There's little doubt that in the digital multimedia suite space, there's an arms race going on. At the turn of the decade, it was enough for companies such as Roxio, Nero and their ilk to just offer a simple optical disc burning solution; if you were lucky, you might get some kind of MP3 ripping/re-encoding utility thrown in for laughs.
That's in stark contrast to the massive media suites that are on offer today, and few come with meatier options than Roxio's Easy Media Creator Suite 10. It isn't even easy to list all of the applications that install: BackOnTrack, CinePlayer, Creator Classic, Label Creator, Media Manager, Music Disc Creator, MyDVD, PhotoSuite, Sound Editor, Video Copy & Convert, VideoWave, Audio Converter, Audio Tag Editor, AutoMix, CineMagic, Create Panoramas, DVD Music Assistant, Disc Image Loader, LP and Tape Assistant, Media Import, Multi Photo Enhance and finally MyDVD Express.
Within that little lot, you're bound to find one or two applications that should suit your multimedia needs and presumably if you're looking at a suite, more than one. On a purely fiscal note, if each application were of equal worth to you, you'd be looking at AU$7.22 per application, which is pretty cheap in our books.
Installation of Roxio Easy Media Creator 10 was fundamentally simple, but even on a high-end PC, remarkably slow. Don't look to install Roxio Easy Media Creator 10 if you need some encoding done quickly; instead we'd suggest a short walk in a nearby park. The sunlight (in moderation) will do you good.
Like most suites, Roxio Easy Media Creator 10 comes with a central command console -- labeled just as the Roxio Easy Media Creator 10 Suite -- which gives you access to all the applications and utilities, as well as a simplified, task-driven interface based around either media types or frequently used tasks. It's also entirely possible to launch each application by itself if the guided Suite approach doesn't suit your needs.
With so many different sub-applications, it's a tough call to give an overall assessment, especially given the wide range of applications on offer. No doubt the basics -- especially video editing -- will appeal most to many purchasers, and in the wide pantheon of consumer video applications, Roxio Easy Media Creator 10 stacks up well, with plenty of easy to use predefined templates and a nice wizard-driven interface for timid users.
As with most Windows consumer video editing software, we also encountered the odd bit of instability with the Roxio Easy Media Creator 10 package. Sometimes this was just a program component that would flash up a splash screen, only to vanish forevermore. More annoyingly, we did attempt to render a few files to DVD, only to have the package lock up mid-encode, after more than an hour's rendering time. As always with Windows -- and seemingly even more so with Windows Vista -- it's tough to say if this was an application or an operating system problem, as it took the system down with it. At the end of the day, though, our encoding didn't work and we'd wasted some time.
There are also some pitfalls present in having so many programs available; until you're aware of the differences between, say CineMagic and VideoWave, you might pick an application that either lacks the features you're looking for, or is pitched either at novices or experts, leaving you annoyed or in the dark respectively. It's also worth noting that Roxio Easy Media Creator 10's Blu-Ray/HD-DVD support only extends to data backup; it can neither play back nor create high definition video discs for external playback. We were also rather annoyed that for something that pitches itself as a "suite", there's often not much interplay between individual applications.