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The Nero 6 weekend: The Emperor's new clothes


Ahead Software is possibly the most closely watched software vendor in the optical storage industry. For some time the makers of Nero Burning ROM have been busy bees, and their product line has extended to whole to markets. Especially their new focus seems to be in multimedia products, as they have been announcing new products for authoring and playback of video and audio data. Their upcoming Nero version 6 has raised a lot of anticipation as it seems to be a real full house combination of CD/DVD recoding, video and audio products. These are the Emperor's new clothes.


Nero SmartStart


As Nero 6 contains a big bunch of components, Ahead Software has included a new SmartStart quick launch bar to integrate the parts together more closely. The interface is very visual and quite usable. Could be a nice addition for newbies, but perhaps just adds an extra unnecessary step for the professionals. The SmartStart is configurable as the colors can be chaged and the task icons in the panel reconfigured. Ability to reconfigure the task could be useful in corporate usage as only vital tasks could be presented to the end user. SmartStart also has a switchable Advance mode that enables more functions to the panel.

One very useful feature of the SmartStart is that it includes version management and a software update notification features. Smart start can automatically check for updates from Ahead Software servers, a feature that is new for the version 6 of Nero products.


Nero Burning ROM 6


This is the actual core of this software package, and the software component that has made Ahead Software famous. I have to admit that I was slightly worried if Ahead decides to modify it too much, or if the changes will not be improvements over the classic interface of Nero 5 series.


The GUI has received a facelift


Gladly we can notice that everything is in place in the Burning ROM. If you were able to use Nero 5.5, there isn’t much to learn when upgrading to version 6. The GUI has been polished to a more visual, perhaps more Windows XPish, style. The menus have been slightly reorganized and some functions are now more easily accessible than before. For example, the used recorder device can now be changed directly from the top menu.


Burning task dialog


Also, the burning dialog has been reorganized for more usability. There are little additions to the functions as well. Small things, but in my opinion that the Ahead Software has really been thinking the burning process over and so far it seems that they have been successful in improving the user interface.



Multitasking burning process


The actual burning process has been modified significantly. The user has now ability to start pre-mastering new tasks and burn them as well if more than one recordable drives are available. This has been possible before by starting multiple Nero instances, and this is actually what Nero 6 does in this case, but this simplifies the process.


Conclusions


Even though Ahead has added a lot of eye candy to Nero, the software hasn't bloated. Nero 6 still is an efficient burner which doesn't consume too much RAM or CPU time. Small usability changes seem to be good decisions and small feature additions should please the power user. The wizard-like Nero Express interface is there, and might be appealing for total newbies. We've burned a number of discs with the new Nero and so far the performance and reliability has been good.

The Nero Burning ROM v5.5 was the leading all-in-one recording software and the version 6.0 doesn’t seem to change the balance of power. However, the 6.0 upgrade is not free for the version 5.5 license holders. Even though the changes and new features are nice they still are quite small ones while the old 5.5 version still is an excellent software. The real bisquit in the Ner 6 package is the software bundled with the Burning ROM. Therefore one should consider if the other software modules give the added value worth the upgrade.
Written by: Lasse Penttinen
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