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iDVD 2.0 review:

iDVD 2.0

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The Good Easy to use; supports moving buttons and backgrounds; makes slide shows from still images.

The Bad Doesn't transfer or edit footage; doesn't create submenus for links to particular scenes; works only on Apple computers equipped with SuperDrives; requires OS X 10.1.

The Bottom Line iDVD is the best choice for Macintosh owners who want to burn DVDs for home use, but it's not full featured enough for professional users, and there's no version for the PC.

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CNET Editors' Rating

7.0 Overall

Review Sections

With its attractively designed, full-motion templates, iDVD 2.0 can help novices create polished-looking DVDs with little effort. The program's iCandy (our little joke--har, har) is so dazzling and its low $20 price so tempting, we wish Apple would beef up the app's wimpy features so that we could recommend it more enthusiastically. The program integrates flawlessly with Apple iMovie--a free app--so you can edit footage and easily import it, but we'd like to see all these features in one app. iDVD 2.0 remains the top choice for the few users equipped with Apple SuperDrives, but PC owners shouldn't go Aqua with envy because several decent apps are available for PCs. With its attractively designed, full-motion templates, iDVD 2.0 can help novices create polished-looking DVDs with little effort. The program's iCandy (our little joke--har, har) is so dazzling and its low $20 price so tempting, we wish Apple would beef up the app's wimpy features so that we could recommend it more enthusiastically. The program integrates flawlessly with Apple iMovie--a free app--so you can edit footage and easily import it, but we'd like to see all these features in one app. iDVD 2.0 remains the top choice for the few users equipped with Apple SuperDrives, but PC owners shouldn't go Aqua with envy because several decent apps are available for PCs.

Stuck on your camera again
If you shot camcorder footage yourself, you won't be able to work with iDVD 2.0 immediately; you'll need to use iMovie or another editing program first. That's because iDVD doesn't transfer footage from digital cameras, as do programs such as DVD MovieFactory, and it doesn't provide even basic editing tools. Thankfully, iMovie is free and comes preloaded on every new Mac, so editing is a small hurdle. When you're done transferring and editing with iMovie, export your clips for iDVD use (an option built into iMovie), and you'll be all set.

iDVD doesn't come with a manual but includes a fine onscreen tutorial that walks new users through all the steps of DVD creation. In just 15 minutes, we knew all there was to know about the program.

Menus that move
Apple excels at visual polish, and iDVD 2.0 is no exception. We love its intuitive layout, and the stellar looks translate to your finished product. The program includes 14 menu templates, many of which feature moving backgrounds--that is, video images that repeat, such as waves beating against a tropical shore. You'll find templates appropriate for vacation memories, business reports, wedding albums, or baby photos. While they're attractive, we'd like more variety (MovieFactory offers 38 templates, by contrast). To select one of the 14 templates, press the Template button on the bottom left of the iDVD screen. A window slides out from the left, showing all the templates and their categories. Tabs at the top of this window, Customize and Status, let you change titles, fonts, and other elements and display all the movie files used in your DVD project.

Surprisingly, there's no way to make submenus that let viewers go directly to particular scenes within a clip. If you're looking for more professional menus and features, you'll have to turn to Apple's high-end product, DVD Studio Pro (at a whopping price of $999.99).

Along with animated backgrounds, iDVD 2.0 lets you easily create animated buttons on your menus. When you add a video clip, you automatically create a button showing the first frame of that clip. Click the button, and controls appear above it that let you animate the button by looping a set amount of the clip. You can also choose a certain frame of the clip to use as a static button image. Oddly, iDVD offers no menu for importing sound and image files that you might want to use as menu background, so you'll have to drag them from their original locations to insert them--an awkward process. iDVD 2.0 also creates slide shows that you can burn onto disc or display as moving backgrounds on your DVD menu. The slide shows are a nice touch that neither MovieFactory nor NeoDVD offers.

Simple burning
Once you're done editing, click the Preview button in the lower right corner to sample your DVD; it lets you pretend you're a real viewer by "testing" your menu with an onscreen DVD remote. Cute. You simply go back to edit mode to make any changes, and, when you're satisfied, insert a blank DVD-R disc and click the Burn button. iDVD provides background MPEG encoding so that you can keep working on other projects while it's parsing long files.

Hardware headaches
Unfortunately, no matter how well iDVD might work, it's a curse for Mac owners who already own external DVD-R drives. That's because iDVD 2.0, like its predecessor, works only with internal SuperDrives, Apple's CD-R/RW/DVD-R combination drives. The drives are currently available only on desktop G4s and the high-end, flat-screen iMac, an expensive proposition any way you slice it. We're hoping for a third-party workaround, but for now, you must upgrade to use iDVD. Of course, you'll have to upgrade your OS, too: iDVD 2.0 works only with OS X 10.1 or higher.

If you already have the drive and the OS, iDVD 2.0 will set you back just $19.95, for shipping and handling. The price is about right, too. iDVD 2.0 isn't the most powerful DVD-creation tool we've seen, but it's easily the prettiest. Mac users can't go wrong in giving it a try.

Press the Themes button in the lower left corner, and a shelf opens from the left, showing the various themes. Tabs at the top of this shelf let you customize onscreen elements, such as buttons and fonts, and see a list of all movie clips used in your project.

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