Pinnacle Instant CD/DVD V8 test and review

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Pinnacle InstantCD/DVD V8

Having bought VOB and rebranded that company's Instant software range, Pinnacle takes on Roxio with an all-singing, all-dancing
disc-burning suite

Regardless of any criticisms that might be made against it, there's no denying that Pinnacle tends to provide plenty of bangs per buck. The company's re-launch of Fast's Studio as Edition, with a sub-£500 price tag, has made the prosumer DV editing market an exciting place, giving Adobe and Avid a much-needed kick in the pants. But, Pinnacle has yet to make a serious mark in the home-computer mainstream - that strange world that doesn't revolve entirely around digital video.
InstantCD/DVD, though, might be Pinnacle's way into the mainstream. On paper, the suite of programs looks like a very able competitor to Roxio's well-featured Easy CD & DVD Creator 6. It provides quite advanced tools for sorting music tracks; creating playlists; making audio CDs and MP3 CDs; creating data discs; and even copying discs that you really shouldn't. Added to that, the suite includes Pinnacle's entry-level video disc creator, Expression, and costs the princely sum of £29.
Installation was a breeze. The program's many applications are automatically installed and shown in a single folder on the Windows Programs list, with sub-categories - Backup, Duplication, InstantDrive, InstantWrite, Mastering, Music, Tools and Video. There's also a single shortcut to a main screen featuring four tabs - Create, Copy/Backup, Media, Extras, and Help. The Create tab gives access to the most commonly used tools - data disc creation, audio CD burning, MP3 CDs, and video disc tools. Copy/Backup provides access to tools for copying, backup and restoring. Options under the Media tab include an interface to organise sound files, and even a basic multi-track audio mixing console, as well as a direct link to Windows Media Player. Extras take in packet-writing (for drag-and-drop copying to CD and DVD), access to existing projects, and Pinnacle's own software DVD player, InstantCinema.
InstantCD/DVD is a well-featured suite of programs, and competes closely with Roxio's Easy CD Creator - particularly at the lower price point. What Roxio offers that Pinnacle does not is basic photo editing tools, but the two suites are otherwise highly comparable. Pinnacle has the edge with audio tools - particularly with the InstantMusic multi-track editor - and also with video-disc creation, where Expression is much more straightforward and painless for the beginner than Roxio's DVD Builder.
At £29, InstantCD/DVD represents tremendous value for money but, as with Easy CD Creator, it's still a long way from being as tightly integrated as Apple's iLife suite - though that, of course, only runs on Macs. But, for the Windows user, there's not a lot of choice in the matter. Pinnacle's offering works well and has a strong focus on digital video - even if its strongest features seem geared towards piracy rather than production!

Peter Well

Read the full review in March 2004's Computer Video magazine.


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Reviewed in this issue:

Hitachi DZ-MV380
Pinnacle Instant VideoAlbum
Pinnacle InstantCD/DVD V8

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Apple updates budget video apps
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DVD Video get interactive
Two-megapixel Canons
Video Forum 2004
TDK CD/DVD printer
DV<>SDI video converter
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