SoftwareDisc burning software
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NCH Express Burn Review
No fuss disc burning
Part of comprehensive suite
Lack of security options
If you’re looking for a basic disc burning package then NCH Express Burn Plus won’t let you down. For those who are more demanding there are plenty of additional extras available in the suite to satisfy your hunger.
NCH Express Burn Plus is part of a suite of utilities by NCH. We were keen to see how good this program was individually and how well it performed its core functionality of being able to burn discs.
The install starts with the usual requirement to agree to terms, though then gets more complicated as you’re confronted with a page of Related Programs and Extras. There are 4 options, with the first 3 being trials of related software provided by NCH. These are WavePad Audio Editor (which is a sound editor for modifying audio files), Express Rip CD Ripper (which allows you to rip audio files form a CD), Prism Video File Converter (which as you might expect converts videos file formats from one type to another). The 4th options (and the only one pre-selected) is NCH Software Internet Browser Toolbar (which as well as adding quick links to NCH software programs also includes a load of other feature you may, or may not, want).
Once NCH Express Burn Plus is installed you get a help file appear with General usage guidelines on it for creating the 4 main different types of disc (audio for CD player, mp3, data and video). Each of these 4 links leads to a step-by-step guide to using the software to create the chosen disc.
The program itself consists of a graphic menu bar across the top listing the main options; Audio CD, Data CD, Data DVD, Video DVD and Data Blu-ray, as well as copy Disc.
Selecting your choice, for example Audio CD, you have to confirm the drive you’re going to write to and are advised to add the appropriate media. You then get a set of buttons to add files, add folder, edit with WavePad (if installed) and set CD-Text, to help you name the tracks. Audio CD burner supports wav, mp3, wma, au, aiff, ra, ogg, flac, aac and a number of other audio file formats.
Adding files opens a file browser window so you can find the appropriate files on your computer. You need to Control/click or Shift/click to select multiple files at once which is familiar to most people but isn’t as user-friendly as drag-and-drop between windows (which is possible for some file formats from a Windows folder). To remove files you need to right click and select delete.
You can change disc type at any time with incompatible files being flagged up and removed (e.g. changing from an audio disc to a video disc will result in the audio tracks being removed from the source file list for burning).
For Data discs you also have the option to choose the File System you require, from ISO+Joliet, Hybrid and UDF.
For a DVD Video you have the option to configure the Encoder Settings for TV System (NTSC or PAL) and Quality settings with the ability here to use high and medium pre-sets or customize the max and average video bit rate and audio bit rate (as well as select Two Pass Encoding or Interlaced Video). You can also choose your aspect ratio (16:9 or 4:3). Video burning supports .avi, .mpg, .vob, .asf, .wmv, .mp4, .ogm and all video formats that have a DirectShow based codec.
Blu-ray support is limited with only the option of a Data Blue-ray disc.
For all discs the Burn button is at the bottom right and pops up a window to allow you to confirm burner drive, select write speed and determine the number of copies to make. You can also create/write ISO disc images, and copy discs.
There is no in-built security functionality in this software.
NCH Express Burn Plus is part of the expanded suite of NCH software, which are all interconnected and cross sold. At all times you are encouraged to install additional utilities which are all reasonably priced and add to the overall functionality of the suite.
As such there are limited features built into NCH Express Burn Plus itself, though there is a command line operation that allows for automation and integration with other programs.
Ease of use
NCH Express Burn Plus has been kept simple and as such performs its tasks efficiently without any fuss. The user interface is basic in keeping with this philosophy and is hardy and works okay but with a little more thought could have been more enjoyable to use as opposed to being just functional.
Help & support
The help file shown after installation is the main source of guidance on how to use the software, and covers all the relevant information needed. There is also some information in FAQ form on the website, as well as a user community forum (though this does seem very active).
Technical support is available via an email form on the website, though you are encouraged to try the forums first, and then advised to buy a support plan to ensure prompt support.
NCH Express Burn Plus performs its core tasks efficiently with the minimum of fuss so novices shouldn’t have any problems using it, though it may not satisfy more demanding users. Throughout the trial we found that we were often directed to additional software utilities from NCH which, if in-built, would have given Express Burn Plus that little extra edge needed to get to the top of the pile.
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