Adobe Encore DVD 1.5 test and review

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Adobe Encore DVD 1.5

From our perspective, Adobe's Encore DVD was probably the most eagerly-awaited software application of 2003. Ever since Apple's launch of DVD Studio Pro, and the availability of affordable DVD burners in the mainstream market, we'd been shouting for someone - anyone - to release an affordable, professionally-featured DVD authoring program for the Windows platform. The demand for such a program couldn't only have been obvious to us, but it took two or three years for software developers to deliver. First off the mark was Adobe with Encore DVD, closely followed by Ulead with the MkII version of DVD Workshop.
After such a long wait, you'd expect Adobe's software to be thoroughly tested, bug-free and stable, right? Monitoring online feedback from users since Encore's launch, we became aware that they were facing some serious hurdles - either actual bugs or user errors induced by one of the most poorly-designed user interfaces we'd seen since the first incarnation of DVD Studio Pro. In one of our own real-world tests earlier this year, we managed to create a complex project for DVD-9 replication that simply refused to play! If we're looking for anything from version 1.5, it's a stable program that does what it says on the box - and we're very disappointed to have to set our sights so low for what should be a killer product.
The list of new features in Encore 1.5 is small, and the biggest additions include improved integration with Photoshop CS (if you have Photoshop CS installed), background MPEG encoding, and improved palettes for images, styles and buttons. On the whole, the new features seem rather trivial for a x.5 update, leaving us wondering whether Adobe's agenda was to make users pay extra for bug fixes, or just to create a sense of coordination by updating all its digital video applications at the same time.

There's no denying that Encore feels more businesslike than its closest competitor, Ulead's DVD Workshop 2. While it seemed more stable and reliable than version 1.0, we still think that Encore suffers from having far too many windows. The interface is clumsy and often frustrating, and silly nuances - such as the need to enable copy protection twice - can yield disastrous results. That said, there's very little alternative on the Windows platform, and for those that persist, it's possible to get a good, fluid workflow going in Encore DVD. We still can't vouch for its reliability in mastering for commercial projects, so users taking Encore to that level would be well advised to ask for feedback on as many user forums as possible before wading into such quiet waters.


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