Sonic MyDVD Plus 4.0 review: Sonic MyDVD Plus 4.0

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Sonic MyDVD Plus 4.0

(Part #: CNETMYDVDPLUS4)
3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Interface is easy to use; lets you record video straight to DVD; can turn still images into slide shows or save them as high-resolution images; imports multiple digital video formats.

The Bad Limited DVD menu-design capabilities; poor documentation; expensive tech support.

The Bottom Line Sonic MyDVD is easy to use and includes some nice extras for getting video onto DVD. But get Dazzle DVD Complete for better built-in design and editing features.

7.0 Overall

Sonic Solutions' Sonic MyDVD 4.0 uses nearly the same video-encoding technology as the company's line of high-end DVD-creation software, but thanks to some drastically reduced features, MyDVD sets you back just $79. The software lets you import video clips, create a simple DVD menu (for navigation between scenes), then burn your videos to a DVD. MyDVD 4.0 adds some new features, including motion menus, which give you the ability to play videos behind your DVD menu buttons, and still-image slide shows. This version even includes a few extra menu-design tools. Unfortunately, the program's limited tools and expensive tech support hamper its potential; you can get far more for a similar price from Dazzle DVD Complete. Sonic Solutions' Sonic MyDVD 4.0 uses nearly the same video-encoding technology as the company's line of high-end DVD-creation software, but thanks to some drastically reduced features, MyDVD sets you back just $79. The software lets you import video clips, create a simple DVD menu (for navigation between scenes), then burn your videos to a DVD. MyDVD 4.0 adds some new features, including motion menus, which give you the ability to play videos behind your DVD menu buttons, and still-image slide shows. This version even includes a few extra menu-design tools. Unfortunately, the program's limited tools and expensive tech support hamper its potential; you can get far more for a similar price from Dazzle DVD Complete.

Keeping it simple
Like other DVD-creation software programs, such as Pinnacle Express, MyDVD formats movies for both DVD and VideoCD, which use a standard CD-ROM format to show movies. Once you start the program, MyDVD's wizard screen immediately pops up and takes you through the DVD-creation process. Here, you'll select whether you want to burn a DVD or a VideoCD and which of the 26 preset menu styles you'll want to use. Next, you can import video clips from your hard drive or capture them from a camera using the video input on a graphics card or via FireWire.

If you're looking to create a uniquely styled DVD, MyDVD isn't for you--it's simply too rigid. This app lets you change the text style on a DVD menu, for example, but you can't reposition where that text is displayed on your menu screen. You can change the font you use on menu buttons, but you can't select different fonts for each button. (If you really crave nice, fancy buttons and menu styles, MyDVD includes a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop that lets you use Photoshop's text and layers features to spiff up menus, but it's a difficult process.) One plus is that version 4.0 makes it easy to add a movie to play behind your DVD menu; just click the Edit Style button, select Choose Background, and pick your movie.

Direct to DVD
MyDVD 4.0's most impressive tools are the Direct-To-DVD recording and slide-show modes. Using Direct-To-DVD, you can record video programming straight to a DVD without storing the video or audio data on your hard disk first--saving both storage space and time. If you don't need to edit your video or you just want to transfer videotape footage onto DVD, this process makes authoring a walk in the park. We also love the ability to add slide shows from a series of still images. MyDVD 4.0 gives you controls to select music to use with your slide show, and as a bonus, this app stores all your original, high-resolution digital images in a folder that you can access from any DVD-ROM computer drive.

Limited support and documentation
Despite these standout features, MyDVD stumbles badly on documentation and support. The MyDVD package comes in a DVD box with only a four-page quick-start guide inside; all other documentation is found online, including FAQs, a knowledge base, and a hyperlinked help screen inside the program. We found the support information itself surprisingly basic and often unhelpful. You can get tech support via phone, but it costs an amazing $30 per incident. By contrast, Dazzle DVD Complete offers 30 days of free technical support by phone.

A strong second place
MyDVD 4.0 offers features similar to most DVD-authoring programs on the market and some that are more unusual, including the slick Direct-To-DVD feature, Open DVD standard support, and the slide-show mode. If you're looking for a tool to archive video to DVDs, MyDVD 4.0 will do the trick. But turn to Dazzle DVD Complete for spiffier disc and label creation.

Sonic MyDVD 4.0 now lets you play video behind the menu buttons, add a soundtrack to your DVD menu, and even create a slide show from still images. But sadly, you still can't reposition individual elements on the DVD menu without using an Adobe Photoshop plug-in.

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