Nero's suite of multimedia software has grown in recent years to include video editing, multitrack audio support and Blu-ray authoring. It's a far cry from the CD-burning software it started out as.
Now in its tenth iteration, there's plenty of new stuff to play with. Most obviously the application launcher has been given a makeover, as has the all-round UI. The look is slightly less old-fashioned than before and cleaner too, but some of the applications, such as the audio wave and multitrack editors, are still in desperate need of attention. It isn't a sleek, modern integrated suite to rival CyberLink Media Suite 8.
Fortunately for Nero, the many added features are more important than its creaking design. Nero is pushing its photo, video and music organiser software hardest, although we're not quite sure why. The application allows you to browse, edit and tag photos, and display slideshows, create playlists and movies, all from the one interface. It's neat and tidy enough, but there's little here that Picasa doesn't do, and plenty of features it leaves out.
The most glaring omission is support for RAW camera formats, but it also lacks face recognition - a feature any photo organisation software worth its salt should be implementing these days. Movie playback, although competent, isn't currently as flexible as PowerDVD 9 (the player included with CyberLink Media Suite 8) either. The latter can be upgraded to play back Blu-ray movie discs; Nero can't, although it's planning to introduce a paid plugin later this year.
|Nero’s backup software includes incremental as well as differential options.|
Also new is the full version of Nero's backup product, BackItUp & Burn. This is a far more useful addition than the media organiser and includes incremental and differential backups, plus deleted file recovery.
Elsewhere, there's an array of useful disc-burning options, from ISO image burning to disc spanning, and also the potentially invaluable SecurDisc feature, which allows you to burn redundancy, password protection and encryption into your optical data discs. Useful for those "customer database left in the back of a cab" moments. The aforementioned audio-editing applications, although still no great shakes, do offer surprising power, including the ability to produce 5.1 audio mixes for home movies, and support for VST plugins.
But the most significant upgrade comes courtesy of Nero's video-editing application, Nero Vision Xtra. Where the previous version offered a streamlined, easy-to-use interface matched with basic facilities, Multimedia Suite 10 adds a series of more serious features. Foremost is support for more tracks - you can now add more than just the one main video track, so enabling picture-in-picture support and an array of other effects. There's a wide range of the latter too, including chroma keying, colour correction and rotation (in addition to the useful ad-detection tool from the previous version), and all effects can be animated via keyframes.
Thanks to Nero's efficient collection of video codecs, the most impressive thing is that editing HD video won't require a PC of
Herculean power. We found editing 1080p AVCHD footage (shot on a Panasonic HDC-TM700 camcorder) a smooth and responsive affair, and only once three or four demanding effects were applied did playback in the editor begin to stutter. Throw in Blu-ray authoring, CUDA support for AVCHD encoding plus Facebook and YouTube upload options, and you have a great value video editor.
Its main weaknesses are a cluttered editing screen, convoluted workflow and an occasionally illogical approach to control placement. Even on a relatively high-resolution screen we found ourselves clicking to expand and collapse the media manager, effects stack and track Properties panes; there's simply too much crammed into one screen. And we're not too keen on the general lack of stability either - on a couple of occasions, we'd be editing a project only to have it mysteriously and instantaneously shut down.
Altogether, though, the components of Nero Multimedia Suite 10 go together to make up a tempting package, on a par all round with its main rival, CyberLink Media Suite 8. It even pulls ahead in some departments, with its backup module and superior video-editing power. But stability is a concern, and it falls behind Media Suite in its lack of a Blu-ray playback upgrade option. For us that means CyberLink's suite remains, only just, the media suite of choice.