Recently the folks at Honestech sent me an evaluation copy of their Fireman 3.0 CD / DVD burning software. Fireman is a swiss army knife tool for making data, video or music CD's and DVD's. Fireman lets you:
- Rip and author CD's (MP3, WMA, or CD audio)
- Backup unencrypted DVD's.
- Author DVD's (includes a simple authoring studio for titling, and chapter management as well).
In addition, it includes tools for playing DVD's, inscribing LightScribe media, viewing photos, and more.
Creating a DVD was easy to do. I dragged some media files from my video camera into the application, added a title, and pressed burn. While the process was lengthy, the end result played fine on my Sony DVD player, and looked great.
Similarly, creating a music CD was also no problem. I grabbed a dozen MP3 encoded tracks from the ARQ1 music server, dropped them into the app, pressed burn, and a few minutes later had an audio CD which I could play in the car, or from the aging CD jukebox we have in the living room.
Remember the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? Papa Bear's porridge was too hot for Goldilocks, Mama Bear's was too cold, and Baby Bear's was just right. Well that's Fireman 3.0. Fireman occupies a niche between the free tools that are part of Windows Media / Windows Vista, and suites like Nero. It's easy to decide what to buy:
- If you want to be able to author the latest formats (like HD DVD and Blu-Ray), then the $79.99 Nero is the product you need.
- If all you care about is Windows Media formats, then the free Windows Vista with Windows Media player will do the job.
- If you're like the vast majority of people, you'll need to be able to read and write more than Windows media formats (my camcorder, for instance, outputs MP4), and you don't yet own one of those very expensive next generation DVD players. In that case, Fireman 3.0 at $19.99 is the best choice.
For $19.99, Fireman packs an incredible wallop of features into a package which is just right for almost everyone I know who wants to burn and rip CD's and DVD's.