German software publisher Nero has taken the wraps off of Nero 9, the latest iteration of its eponymous software suite. The 2008 version featured a revamped interface. In addition to CD and DVD burning, version 9 includes a wide range of functions, including video editing and transcoding, DVD authoring, media streaming, and file backup.
Among the major improvements that Nero is highlighting:
Improved Nero StartSmart: Once a glorified program launcher, the latest version of StartSmart is more of a central control for the entire Nero suite that's designed to be easier for newbie users.
Enhanced format/codec support: FLAC (lossless audio), Matoska video (.mkv), and AVCHD is now supported.
Ad Spotter:The software can automatically identify and remove commercials from recorded TV programs.
Music Grabber: Rip the sound track from any video clip.
Movie Wizard: Theme-based editor for home videos includes preconfigured transitions and music for events such as weddings, birthdays, and vacations.
Nero Live: TV viewing application for use with PCs with built-in TV tuners.
Auto Backup: Nero will allow transparent backup of selected files and folders to add-on hard drives or (for an additional fee) the company's own online storage service.
Nero 9 will be available soon for $100 (shrink-wrapped retail box) or $80 (direct download). Owners of the most recent Nero version will be eligible for a 20 percent to 35 percent discount from those prices. We'll report back with more after we test the software.