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A triumph of simplicity
Once you install the software, you'll be treated to a simple, intuitive interface. For example, you click Preview to sneak a peek at a DVD. The interface looks plain-Jane, which is a welcome change from past versions', where plus and minus symbols or palette icons often obscured functionality. The new simplicity will save you some headaches, because NeoDVD includes weak help and documentation. The company also charges for phone support and provides only a skimpy online FAQ.
Once you're ready to create a video, just import or capture the video files you want from a disc or an attached FireWire camera. NeoDVD's easy editing tools let you crop out certain segments of video and create up to six chapters to use in your final DVD--nothing more. Once you've performed this limited editing, either choose your DVD menu format from NeoDVD's 15 menu backgrounds and 11 screen backgrounds or import your own BMP files to customize the software's somewhat bland offerings. Next, set your video format (NTSC or PAL) and your disc format (DVD, VideoCD, or a newly added format called DVD+VR), and you've begun.
Format-specific editing tools
NeoDVD's new DVD+VR format offers interesting editing possibilities for DVD+RW drive owners. Create a DVD disc in this format, and you can later modify its contents by adding a new clip, changing the menu background, or revising any of the selections that you'd previously used. Ordinarily, you can do that for any DVD+RW disc because it's rewritable, but this option improves that process. You can edit far more quickly because NeoDVD doesn't erase or rewrite any existing DVD+VR footage--it simply adds in the new material. That's a huge time-saver, and it also means that you don't need to keep original files on your hard disk.
NeoDVD generally burns DVDs quickly, with top-quality results. We created a DVD from three 42-minute MPEG-encoded clips, amounting to approximately 2.3GB for a total finished DVD file size of 3.8GB, in just less than an hour (52:40) using a 1X Panasonic LF-D311 internal IDE drive. With a 2.4X Sony DRU120A DVD+RW FireWire drive, the process took just 21:15. (Our test machine was a 2.2GHz Pentium 4 system with 128MB of RAM and a 100GB ATA/100 hard disk.)
We have a few quibbles, such as the wildly inaccurate file-size estimator that told us we were making a 7.2GB DVD from our 3.8GB files. It's best to create an image of your DVD on your hard disk first so that you can verify the size, then use NeoDVD's DVD copying utility to transfer it to a disc. MedioStream also imposes an amazingly restrictive eight-character disc-naming limit. NeoDVD limits disc-menu and filename sizes to 18 characters--a more workable situation but certainly not ideal.
Irritants aside, NeoDVD offers solid tools for the novice or intermediate user on a budget. If you're looking to create DVDs from raw or previously edited footage, NeoDVD Standard 4.0 will do nicely. This version is leagues beyond Standard 2.5 and a must-have upgrade from NeoDVD 2.5 or 3.0 Plus because it's much simpler to use and easier to understand.