Like its predecessors (which bore the name Easy Media Creator), Roxio Creator 2009 is a massive suite of applications that covers nearly everything you can do with or to CDs and DVDs and their photo, audio, data, or video contents. Burning, backing up, transcoding video, editing audio–you name it, Creator does it.
The latest release has a revamped interface that refines the centralized application launcher found in the last few incarnations. The confusing list of application names has given way to a complete task-oriented menu, with clear labels such as ‘Create CDs’, ‘Create labels’, and ‘Play movies’. (The confusingly named ‘Plug’n Burn video cam to DVD’ is still there, however.) Creator 2009 still has a multitude of separate modules, but the modules now make it much easier to get where you need to go. Roxio plans to work more functionality directly into the launch application itself in future versions, but for now you get the same basic burn and copy function found in previous versions of Creator.
Depending on your focus, Creator 2009 may or may not be an exciting improvement. The Blu-ray plug-in adds AVCHD and BD-MV (including menus) support to the existing data and BD-AV support. It was a free incentive at the time of this writing, but will cost $30 when the offer expires at the end of September 2009. Audio book fans will like the new Audio Book Creator, which will convert CD and MP3 audio books into single files in the .m4b format, playable by Apple’s iTunes, iPod, and iPhone–with each chapter accessible under the top-level file name, as opposed to being individual files. The application will also download and incorporate the chapter info and cover art if it’s available online.
More of the suite’s applications now let you upload directly to YouTube. Plus, Roxio now offers its own online media-sharing service as a destination for your photos and videos (1GB free, 5GB for $40 per year).
The Beatmatching tool arranges the tunes on your audio projects according to tempo for smooth transitions, much as a good DJ does at a dance club (this feature relies on a little tempo adjustment as well). And the SyncIt application lets you drag and drop media for syncing with your phone, MP3 player, or other device. The package also contains new menu templates and numerous other improvements. All functioned as advertised in my hands-on testing.
For new users, Roxio Creator 2009 is a good deal, especially if you act on the limited time giveaway of the Blu-ray plug-in. The suite is massive (3GB of disk space is required) and a bit slow to switch between modules, but the look and the feel of the content it produces are excellent. For owners of previous Roxio packages, the question is murkier. Roxio has not announced any financial upgrade incentive, so you’re basically paying full freight again. If you already have Creator, take a close look to see whether Creator 2009 offers anything you urgently need. If not, wait for the next iteration.