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Keeping it simple
Like other DVD-creation software programs, such as Pinnacle Express, MyDVD formats movies for both DVD and VideoCD, which use a standard CD-ROM format to show movies. Once you start the program, MyDVD's wizard screen immediately pops up and takes you through the DVD-creation process. Here, you'll select whether you want to burn a DVD or a VideoCD and which of the 26 preset menu styles you'll want to use. Next, you can import video clips from your hard drive or capture them from a camera using the video input on a graphics card or via FireWire.
If you're looking to create a uniquely styled DVD, MyDVD isn't for you--it's simply too rigid. This app lets you change the text style on a DVD menu, for example, but you can't reposition where that text is displayed on your menu screen. You can change the font you use on menu buttons, but you can't select different fonts for each button. (If you really crave nice, fancy buttons and menu styles, MyDVD includes a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop that lets you use Photoshop's text and layers features to spiff up menus, but it's a difficult process.) One plus is that version 4.0 makes it easy to add a movie to play behind your DVD menu; just click the Edit Style button, select Choose Background, and pick your movie.
Direct to DVD
MyDVD 4.0's most impressive tools are the Direct-To-DVD recording and slide-show modes. Using Direct-To-DVD, you can record video programming straight to a DVD without storing the video or audio data on your hard disk first--saving both storage space and time. If you don't need to edit your video or you just want to transfer videotape footage onto DVD, this process makes authoring a walk in the park. We also love the ability to add slide shows from a series of still images. MyDVD 4.0 gives you controls to select music to use with your slide show, and as a bonus, this app stores all your original, high-resolution digital images in a folder that you can access from any DVD-ROM computer drive.
Limited support and documentation
Despite these standout features, MyDVD stumbles badly on documentation and support. The MyDVD package comes in a DVD box with only a four-page quick-start guide inside; all other documentation is found online, including FAQs, a knowledge base, and a hyperlinked help screen inside the program. We found the support information itself surprisingly basic and often unhelpful. You can get tech support via phone, but it costs an amazing $30 per incident. By contrast, Dazzle DVD Complete offers 30 days of free technical support by phone.
A strong second place
MyDVD 4.0 offers features similar to most DVD-authoring programs on the market and some that are more unusual, including the slick Direct-To-DVD feature, Open DVD standard support, and the slide-show mode. If you're looking for a tool to archive video to DVDs, MyDVD 4.0 will do the trick. But turn to Dazzle DVD Complete for spiffier disc and label creation.