[Review] Complex Evolution

{rw_text}Giveaway of the day for April 25, 2009 is:

Complex Evolution

Version reviewed:

v5.0.2 build 437

Software description as per GOTD:

Complex Evolution supports all popular disc burning devices: CD burners, DVD burners, Blu-Ray burners and HD-DVD burners. All above is easy to make. It’s really worth trying. To burn a disc by virtue of Complex Evolution simply add files to the required project (Data disc, Audio disc, DVD disc, UDF disc), press ‘Burn’ button and you’ll get a recorded disc with photos, music, video, data or bootable disc of your choice in a few minutes. You can easily burn an iso image, copy disc or save disc image to burn it later, to create an iso image from your files and many more.

————————-{/rw_text} –>

{rw_good}

  • Has pretty much all the run-of-the-mill burning software features (burn discs (audio, data, video), copy/rip discs, burn images, etc.).
  • Supports the burning of CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays and HD-DVDs.
  • Can create VCDs and SVCDs.

{/rw_good} –>

{rw_bad}

  • Has a very slight interface lag/delay.
  • Only burns .ISO and .MDS images (no other image format supported).
  • Can only create .ISO image (no other image format supported).

{/rw_bad} –>

{rw_score}
{for=”Features as Described” value=”10″}Not exactly sure how it is “portable” but everything is there.
{/for}
{for=”Ease of Use” value=”9″}A very slight interface lag/delay otherwise pretty easy to use.
{/for}
{for=”Performance” value=”9″}Uses slightly more RAM while idle (~19 MB) then I would like but otherwise all is good.
{/for}
{for=”Usefulness” value=”10″}Being able to burn almost anything, this program will be fairly useful.
{/for}
{for=”Arbitrary Equalizer” value=”8″}This category reflects an arbitrary number that does not specifically stand for anything. Rather this number is used to reflect my overall rating/verdict of the program in which I considered all the features and free alternatives.
{/for}
{/rw_score} –>

{rw_verdict}[tup]
{/rw_verdict} –>

Registration and installation went fine. Be sure to run Activate.exe after you install Complex Evolution.

Complex Evolution is a complete all-in-one solution for burning discs (CDs, DVDS, Blu-Rays, and HD-DVDs). It has all of the normal to-be-expected features of a burning software such as creating audio, video or data discs and burning images.

This is what Complex Evolution looks like:

2009-04-25_011132

The interface is pretty straightforward. Choose what type of disc you want to make (Data, Audio, DVD or UDF), add files and burn. Not particularly sure why there is a specific option for “UDF disc” seeing as many/most things use UDF when burning nowadays anyway but ya, whatever.

In addition to the above mentioned, if you go to “Extras” you will be able to do some …extra.. things like create a VCD:

2009-04-25_012312

Additionally, you can also create an ISO image. Just add all the files you want in your ISO into the respective tab (data, audio, etc.) and go to “File” -> “Save ISO Image”. All those files you had loaded will be turned into an ISO image.

Now there is still a lot more brouhaha technical details with Complex Evolution but since most of us don’t care about or don’t understand most of these details lets just get to the bottom line: Complex Evolution should have the name “studio” in it because it is basically a burning studio – you can do all major disc burning related activities with relative ease.

That being said, I give Complex Evolution a thumbs up but I also have to say this: Complex Evolution, in my eyes, has nothing “special” or unique – nothing that makes me say “wow you should get this program”. Complex Evolution is a good program but there are tons of free burning programs that will do same/similar things.

“The Bad” Explained

I already told you guys what my rating/perception of Complex Evolution is but before I go onto free alternatives and suggestions let me explain the things I listed under “The Bad” (warning: these are not really that big of cons):

  • Has a very slight interface lag/delay.
    • If you click on one of the menus for Complex Evolution, like “File” for example, there is a noticeable millisecond delay before the menu pops open. Now this delay isn’t a “oh my god this program is so freaking slow I hate it it should die” type delay. It is a more “Ashraf is anal and this annoys the heck out of him” type delay; in other words nothing big yet still annoying.

    Furthermore, whoever says “there is no delay or lag” is, well, not so truthful. The interface “delay or lag” is the built in menu animation… its impossible to not have it.

  • Only burns .ISO and .MDS images (no other image format supported).
    • There are tons of image formats. Complex Evolution can only burn .ISO and .MDS formats. Now this again is not that big of a deal because .ISO is more or less the industry standard and most popularly used image format but ya I feel like I should mention this. ***Keep in mind that sometimes if you have a .IMG you can simple rename it to an .ISO and burn it without any problems.
  • Can only create .ISO image (no other image format supported).
    • Keep in mind when I talk about this I am talking about creating an ISO from files from your computer. You can rip your discs directly into ISO and MD5 both. Otherwise, same thing as the above.

This review was conducted on a laptop running Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit. The specs of the laptop are as follows: 3GB of RAM, a Radeon HD 2600 512MB graphics card, and an Intel T8300 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor.

***Update***

I just noticed something. Near the bottom of http://complexnt.com/burning_engine_features_list.htm it says:

And much-much more… (c) RocketDivision Software

2009-04-25_055458

RocketDivision is the developer of StarBurn (StarBurn is one of the free alternatives I have listed below). Complex Evolution may just be a rebranded version of StarBurn; afterall, RocketDivison does sell StarBurn SDK (software development kit) and the features lists of Complex Evolution and StarBurn sure look similar! However this new discovery does not change my final verdict; what I recommended when I first wrote this review is the same that I recommend now.

{rw_freea}

Ashampoo Burning Studio 2009

Does your burning software do everything but you can’t find anything? Did installing it take up several gigabytes of hard drive space and fill up your Taskbar? Ashampoo Burning Studio 8 is different. It’s compact, fast and amazingly easy to use. You just choose from a list of tasks and the software guides you through every step. And even though it has all the functions you would expect from a complete burning suite, the entire software takes up less than 85 megabytes on your hard disk.

  • Burn and update data discs
    Burn data to discs and update previously burned discs by adding and removing files and folders.
  • Back up your data to single or multiple discs
    Back up your valuable data to one or more discs. Single backups can span multiple discs. Restore your backups in a single easy operation.
  • Rip and burn music
    Rip music from CDs and burn music to audio CDs and MP3 discs on CD, DVD and Blu-ray in a variety of formats.
  • Burn movies and photos to DVDs and data discs
    In addition to the new slideshow DVDs you can author and burn video DVDs, Video CDs (VCD), Super Video CDs (SVCD) and data video discs. Video files are automatically converted to the necessary formats.
  • Copy CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs
    Just insert a disc, select Copy and you’re ready to burn.
  • Create and burn disc images
    You can both create and burn ISO, CUE/BIN and Ashampoo’s own special ASHDISC image formats.
  • Erase rewriteable discs
    Quick and easy erase functions for reusing rewriteable discs.
  • Expert burn functions for full control
    Burning experts can create modified copies of existing discs (read in data structure and make changes and additions) and burn discs of all kinds with full control of all main configuration options.
  • And more!

-Ashampoo Developer

StarBurn

***I wrote a review on StarBurn v11 in the past. You can access it here.

————

StarBurn is a FREE powerful tool for grabbing, burning and mastering CD, DVD, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD media. StarBurn supports all types of optical storage media (including CD-R/RW, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, BD-R/RE, HD-DVD-R/RW and DVD-RAM) as well as a wide variety of burning hardware.

With StarBurn you can perform grabbing, copying and burning operations.

StarBurn is easy to learn and to use, it offers a number of step-by-step wizards for novice users.

StarBurn has a Quick Start Wizard that provides to simplify frequently used operations such as disc copying and grabbing.

Now you have the unique opportunity to download and take advantage of the best burning and free CD/ DVD software on the Internet. It’s an absolutely free to try online program which allows you to make unlimited number of CD/DVD copies of your favorite Mp3 songs and DVD movies. Windows XP (98,ME), burning CD ROM and StarBurn software the only things you need to do it.

Key Features:

All MMC (Multi-Media Command Set) compatible CD/DVD/Blu-Ray/HD-DVD burning hardware is supported. StarBurn deals with devices in a “generic” mode meaning you don’t need to get an updated version of our software to support a brand new burner.

CD-R/RW, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, BD-R/RE, HD-DVD-R/RW and DVD-RAM media supported. Including modern high-capacity double layer DVD+R and dual layer DVD-R.

UDF (Universal Disc Format) file system mastering (UDF 1.02, 1.50 and 2.01). Files larger then 2 GB and with names up to 2048 characters long can now be stored on optical media. You don’t need to use third-party tools to split your huge database backups or rename long file names before burning them.

ISO9660 file system mastering (including Joliet Unicode extensions). The most compatible file system virtually any machine can read.

Bridge file system (ISO9660/UDF for DVD-Video creation) mastering. StarBurn creates bridge file system which is DVD-Video compatible. This media can be read with both stand-alone DVD players and ancient Windows 95 and DOS machines.

Session import (appending already created CD/DVD/Blu-Ray/HD-DVD media). In this mode you can use the same media for sequential recording daily. New data will perfectly co-exist with previously recorded data. The only limitation is the physical media capacity.

DVD-Video main sequence (movie) extraction. StarBurn can re-master the DVD and extract only the movie. This allows you to include just the movie content and without the trailers and advertising from the original DVD. Unwanted video won’t be copied, the main movie sequence will be extracted and stored on your hard disk or directly recorded to optical media on-the-fly.

Audio content processing. StarBurn can store audio tracks as WAV (uncompressed) and WMA (compressed Windows Media Audio) files. You can create extra copies of your audio CD collection and listen directly from your PC hard disk. Or you can load compressed audio into portable player or car audio. StarBurn also is capable of burning WAV and WMA files back to create re-mastered audio CDs. So if you have an old CD-player or car audio that can’t play MP3/WMA compressed data you can create an ordinary audio CD from files stored on your hard disk. StarBurn is capable of processing or compressed audio streams on-the-fly. This means it can burn an audio CD from MP3/WMA files without de-compressing them and storing an intermediate copy on your hard disk. This is MUCH faster then doing everything in two steps: first decoding and then actual burning.

Track-At-Once (TAO) and Disc-At-Once (DAO) (RAW) recording modes. In TAO everything is handled by the drive, application just passes 2048 bytes/sector streams (data) or 2352 bytes/sector streams (audio). With DAO application creates a raw virtual CD image and writes with 2448 (DAO96) or 2368 (DAO16) bytes/sector streams. TAO is the most compatible mode and preferred for data (the only mode to create multisession CDs) and DAO allows ou to create gap-less audio CD, add CD-Text and CD+G information and some additional features.

El Torito (bootable CD/DVD/Blu-Ray/HD-DVD). With this feature it’s trivial to create custom recovery optical media. Use CD/DVD/Blu-Ray/HD-DVD as a very big floppy boot disk.

DVD9 ? 2 DVD-R(+R) convertion. In this mode StarBurn will backup dual layer stamped DVD9 DVD-Video disc into a pair of two DVD single layer recordables. These days a pair of two single layer recordable discs is still cheaper then single double/dual layer recordable. StarBurn will allow you to save quite a lot when making backup of you home DVD-Video collection.

-StarBurn Developer

InfraRecorder

InfraRecorder is a free CD/DVD burning solution for Microsoft Windows. It offers a wide range of powerful features; all through an easy to use application interface and Windows Explorer integration.

  • Create custom data, audio and mixed-mode projects and record them to physical discs as well as disc images.
  • Supports recording to dual-layer DVDs.
  • Blank (erase) rewritable discs using four different methods.
  • Record disc images (ISO and BIN/CUE).
  • Fixate discs (write lead-out information to prevent further data from being added to the disc).
  • Scan the SCSI/IDE bus for devices and collect information about their capabilities.
  • Create disc copies, on the fly and using a temporary disc image.
  • Import session data from multi-session discs and add more sessions to them.
  • Display disc information.
  • Save audio and data tracks to files (.wav, .wma, .ogg, .mp3 and .iso).
  • -InfraRecorder Developer

    CDBurnerXP

    CDBurnerXP is a free application to burn CDs and DVDs, including Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs. It also includes the feature to burn and create ISOs, as well as a multilanguage interface. Everyone, even companies, can use it for free. It does not include adware or similar malicious components.

    • burn all kinds of discs
    • audio-CDs with or without gaps between tracks
    • burn and create ISO files
    • data verification after burning process
    • create bootable discs
    • multi-language interface
    • bin/nrg ? ISO converter, simple cover printing and much more!
    • Operating Systems: Windows 2000/XP/2003 Server/Vista

    -CDBurnerXP Developer

    ImgBurn

    ImgBurn is a lightweight CD / DVD / HD DVD / Blu-ray burning application that everyone should have in their toolkit!

    It has several ‘Modes’, each one for performing a different task:

    • Read – Read a disc to an image file
    • Build – Create an image file from files on your computer or network – or you can write the files directly to a disc
    • Write – Write an image file to a disc
    • Verify – Check a disc is 100% readable. Optionally, you can also have ImgBurn compare it against a given image file to ensure the actual data is correct
    • Discovery – Put your drive / media to the test! Used in combination with DVDInfoPro, you can check the quality of the burns your drive is producing

    -ImgBurn Developer

    Because of it’s unorthodox emphasis on images, ImgBurn is only recommended for advance users.

    DVDFlick

    DVD Flick aims to be a simple but at the same time powerful DVD Authoring tool. It can take a number of video files stored on your computer and turn them into a DVD that will play back on your DVD player, Media Center or Home Cinema Set. You can add additional custom audio tracks, subtitles as well as a menu for easier navigation.

    • Burn near any video file to DVD
    • Support for over 45 file formats
    • Support for over 60 video codecs
    • Support for over 40 audio codecs
    • Easily add a menu
    • Add your own subtitles
    • Easy to use interface
    • Burn your project to disc after encoding
    • Completely free without any adware, spyware or limitations

    -DVDFlick Developer

    {/rw_freea} –>

    {rw_verdict2}Complex Evolution is a fairly comprehension disc burning utility – thumbs up. However as I already said I don’t see anything “unique” about this program; there is nothing that would make me want to recommend it. So my recommendation for today is Ashampoo Burning Studio. Ashampoo is a very comprehensive burning utility with a few extra “bell and whistles” features such as creating disc covers and labels. However Ashampoo is fairly resource intensive (uses ~80 MB of RAM just sitting idle). So for those people who think they will not be able to run it or would prefer a more lightweight program, StarBurn is my second recommendation. StarBurn is more lightweight than Ashampoo and it still provides comprehensive burning features (not sure why anyone would ever need a portable version, but StarBurn also has a portable version). Lastly, if you are looking to create DVDs, DVDFlick is the program that you need (DVDFlick is far superior for creating DVDs than any “create DVD” feature in any burning utility).
    {/rw_verdict2} –>

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    23 comments

    1. Rick

      Ashraf,

      Good day!

      THANK YOU for your patience and replies and suggestions! ALL are very helpful to me …. so I can easily burn the DVD image I will be using on my player. I have several graphics utilities and just wanted to see which – in your view – would BEST – get the job done.

      Also – thanks again for your reviews here … I ALWAYS read them because it provides some terrific additional, thoughtful suggestions, and also a forum from others on their experiences. I hope you continue to do this for may of us that may not have the expertise on many of the areas that you cover!

      Have a GREAT weekend SIR! – Rick

    2. Rob

      ‘Heads up’ for any VB6 programmers reading this.
      DVD FLick is written in VB6, and the source code can be downloaded.

      Rob
      PS
      The author uses more dependencies than I would (aka I avoid them like the plague.
      If any VB6 programmers find installing it(the normal installer) mucks up their development environment, could you give a yell

    3. Mike

      Another vote for DVD Flick here! The only thing I would prefer would be a faster conversion and burn time–tends to take about 3 hours for me, for a full DVD (using the “normal” encoding setting). But just plan in advance.

    4. Ashraf
      Author/Mr. Boss

      mukhi,

      Imgburn is one of my favorite burning programs; in fact it is often my burning program of choice. I wanted to recommend imgburn but I feel it is a little more for advanced users than general pubic as opposed to Ashampoo or StarBurn which is why I did not recommend it.

    5. mukhi

      i now use imgburn for burning DVDs (VIDEO_TS folder, say). my experience says that nero and roxio are terrible in handling DVDs. i used to burn VIDEO_TS folder in nero/roxio as data at auto speed. it used to have a successful burn and then DVD would get stuck during playback mostly. never happened with imgburn! imgburn controls the speed in a nice way (i use auto speed). with a double layer disc, nero/roxio is even worse. with imgburn, DL (verbatim) almost never failed.
      bottmoline for me:
      hardware: PC
      software: imgburn
      speed: auto
      disc: verbatim (also have a great success with memorex, taiyo yuden, sony. TDK also good)
      avoid DL disc as much as possible!

    6. Ashraf
      Author/Mr. Boss

      @Rick,

      Think of ISOs as a storage unit. ISOs themselves are only good for storing your information; if you want to create a disc you need to burn that ISO to the disc. That being said, if you want to create a DVD there is no point in creating an ISO unless you want to store/share that DVD. Also, as far as I know, with Complex Evolution you would first need to turn that MPEG into DVD format, which you should be able to do with FormatFactory (see “All To VOB”) . Once you have the .VOB files from FormatFactory you should be able to burn that .VOB into the DVD with Complex Evolution – just select the DVD disc tab and add it into Video_TS (note I have never actually created a DVD with this method so its all in theory for me).

      On the other hand, if you bought your DVD player within the past two to three years, chances are it will be able to read VCDs. So instead of going through the steps of converting with FormatFactory, etc. you can just create a VCD directly from the MPEG (see “Extras”).

      Still yet on the other hand, if you really want to create a DVD, use DVDFlick – it is a hell lot easier than Complex Evolution and you don’t need to convert to DVD format before hand.

      Hope that helps.

      @Aviator
      Thanks – I wonder if any major changes.

    7. Jonathon

      This is by far one of your simpler reviews – it does not have dozens of images or videos or analyses of different components – but the review is perfect for this software. (A longer review would be too long for this software.) How could anyone give this article a rating less than 5 stars?
      Ashraf, may I say you are a gift from God/Allah. I know a lot of highly intelligent people, but it blows my mind that you can write reviews (+ instructions + demonstrations + comparisons) of this quality almost every day, while also studying for your courses, and living. What you write (and image) in a few hours is often far superior to what software companies and magazines write in who-knows-who-long. (Yes, I know some of your articles are quotations from the software developers; I know it’s not ‘all you’.) I hope this is rewarding enough (enjoyable, skill/knowledge-growing, income-generating/career-advancing) for you to continue this great service to .. well, the world. (I don’t mean to pressure you to keep doing this forever; I mean to say thank you for all you have done.)
      Thanks,
      Jonathon,
      Toronto

    8. Mike R

      Wow, looks like there are more and more converts to DVD Flick — well, people prepared to try it out, anyway. (Open Source = Open Mind!)

      There’s so much to value about Ashraf’s work and Ashraf’s site but amongst the foremost is the way that little gems, so often treasured by only a few, are brought out into the light by Ashraf for the benefit of many.

    9. Rick

      Hi Ashraf,

      Just a quick and stupid question from a person that doesn’t do a lot of burning. IF I want to take a MPEG *as an example* and convert it to run on a “standard” DVD device hooked up to a TV – do I want to choose ISO as the output type? And – would THIS program be able to do that?

      I am grateful for this column and reviews – and always read them regardless of what is being “given away” daily.

      Thanks for ANY help and guidance, and my apologies for what is probably a stupid question!

    10. windowsexplorer

      Thanks for the quick reply (and I forgot to say, Thanks for the review). Burnaware is being uninstalled today to make room for DVDFlick. Since Complex Evolution has no feature to put it over Ashampoo and/or StarBurn, guess there’s no need to get it today.

    11. Ashraf
      Author/Mr. Boss

      WE,

      If you have a program that can’t even copy a disc… ya it probably sucks (unless it has some super duper awesomely unique feature that makes up for the lack of a basic feature).

      That is +3 for DVDFlick =).

    12. windowsexplorer

      I got Burnaware Express from GOTD sometime last year I think, so I am interested in how it would compare. It does Blu-ray Discs as well as CD and DVD (as if I had BD–LOL), but doesn’t have a “copy” function, which to me means it would probably rate below StarBurn and Ashampoo, but I would like to hear it from someone who has used all of them. I am definitely going to get a hold of DVDFlick as soon as I make some room on my hard drive, since I have a project it will really help, and apparently none of the comprehensive burning studios do what it does.

    13. Ashraf
      Author/Mr. Boss

      Im afraid I don’t have Nero Express. However I did some research and found this in a Softpedia review:

      Nero Express is just a fragment of Nero Burning ROM, because there are no advanced modules available (creating bootable discs or CD/DVD-ROM UDF/ISO) and only the popular tasks are available (create data CD/DVD, Audio CD, Audiobook CD, VCD, SVCD, DVD-Video, CD/DVD copying and burning NRG, ISO, CUE and IMG image files).

      From that I would say Complex Evolution is better than Nero Express.

    14. Mike R

      Ashraf:

      Quick note of thanks for drawing the attention of a wider audience to the superb DVD Flick.

      It may only have a humble little name (instead of the pretentious gibberish of the GOTD payware) but it’s a dependable single-purpose tool that in my experience works unfailingly.

      I’m not knocking the popularity of software suites but I really do wonder why people download an entire canteen of cutlery when what they’re actually in need of are two or three really good chef’s knives: precisely honed, and exactly shaped to a particular task.

    15. Angela

      Hi Ashraf,

      So if I already have Starburn, would you recommend that I stick with that and not install Complex Evolution?

      Thanks so much for your reviews and recommendations! And your detailed screenshots and comments – really get a feel of a program from them. Very much appreciated!