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Reviewed: RecordNow Max
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: August 19th, 2002
Page: 2

For the uninitiated, first we point out the obvious shortfalls in this software; it's only as good as your burner. This needs to be said, because of the few users (you know who you are) who think software alone can fix a problem piece of hardware. If a feature such as buffer underrun prevention isn't there, tough -- the software can't provide it. Likewise, if your CD burner physically can't handle overburns for some reason, this software can't make it.

For users who bought good hardware with a lousy software bundle, however, the $40 for RecordNow Max might well be worth it. It comes packed with MP3 ripping/burning utilities, videoCD/DVD templates, DLA software (though I personally would never try to use that), and support for all the nifty tweaking options users love to abuse, like speed control and overburn support.

To get started, first you'll need to be sure your drive is supported. The full list is available at Stomp's website.

The big test -- and cleanest -- was putting the software up against a new DVD burner. The one in question: a Panasonic LF-D321U drive. Worked perfectly for authoring DVDs, as well as large-scale video file backups.  

Next was the big point -- a CD burner. Since most users aren't going to have DVD burners yet, the CD burner is the test. The software was great, up to a point, with only a few faults.

First, the good points: 

Overburn support. While some software gives rudimentary overburn support, RecordNow Max carries an option to specify the overburn to number of sectors (and thus, to exactly the space needed). While you'll need to be sure the media can handle it, or just willing to risk a coaster or two to fit a slightly overlarge burn to disc, the level of control will help make overburns easier.

Speed control. RecordNow Max has the usual levels, along with a "Max" setting, for burn speeds. On the DVD burner, "Max" was fine. Unfortunately, on my AOpen CRW1232A, "Max" invariably results in a coaster, even when the settings limit "Max" mode to 8X or less. Try as I might, I had to conclude the software wasn't communicating somewhere. It's a minor issue, however; Max might give a slightly shorter time on occasion, but hard-core users will likely lock the setting to a single rate anyways.

Mixed-Mode CDs. With a painless drag-and-drop setup that shows both the audio and data tracks for setup, I can honestly say that RecordNow is the easiest software for creating them. Perfect for musicians who want to throw on some extras for their fans.

Interface. RecordNow's interface is doubly intuitive. It features a built-in explorer window for users who prefer to do things from that side, and can also accept drag-ins from other navigation windows. The point was to make it as easy as possible, and it truly is. Drop everything in, and then customize your burn.

The downside for the software? Be prepared to update a few times. The boxed version is 4.0, but there's both a compatibility update (which was necessary for the software to find and communicate with the AOpen drive) and the 4.1 update to put in.

Also, be aware that RecordNow Max's DLA side does not play well with other burning software. For users who might want to keep their old software around just in case, you either have to go without RecordNow's DLA side, or reinstall your old software after installing. 

My recommendation? If you're a power user with a (known) power drive currently running Roxio or Nero, consider RecordNow Max as an upgrade. If all you do is copy music CDs for friends, don't bother with it. 

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Added:  Monday, August 19, 2002
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/3

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