DVDStyler 2.1 Review

very good
key review info
application features
  • drag and drop MPEG files directly
  • (8 more, see all...)

There was a time when people were preoccupied with DVD authoring, and I was one of them, trying to create more and more elaborated menus and covers. It became somehow a lot less important over the years, but after trying DVDStyler I feel the urge to start all over again.

Before going into details about DVDStyler, we must explain what DVD authoring actually is. It's the process of creating DVDs that can run in any DVD player, including software and hardware, according to a set of general specifications.

There are a lot of applications that can create DVDs, but creating the necessary menus with all the trinkets takes a lot more than a simple writing program.

I would even dare to say that creating menus is almost a skill, one in which I never quite excelled, but users will not be able to just pick it up and start creating complex and good DVDs. Some work is required, but the end result will be more than satisfactory.

Installation

The stable version of DVDStyler is 2.1 and the developer, Alex Thüring, is providing a source code package for users that feel the need to compile their own version.

Keep in mind that DVDStyler uses wxWidgets, a widget toolkit, and this package is also provided by the developer.

If you have a Debian-based distribution, things will go a lot easier. I've installed DVDStyler 2.1 right from the default software repositories. You can use Ubuntu Software Center or just enter the following commands in a terminal, one by one, hitting enter after each one:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install dvdstyler


Usage

As I said above, the software will require some knowledge in order to understand how things work, but DVDStyler is really easy to pick up. It has a clear interface and every function can be easily accessed. I'll enumerate some of its features, so that users can get a feel of its capabilities.

The first time DVDStyle is opened, it will present some options for a new project. These include the DVD label (the name that is shown when you put the DVD in a player), disk capacity (DVD, DVD dual layer, and unlimited capacity for Blu-Ray), and video quality (ranging from 2 MB/s to 8 MB/s).

Other important options are: Video Format (chose PAL and NTSC), Aspect Ratio (chose between 4:3 and 16:9), and the Audio Format, AC3 48 kHz and MP2 45kHz.

From here on, users can also check a default template or they can choose to have a blank start and work from scratch.

Then, users can choose to add video materials, music, other buttons, other backgrounds, import other backgrounds, and so on.

In addition, they are able to pick where the DVD will play by default when inserted into a DVD player. A disc can start right from the main menu or at the chapters.

DVDStyler supports many video formats and from the looks of it, there are quite a lot: DTS, MKV, AVI, H.264, and many others. It further brings support for a few types of video files I didn't even know they existed, such as Sierra SOL, NUT, MLP, and so on. A comprehensive list is provided by the developers.

The interface supports drag and drop, so everything can be placed right from the file browser, and buttons & movies can be moved with ease inside the project, as well.

Every object placed in the project can be further tweaked via a more complex menu that can be found by right-clicking the object in question and selecting properties.

This is where the work comes into play. It will take some time for users to learn all the smaller functions that can be performed, but this is the beauty of the program, it can also be used without having to go too much into details.

The Bad

I always start with the bad in a review, but the fact is that DVDStyler delivers exactly what it promises and nothing more. This is probably the only thing I can think of. I believe it could only benefit from an advanced mode and even some more features like animated buttons.

The Good

If you want something simple and fast, then DVDStyler is the software for you. Ii is not pretentious, it knows how to use multiple cores, it can be picked up by your grandparents and they would start churning out DVDs in an hour.

The available presets are all well and dandy, and they can be used in a number of various projects, as they are rather neutral. It imports MPEG files without re-encoding, and there is a bunch of other features making up this a great software.

Conclusion

Many people believe that the difference between a good piece of software and a bad one is the number of features it boasts, but DVDStyler is the proof that sometime fewer is better. It doesn't promise anything too complicated, but it's a great tool to make DVDs on the spot, a tool that I will use for sure in the future.


user interface 5
features 3
ease of use 5
pricing / value 5


final rating 4
Editor's review
very good
 
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