321 Studios DVD Xtreme

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321 Studios DVD Xtreme
Though it shows some potential, DVD Xtreme is no competition for mature CD/DVD software suites from Nero and Roxio.

When a judge forced 321 Studios to remove DVD X Copy's ability to break commercial DVDs' CSS copy protection, the company responded with a line of ripper-free versions. The new versions, no longer able to copy commercial movies, were vastly overpriced and relatively useless. Since then, 321 Studios has decided to fold the less-expensive DVD X Copy Xpress RF into a broader suite of DVD and media utilities -- DVD Xtreme -- and sell it for US$99.

Though DVD Xtreme offers a number of useful features -- it can copy nonprotected DVDs and rip and play CDs -- it can't really compete with mature suites such as Ahead Software's Nero 6.0 Ultra, Roxio's Easy Media Creator 7.0, and Pinnacle System's Instant CD/DVD 8.0. Some of DVD Xtreme's components, such as the DVD X Maker movie-authoring program, show potential, but despite the hype on 321's Web site, even newcomers such as Newsoft's PowerDVD Suite and Ulead's DVD MovieFactory offer a better value overall. And to reiterate: DVD Xtreme cannot copy commercial DVDs.

Installing 321 Studios DVD Xtreme is a simple affair that takes about 10 minutes. Run the setup program, reboot, enter your serial number and password, and you're good to go. A full installation takes approximately 131MB of drive space, but you should have about 10GB of additional free space for authoring movies.

For the most part, DVD Xtreme is straightforward and easy to use. A launch application provides descriptions and access to the individual apps, and we found all the components fairly intuitive. Still, we wish that some of the applications were more tightly integrated. A couple of the components, CD X Rescue and Image X Rescue in particular, are so simple that they should be combined or folded within other applications; switching from one application to another to perform related chores is tedious.

DVD X Copy's raison d'être was to back up commercial movies, and DVD Xtreme can't do that. In its present form, it can't really compete with other comparably priced suites such as Nero's rock-solid 6.0 Ultra or Roxio's extremely full-featured Easy Media Creator 7.0. In fact, DVD Xtreme's nine components range from weak to quite competent.

The first, DVD X Copy Express RF, is a ripper-free version of DVD X Copy that can copy and shrink larger movies onto a single disc. However, it can't split larger DVD files onto multiple discs, and more importantly, it can't copy CSS-encoded commercial movie discs.

Burn X Press, the suite's program for burning data CD/DVDs and audio CDs, is fairly competent and lets you create autorun menus that pop up when a disc is placed in a drive. Still, it lacks advanced features, and you cannot use it to create video CDs or DVDs. Audio X Tools, provided to encode WAV files to MP3s, offers primitive recording and audio-editing abilities, as well as an application for organizing audio files and burning audio CDs. Its best feature is that it shows up in Windows' context menus; simply right-click a music file, and the pop-up menu will include an option to encode it to MP3 using Audio X Tools.

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CD X Rescue is included so that you can repair CDs. However, not having any CDs that we couldn't fix by cleaning, we were unable to test how effective it is. Take note that 321 Studios did not include its DVD X Rescue application (because it contained a ripper), so you can't use DVD Xtreme to repair DVDs.

Snapshot X Press is a decent little app for editing photos. It supports a variety of file types and offers an adequate assortment of basic tools -- but Photoshop it ain't. DVD X Show, one of the suite's better components, can create CD and DVD photo slide shows. It offers a storyboard layout, some special transition effects, and rudimentary photo-editing options. But there's no time-line view, and performance was extremely sluggish, even on our superfast Athlon 64 3200+ system.

The suite's most powerful component is its DVD-authoring app, DVD X Maker. It has easy-to-use wizards and can import a wide variety of file types. It also features a unique file-tree view for projects, menus, and media and will even let you freely place text and menu buttons -- a really nice feature. While we found DVD X Maker's interface and work flow a bit counterintuitive in spots, it's still the best program in the suite.

Image X Rescue fooled us big-time. Its name implies that it has something to do with image files, but it's really a file unerase program -- go figure. In any event, it works; we were able to restore a recent deletion.

Also included is Label X Press, a licensed, limited version of SureThing's competent CD Labeler. It allows freeform placement of pictures and text and prints both disc labels and a jewel-case insert spine. However, it will not print full jewel-case inserts, and it doesn't let you use Windows fonts; you're stuck with the seven included fonts unless you upgrade the program for US$24.95 at SureThing's Web site. Ouch.

321 Studios offers tech support via e-mail, and its Web site hosts a FAQ and some user forums.

321 Studios DVD Xtreme
Company: 321 Studios
Price: US$99.99 via download

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Category creativity application
Subcategory creativity - graphics & image editing, creativity - video editing & production
Package Type retail
Distribution Media CD-ROM
Software
Subcategory creativity - graphics & image editing, creativity - video editing & production
Category creativity application
License Type box pack
Min Supported Color Depth 24-bit (16.7 million colors)
License Category shrinkwrap
System Requirements
OS Required Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition, Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition
OS Family Windows
Additional Requirements graphics card
Header
Brand 321 Studios
Product Line DVD X Treme
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
System Requirements Details
Processor Type Pentium III
Processor Speed 500 Hz
Min RAM Size 128 MB
Min Hard Drive Space 20 GB

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