Iomega HotBurn may never win against its high-powered opponents (such as Roxio Toast or Click'N Burn), but it's a worthy contender nonetheless. In fact, this CD-creation tool is perfect for those who want to perform only the most basic tasks, without clutter or superfluous tools. With HotBurn, you can copy CDs, burn music CDs, and back up data, all in a clear, no-brainer interface. But for about $10 or $20 more, Click'N Burn offers the advanced features that experienced CD makers need.Iomega HotBurn may never win against its high-powered opponents (such as Roxio Toast or Click'N Burn), but it's a worthy contender nonetheless. In fact, this CD-creation tool is perfect for those who want to perform only the most basic tasks, without clutter or superfluous tools. With HotBurn, you can copy CDs, burn music CDs, and back up data, all in a clear, no-brainer interface. But for about $10 or $20 more, Click'N Burn offers the advanced features that experienced CD makers need.
The CD-burning basics
If nothing else, HotBurn is fun to use. It has a jazzy look and even comes with a second skin for those who crave variety. (Iomega plans to release more skins soon on the company Web site.) Run HotBurn for the first time, and it begins a two-minute diagnostic test to determine your computer's capabilities. Once done, HotBurn is ready to go. On the right edge of the screen, click the button that corresponds to the task you want to perform: make a music disc or a data disc or copy a CD. Depending on which task you choose, related options appear in the uncomplicated HotBurn interface, making it crystal-clear which functions you'll need to use.
In fact, HotBurn has one of the most straightforward, easy-to-follow interfaces we've seen, so it's a snap to burn a CD. To create a music or data CD, for example, choose the files you want to record, then arrange them in the order you desire. Click the Add button to add files or folders. Drag them on the list to put them in the order you want. When you finish creating a list, press the Create CD button to make the disc. (Like Click'N Burn Pro, HotBurn can't read WMA files recorded with Windows Media Player 7.0 or later, but HotBurn reps haven't yet told us if they plan to release a fix.)
Unfortunately, no matter how much material you're copying, HotBurn pops up an alarming message announcing that all the data may not fit on the disc, then asks if you want to proceed. This message appears even when the material will easily fit.
Video? What video?
HotBurn's biggest drawback is that it doesn't let you burn CDs into a large variety of formats. Unlike Toast and Click'N Burn, this program can't create MP3 discs that let you store 10 hours of music on a single disc (other formats let CDs hold a maximum of 77 minutes of music). Likewise, the program doesn't create video CDs or DVDs. Both Toast and Click'N Burn create video CDs, but only Toast can make DVDs.
Slap a label on it
Thankfully, HotBurn does ships with CD Label Designer, which makes it easy to design and print out CD labels and jewel case covers. There is no label designer in HotBurn's Macintosh version, alas, and there's no price difference either. As a result, HotBurn isn't much of a value for Mac fans. And, unlike higher-end label makers, such as the one that ships with Click'N Burn Pro, CD Label Designer doesn't offer a variety of label shapes for differently shaped jewel cases.
A starter CD maker
Although this basic program won't work for anyone who burns CDs all day, every day, there's a lot to be said for HotBurn. It takes almost no time to learn and presents CD-creation options in a clear and stylish way. If you're a novice and want to spend more time burning discs and less time reading a manual, HotBurn may be the product for you. More experienced CD burners should try Click'N Burn or Roxio Toast.