Nero

Nero saves the day: Nero 10 Platinum HD

Nero is an ambitious word. It’s tried to grab as many varied uses as possible: Crazed Roman Emperor, corporate coffee-joint, the New England Role-playing Organisation. For over 300 million users, however, the word is more familiar for burning CDs. Recently, the company behind the Nero Burning ROM software has become every bit as ambitious as the name it uses. Enter Nero 10 Multimedia Suite PLATINUM HD – your ultimate solution to CD burning, video editing, media-organising and system back-up’ing.

There’s so much included in the new Nero 10 PLATINUM HD package that it’s difficult to find somewhere to start. Perhaps the best bet is to begin with the software which left our jaws a’gaping:

Nero

Nero Vision Xtra: HD Editing for the Family
Although Vision Xtra originally joined the Nero 10 family back in April, this HD update has really brought the program into its own. The major upgrades are the ability to playback Blu-ray discs and the addition of “Nero Creative Packs”.
Blu-ray playback adds to the software’s existing Blu-ray options – authoring and HD editing, to make the package the complete HD circle: play, edit and create. It’s nice that the features are all enclosed in one place – even in the infinitely simple iLife you’d have to switch between programs to author a disc (and in iLife Blu-ray is unsupported).

In terms of video editing, the program’s closest competitor is another Apple product: iMovie HD. Vision Xtra has definitely taken inspiration from the simplicity of Apple’s editing software. You won’t find the plethora of options you’d get on Final Cut or Premier Pro, but you also won’t have to spend three hours YouTube’ing tutorials.

As well as adding 50 new transitions and 30 effects, part of the “Nero Creative Packs”, the new edition adds a template for picture-in-picture. Sixty-six templates, to be exact. Simply drop a template onto the editing timeline, drag in some clips and you’ll have a nifty PiP effect in no time.

With the myriad of new effects and transitions, Nero decided that it’d be a good idea to create a “favourites” menu. If you like a particular effect, or want a coherent video style, this not only speeds up editing, but removes the annoyance of scrolling through menus time and time again.

Behind the scenes, they’ve also beefed up the software. You can now export movies in Flash format, as well as PowerPoint video. There’s also added support for multi-core CPUs, NVIDA GPUs and background rendering, improving the preview quality immensely. Although there is no native 64-bit support, Nero engineers were quick to inform us that for video editing, the performance gains from 64-bit architecture would be minimal.

The mixture of powerful editing tools and a simple interface means that for families, or people without much spare time, putting together a movie is painless. Sure, you won’t see James Cameron authoring Avatar 2: A Bit of a Cash In on it. But for home users, the simplicity encourages you to give it a try – to turn those holiday clips into a video, rather than mere hard drive filler.

MediaHub: Possibly the Simplest Way to Transfer Media, Ever
MediaHub lets you store all your videos, pictures and music in one place. It does this by importing information from iTunes and Windows Media Player, as well as Windows 7 libraries. And it plays Blu-ray discs.

It’s also mighty fast. If you set it as your default image viewer, the loading time is as instant as Windows Preview. You then click the “MediaHub” button at the bottom, and it’ll boot up a bunch of editing options – “enhance, adjust, effects”. It also has tools to auto-enhance, remove red eye, crop, put together a little slideshow, e-mail a photo to a friend (and it scales it down for you, which is pretty neat). Really, it’s all a bit Picasa, except with less options and plug-ins, and better video file support.

The real selling point is the “Move It Plug-in”. If this has been done before, it has never been done as well as this. Every time you plug in an external device, be it an iPhone or a camcorder, MediaHub takes note. It then lets you re-encode media on-the-fly, specifically to that device’s resolution and playback options.

In essence, it automatically optimises any media for playback on your devices. You’ll get the best possible picture, the least possible disk usage, the most possible battery life from your gadget and the easiest conversion ever.

The Other Stuff:
There are a bunch of other updates around the included software, including a command-line interface for Burning ROM and faster performance in Back It Up, but these are really specialist areas and optimisations, rather than the features that have kept us impressed.

For £79.99, it’s quite the bargain – especially when you factor in the estimated cost of £11 per unit for a Blu-ray license. What’s really tempting, however, is if you already own the old Nero 10, because updating will only cost you a cool £19.99.