite 7.0 provides a very friendly interface for common photo-editing tasks, as well as enhancement options such as painting, masking, and facial-flaw correction; it's a nice application for beginners but has less depth than other dedicated photo editors. For video editing, VideoWave 7.0 offers a host of options for users of various skill levels; you can use Cinemagic to automatically edit a video production, StoryBuilder to guide you through the process more manually, or the Production Editor interface to create a production using a storyboard or time-line view. We really like VideoWave's multiple modes, and it should keep new users happy for quite a while.
Easy Media Creator includes DVD Builder for authoring DVDs and a variety of VCD formats. It offers template-based DVD menu design, with control over designing menus, buttons, chapters, and tracks of multiple clips (with transitions). The Plug & Burn feature records directly from a DV camcorder to a DVD disc, and the Edit DVD disc feature can edit directly on a rewritable disc or add new titles to a recordable disc before it is finalized.
Easy Media Creator has scads of other features, including a basic sound editor, a simple media player that cannot display movies in full wide-screen, and Napster 2.0 for (legally) previewing and purchasing downloaded music. Roxio offers good support for Easy Media Creator 7.0. Extensive built-in help comes by way of links to the PDF user guides and additional online resources. The company's Web site offers a searchable knowledge base and discussion groups with active responses from Roxio staff. Roxio provides complimentary e-mail technical support, but for only 90 days after a user's first contact--a little chintzy in our opinion.
Roxio's online support offers a solid knowledge base, very helpful discussion groups, and a decent FAQ.
Telephone support, available weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, costs $35 per incident. Support requires a Technical Support Identification number, found on the installation CD (but different from the CD Key).