Roxio has been a busy shopper lately. After buying video-software company MGI and acquiring its top editing tool, VideoWave, the company purchased Germany's CeQuadrat and gained WinOnCD, a CD-burning program popular in Europe. The $49.95 WinOnCD is now available in the United States for the first time and is quite a departure from familiar, easy-to-use, feature-depleted programs such as Iomega HotBurn. WinOnCD is sometimes exceedingly hard to use, but it rewards your efforts with a level of customization not found in most CD-burning programs. Plus, it's cheaper than primary competitor Nero Burning ROM. If you're a dedicated hobbyist, brave the complexity and try WinOnCD. Stick with Nero for more familiar ground, however.
Roxio has been a busy shopper lately. After buying video-software company MGI and acquiring its top editing tool VideoWave, the company purchased Germany's CeQuadrat and gained WinOnCD, a CD-burning program popular in Europe. The $49.95 WinOnCD is now available in the United States for the first time and is quite a departure from familiar, easy-to-use, feature-depleted programs such as Iomega HotBurn. WinOnCD is sometimes exceedingly hard to use, but it rewards your efforts with a level of customization not found in most CD-burning programs. Plus, it's cheaper than primary competitor Nero Burning ROM. If you're a dedicated hobbyist, brave the complexity and try WinOnCD. Stick with Nero for more familiar ground, however.
Finding your way around
After you install WinOnCD--a quick and simple process--you'll find yourself at the program's welcome screen, which presents a variety of project options. WinOnCD has so many capabilities, in fact, that this screen is divided into six tabbed sections: Favorites, Data, Audio, Video, Copy, and Other. Each tab offers its own variety of options. For example, select the Audio tab to make a standard audio disc; then you choose between a disc with CD text; a CD Extra disc, which combines audio and data; an MP3 disc; or a Music Album, which contains compressed audio and can be played on PCs and some VideoCD/DVD players.
Aside from that first welcome screen, your setup tools are limited to a basic, onscreen wizard that guides new users through some of WinOnCD's more popular choices. You won't get any in-depth lessons, however, and you should read the included manual or you'll quickly become lost. The WinOnCD interface is cumbersome and inelegant, with way too many unclearly labeled buttons. We prefer Nero's look, which offers the same Windows Explorer-style navigation tree but with much more intuitive controls.
Data and music powerhouse
WinOnCD's clunky exterior belies its powerful tools. Its data disc creation is especially strong, supporting nearly every storage option you could want. We had no problem creating a multisession CD, in which data is stored over several different sessions; a DVD-ROM disc, which lets you back up more than 4GB of info to a single disc; and a PC-Mac hybrid disc. You can also use WinOnCD to create boot discs. A feature called Data OverSpan automatically breaks up files that are too large for one CD onto several discs--a useful tool that you won't find in Nero's burning app. You can also specify burning parameters to an amazingly granular degree. For example, you can tell WinOnCD to burn frequently accessed information to the middle of a CD, so your drive can access it more quickly than if the data were at the edges of the disc.
WinOnCD is equally versatile when it comes to creating music discs, although we occasionally found it difficult to locate the features we wanted. In addition to the types of music discs mentioned above, WinOnCD, like Nero, contains a sound editor that lets you trim and edit.
Video hits and misses
Despite all of those powerful tools, we were shocked that WinOnCD lacks the ability to burn video DVDs. WinOnCD can create VideoCDs (VCDs), Super VideoCDs (SVCDs), and slide show discs, but if you're making long movies, you're out of luck. For the record, however, main competitor Nero can't create VideoCD either.
SVCDs can support interactive menus, such as those on a DVD, and WinOnCD lets you create them--but not without a lot of trouble. (We had to get a product manager to help figure it out.) But once you get this feature working, WinOnCD creates amazingly customized menus: You can add full-motion backgrounds to your menus (as with Apple iMovie, except that you can choose your own background movie in WinOnCD), fully customize the placement and look of buttons, and designate the order in which your video clips play.
You won't have to call Germany for WinOnCD tech support--but only because the company doesn't offer telephone support at all. Instead, you get free e-mail support for a stingy 90-day period that can be initiated anytime during your first year of purchase. Roxio's Web site also includes some driver downloads and a FAQ.
Only for the dedicated
WinOnCD is definitely not a mainstream burning app. If you want to make only data and music CDs, try Click N Burn Pro or, for powerful tools and an easier interface, stick with Nero. If you want to make videos but don't know DV from AVI, consider VideoWave Movie Creator. But if you're ready to get intimate with a manual, WinOnCD buries plenty of power and impressive tools for you to dig out.
WinOnCD's screen is usually divided into four sections: the top left and right panes show a Windows Explorer interface, displaying the files on your system. The bottom left shows the project you're working on, with the specific project files on the lower right.