If SmartDisk MVP had a packet-writing capability instead of being able only to record data using the disc-at-once method, we'd say this CD-authoring program has it all. This lack is a considerable drawback for those who record files to CD-RWs incrementally. However, if you don't see packet writing in your future and just want an easy-to-use program for burning music, videos, and photos to disc, SmartDisk MVP is more than up to the task.If SmartDisk MVP had a packet-writing capability instead of being able only to record data using the disc-at-once method, we'd say this CD-authoring program has it all. This lack is a considerable drawback for those who record files to CD-RWs incrementally. However, if you don't see packet writing in your future and just want an easy-to-use program for burning music, videos, and photos to disc, SmartDisk MVP is more than up to the task.
The electronic librarian
Before you begin to burn, MVP helps you organize your files. As a file librarian, SmartDisk emphasizes ease of use. You can collect four types of media: photos, music, videos, and a mixed category that matches music with photos for one-click slide shows. Just drag and drop the files to create virtual albums. You can also have the program monitor specific directories and incorporate any new downloaded multimedia files.
MVP's librarian features provide convenient access to your multimedia files, but the program really starts to shine when you get to its CD-authoring features. Once you've organized your music, video, and photo files (hence the name, MVP), it's only natural to want to copy them to disc. In addition to copying audio files to standard CDs, the software lets you burn VideoCDs, which can be played in any DVD player that supports VideoCD 2.0. SmartDisk MVP doesn't create DVDs, though. Only Roxio Toast, for the Mac, has that option.
A CD-saving snafu
Beginners will appreciate the jargon-free wizards, which step you through the process of creating CDs for video, music, MP3s, date, or slide shows. However, experienced users may decry the lack of a packet-writing program. SmartDisk MVP supports only the disc-at-once recording method, which means you can't write some files now and other files later. If you have any files on a CD-RW disc, those files will be erased before the recording begins. This is a serious omission; other CD-authoring programs, such as Click'N Burn Pro and Nero Burning ROM 5.0, allow incremental copying on rewritable CD-RW discs.
The rest of the software bundle is strong and includes a copy of PowerDVD, which lets you play back VideoCDs on your PC. The bundled photo-editing program, FotoCanvas, has an excellent assortment of editing tools (including a lasso, a magic wand, an eyedropper, and an airbrush), but it has a limited selection of filters. Its few filters are geared for photo touch-up (such as red-eye reduction and despeckle). Overall, FotoCanvas is easy to use but not as quite powerful as Photoshop LE or similar photo editors. Also present are Neato's CD labeling kit and two blank CD-RW discs.
The Easy CD Creator VideoCD is similar to the one from SmartDisk MVP in that each will play on a DVD player and a DVD-ROM drive. The photo-to-CD option in Easy CD does not create a DVD-player-compatible slide show. It creates a data disc with the photo files and adds a 265K Windows slide show program. By contrast, SmartDisk creates a photo-based VideoCD that can run as a slide show on many DVD players.
Watch your wallet
While SmartDisk MVP is in some ways easier to use than Click'N Burn or Roxio Easy CD Creator, but it's also less powerful and has fewer features than either of those. And keep in mind that Click'N Burn does allow incremental saves and is quite a bit cheaper. Consider SmartDisk MVP if you think you might prefer its tightly integrated librarian or the included bonus programs. But for high-end Windows users, we recommend Click'N Burn Pro.