As we'll see in this review, Nero 12 Platinum bills itself as a "complete multimedia suite," an apt description because the product includes video editing, disc burning, backup and recovery, cataloging of multimedia files, DVD playback for Windows 8, and a whole lot more. Any way you count the apps, Nero 12 Platinum packs loads of functionality into a relatively inexpensive suite of software programs for Windows 8 and earlier PCs, including very sophisticated -- while not "professional level" -- video editing.
Compared with the previous version, Nero 11, the multiple functions of Nero 12 are more integrated here, although they are still separate.
Nero 12 also adds Windows 8 compatibility, plus support for streaming to mobile devices.
One advantage of the Nero suite is that copying a disc or burning some files onto a CD is quick and easy. One disadvantage, if you're serious about video editing, is that you're not working with a product that's devoted to nothing else but editing. The importance of this issue depends on your level of experience, however. If you're just now ready to graduate beyond Windows Live Moviemaker (free with Windows 7 and 8), you'll find Nero 12 Platinum's video editing to be fantastic.
Unless you purchase the boxed version, installing Nero 12 requires downloading a 293 MB file, taking about ten to twenty minutes at broadband speeds. Unlike programs that first require an initial download which then leads to a much larger download, this is the entire program; it is quite compact compared with other video editing software.
I installed Nero 12 on an Acer Aspire One mini-notebook running Windows 7 Home, equipped with 2GB of RAM and a rather humble AMD dual core 1 GHz C-50 processor. It worked fine. (By the way, it's compatible with Windows 8, 7, Vista and XP.)
Beware: Do NOT mindlessly check OK during installation. Early in the process, Nero tries to install an Ask search toolbar and to make Ask.com your browser's home page; you have the option to uncheck these boxes, which I recommend. (Ask.com has nothing to do with Nero's functionality, apparently, this is just a way for Nero to make money and presumably help to keep their prices down on software.)
Each component installs separately. (Some are available as separate purchases if you don't want the complete package.) The entire installation took about 25 minutes.
Once you're done with the installation, the Welcome to Nero 12 screen introduces you to nine different Nero Applications: Nero Burning ROM, Nero BackItUp, Nero Video, Nero Recode, Nero Kwik Media, Nero Blu-ray Player, Nero ControlCenter, Nero RescueAgent, and Nero Express. Six desktop icons are installed as well, excluding the Blu-ray Express, Rescue Agent, and ControlCenter applications -- an overall Nero 12 icon can get you to those. (That's for a Windows 7 installation; for Windows 8 there's just one icon, which then takes you to a splash screen where you can select the component you want.) The Welcome screen also provides the option to create desktop icons for the "missing" applications.
Nero Burning ROM & Nero Express
Nero Burning ROM is an optical disc burning utility to create CD-ROM, audio CD, data DVD, and data Blu-ray discs. This program is the "root"; many years ago, before the multimedia suite, Nero was simply a disc burning program.
Nero Burning ROM has advanced capabilities such as converting video and audio files to different formats before burning on to disc, and doing this as a batch process.
Burning ROM may appear a bit daunting to beginners, though, and that's where Nero Express comes in. Nero Express functions like an easy-to-use front end for Burning ROM. It is a task-based, interview-format program for creating and copying discs.
Nero BackItUp is a versatile backup program with three main functions: creating "Live" automatic network backups, creating file and folder backups, and backing up entire disc drives.
When I first launched this program a Windows Security alert popped up, warning me that this would open the computer to access from potential threats, and I mistakenly assumed this meant the backups are online (something I'm not a big believer in). Yet then I was delighted to learn that the backups take place over your local area network.
The program seemed to automatically find another computer I happened to have turned on in my network -- one that was almost identical to the computer I was using to test the software -- but then when I tried to change the configuration to use a different target, it could not find any other PCs on the network (although several were on). I subsequently realized that this is because you must first configure the target machine to allow network sharing. I did this and they were instantly recognized. BackItUp would be great for use with a network attached storage (NAS) device.
Nero Video, the video editing component, is the most sophisticated part of the suite. It is a full-fledged video editing program capable of working with a wide variety of source materials and file formats. When you launch the program a welcome screen asks you what you want to do, similarly to Nero Express. The choices include such options as making disc labels, browsing the Kwik Media library, and authoring Blu-ray and DVD movie discs. However, the main action is in the "Make Movie or Slide Show" option.
This launches the editing window. I was happy to see that when I first launched Nero Video it did not try to automatically catalog every video, audio and photo file on my hard drive, as some other programs do. As someone with tons of these files, I find such efforts annoying. When I want to edit, I'm focused on a specific new project, not making a slide show from five-year old photos I've got archived! (See also Kwik Media below.)
A construction timeline provides the central structure for assembling the editing plan, similarly to most other editing programs. You can conveniently place video files, photos and audio files directly on to the timeline -- a distinct convenience over some more professionally oriented editing programs that first require an ingest process. A single viewer window shows either source material or the edited sequence.
Nero Video goes way beyond the basics of video editing and includes many sophisticated features, the latest of which (compared with previous version) are a bunch of special effects to make videos and photos look like they're from the 1950s, or even older.
Another really nice touch is the software jog/shuttle dial for locating specific edit points. You can add video and audio tracks to your heart's content in Advanced Editing mode, while Express Editing uses a single track and displays a simpler storyboard-style view.
One great feature carried over from the previous Nero 11 is the ability to transfer video editing projects from Microsoft's Windows Live Moviemaker, the "free' video editing program that comes supplied with Windows 7 and Windows 8. (The Moviemaker version supplied with Windows XP, unfortunately, is not compatible with Nero.) So if you're editing with Moviemaker Live and discover you need to add another audio track, or some special effects like green screen that are beyond Moviemaker's capabilities, you can import the entire project into Nero 12 and continue from where you left off.
Other unique editing features include the ability to automatically find commercials in TV recording and locate music. There's also the more common scene detection.
The disc authoring capabilities here are impressive too. Many beginners don't quite get the difference between data and video DVDs and Blu-ray discs. You can't just put a video file on a DVD and expect it to play on your TV. You must "author" the disc, using a separate process from the editing. In this process you create a disc menu and chapters, and re-encode the video and audio.
This brings us to Nero Recode, a component that enables you to convert video and audio files to different formats for playback on iPhone or iPad or many other devices. The one caveat here is that source material cannot be copy-protected. You cannot, for example, take a Hollywood movie DVD or Blu-ray disc and recode it for playback on your iPad.
Nero Kwik Media provides two key functions: It replaces Windows Media Player with something better, because (among other things), Windows 8 will not play movie DVDs without an optional Pro upgrade version or third party MPEG decoder (which comes built-in here.)
Also, Kwik Media provides a very advanced library to catalog all the video, photo and audio files on your hard drive -- or a selected portion. Why is it advanced?
The face recognition feature lets you find all the photos (not videos) of anyone you want. (This can take quite a while, however. I taught it my daughter's face, and it took about two-and-a-half hours to look through approximately 2,000 photos. After that, it identified the faces -- cropping them from larger photos -- but didn't find matches. I checked the instructions, which said a separate plug-in, called "Nero Kwik Faces" was needed to find the matches.)
Additionally, you can make calendars and cards and albums from your photos. You can transfer video and audio files to an iPad or iPhone. The Kwik Media library is accessible from all the other components, too, such as the editing or backup or disc burning programs, an improvement over the previous version. Kwik Media can also send files to DLNA-compatible devices in your home network, to stream video or audio files to your TV or home theater system, for example.
Nero Blu-ray Player plays Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, and AVCHD discs. It should really be part of the Kwik Media player, but I suspect it's a separate program because of the way Nero tends to bundle components of this suite with hardware products (such as Blu-ray disc drives).
Nero RescueAgent might alone be worth the price of the suite, if you have a dead or near-dead disk drive that you wish you could recover files from. Like most tools in this category it can be hit or miss whether and how much you can recover, but it's certainly always worth a try.
Finally, Nero ControlCenter is not really an application in the suite. It's the configuration settings and update screen.
With the Nero suite, the real value is in the multiple capabilities. If you're looking for video editing only, there are other programs you might prefer. On the other hand, Nero Platinum 12 might be perfect for you if you need ways to help organize your photos and video files, burn DVD and CD-ROM data discs and movie discs, transcode and sync files to portable devices (including Apple devices), backup to network attached storage or discs, recover files from a damaged disc drive -- and do video editing. too!
Even if you only need two or three of these functions, Nero is a good deal at $109.95 for the Platinum version (currently discounted from $129.95). The Standard version is priced at $99.95. Unlike Nero Platinum, though, Nero Standard can't handle HD video.
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