Professional-Looking DVDs Made by Unprofessionals

very good
key review info
application features
  • Create DVD from RM, RMVB, Asf, Wmv, Avi, Divx, Mpeg, Vob files.
  • (8 more, see all...)

We've all seen those DVDs made by a friend of a friend of a friend who apparently passes as one of the most technical pals of that friend of a friend of a friend. The truth is that creating your own DVD indeed used to be a job for the professionals, as the tools employed in the process used to be a tad tougher to subdue to your will. And, at the beginning, few were those that managed to finish such a project without a headache.

But with the increasing popularity of the DVD, all sorts of software popped on the market providing a simplified approach to creating your own DVDs complete with menus, chapters and all there was to them. WinX DVD Author has been developed for the less technical user that needs a straightforward interface and few options in order to carry out the job. The application's field of activity extends to creating a DVD-video (5 or 9) from multiple popular video formats, converting video to VOB, creating menus from VOB data and burning every work of yours to a disc.

WinX DVD Author has turned to another version and still preserves the same price as ever, $29.90. The restrictions of the demo prevent you from converting more than five minutes of each video you add, there will be a watermark on the output result and the nag screen will remind you right before starting an important operation that you're not using the registered version.

Since the last version review, little has changed in the interface and the main structure is basically the same. The application shows from the beginning the possibilities it provides and all you have to do is take your pick in order to carry through the chosen job.

Making your own DVD out of various video files is far from being rocket science. There are little options present, but this does not mean that the app lacks flexibility. For the average user, it has the exact amount of options and settings, keeping everything nice and simple. There isn't a function in the first screen of DVD Author three-step wizard that can go unnoticed from a first glance. From the beginning, you have to choose the type of DVD you want to create (DVD 5 or DVD 9) and, as you add the videos, keep your eyes on the DVD filling bar. This first screen allows you to set the start and end time for each loaded video, enable the creating of a DVD menu, or select the aspect ratio. Additionally, there is the possibility of taking a snapshot of a video frame, which can be saved as JPG or BMP.

Configuring the software's default settings is done from this window as well. The few options present allow for selecting the preset aspect ratio, DVD format (NTSC or PAL), the DVD menu duration and safe distance, as well as the language. More options relate to subtitles, which can be of a different size, character set and language code. The third part of the Settings menu refers to the burner. The settings here are already good and you should tamper with them only if you know what you are doing.

Moving to the next step of creating a DVD, you will have the opportunity to choose a background for the titles, either from the ones available in the application or one of your own from a picture stored locally. Any of the titles added can be moved around the screen and sorted in the order you deem right. There is also the chapter menu to deal with, which lets you automatically split a video into multiple chapters.

The text can be an element of the title menu as well. For making it as personal as you want, there is the possibility to change the font, its style, size, or color. Needless to say, it can be positioned anywhere in the screen, just like the titles before.

To make it complete, WinX DVD Author permits personalizing the menu by adding a soundtrack of your choice. On the downside, during our tests, on the output result, the audio added did not play till the end, but got stuck at a point and then repeated. Multiple tests revealed the same glitch in the output result. It would have been great if the audio track played till the end or until choosing one of the elements on the screen.

The final options are storing the entire project on the computer or burning it directly to a DVD. A dialog window will pop up, letting you choose between the two options.

Converting video to VOB files is a process similar to the previous one described here, only some steps have been cut off. You can still view the fill level of the DVD and select between single and double layer discs, as well as define the start and end times of the selected video. In this case, there is no burning option and all data is saved on the hard disk.

VOB to DVD compiler is the exact same thing as Video DVD Author menu, only in this case the video file formats supported are restricted to VOBs. Other than this, everything is exactly the same.

The last menu of the application is burning DVDs. Nothing fancy or complicated awaits, just a simple menu where you add the videos and proceed to the burn customization options. These include labeling the disc and choosing the write speed. That is about it.

The Good

WinX DVD Author is easy to manipulate by the average user and novices won't have trouble working with it either. The three-step wizard does not feature complicated options and allows you to add an audio track to play in the menu.

Trimming the videos to the times you want as well as the possibility to change the menu background and select a frame in the video as thumb are options that add value to the application.

The Bad

The lackluster of the interface is not compliant with the upcoming Windows 7. Also, there are differences in showing the version name of the application: in the splash-screen, it is 5.5, while the main window and the About section of the software read 6.0.

Adding more options, such as the possibility of creating a slideshow and make a DVD out of it, would fit great with the ease of use, DVD menu creation and DVD burning capabilities.

The track added in the menu does not play too long in the final result. In fact, it stops almost as soon as it begins.

The Truth

WinX DVD Author has not yet reached the maturity necessary for such sofware. But it’s getting there. A wider list of options combined with more attention to details and more thorough testing would increase the value of the application exponentially.

The price is not among the best on the market, especially when most software vendors have operated discounts, either on account of the current recession or just as part of a spring promotion.

Read our previous review

Here are some snapshots of the application in action:

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user interface 4
features 3
ease of use 4
pricing / value 4


final rating 4
Editor's review
very good
 
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