Review: Popcorn 2

Easy to use and fast burning of your data (June 12th, 2006)

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Product Manufacturer: Roxio

Price: $49 US

The Good

  • Easy to install and use. Many options for copying DVDs. Provides greater selection and more efficient transfer of videos for iPods.

The Bad

  • Less versatile than Toast. Doesn't recognize WMV files.

In late 2004, Roxio introduced Popcorn, which did for DVDs what its beloved Toast program did for CDs - everything. In September 2005, Roxio announced an expanded Toast 7 Titanium, which includes loading content into a video iPod, cell phone, Sony PSP, and DivX players. Now Roxio has enhanced Popcorn with version 2.

Stop reading if you don't have Tiger, iTunes 6, QuickTime 7, and, at least 15 GB of hard drive space. When you copy a DVD or CD, you need at least twice the space to store temporary files. The good news is, that space can reside on your system disk or an external drive, which you can choose in the Preferences.

What it does

Unlike Toast, Popcorn doesn't compose data or music discs on the fly. It does only two things. First, it makes DVDs from other DVDs, image files, and VIDEO_TS folders. (Roxio products don't support WMV.) Second, it feeds DVDs and other video files, specifically all QuickTime-supported files, MPEG-2 and DivX, to handheld devices. If you don't have any handheld devices to feed, you may want to stick with Toast 7, which has the good DVD features plus many others. Popcorn 2 however, is cheaper and simpler, if you don't have sophisticated needs. Toast 7 users and Popcorn users can buy Popcorn 2 at the upgrade price of $29.99. It is significantly cheaper than Toast for those of you that don't need all the bells and whistles.

How it does it

Popcorn 2 lets you customize your DVDs. If you try to copy a 9 GB dual-layer DVD to a 4.7 single-layer one, compression kicks in automatically. The software does not operate on copy-protected or encrypted commercial DVDs. If you use decryption software, such as MacTheRipper, Popcorn does compress the resulting files. Decrypt commercial DVDs at your own risk though.

Popcorn2 screen



You can also save space by copying parts of the source material. I tested Popcorn 2 on a DVD with two home movies. The software quickly recognized both the Combo Drive in my G4 iBook and the external Pioneer DVD burner. It gave me the choice of copying one or both movies, with or without extras, plus audio in one or all languages. A preview feature lets you view your video and make screenshots before copying. You can specify recording speeds, though the defaults are reliable. If you want ten or twenty copies, just specify the number and Popcorn prompts you for a blank disc after each copy. Local networks can share recorders.

Copying to portable players is a Toast-like process. You can copy from a DVD, disc image or VIDEO_TS folder, and from one or more video files in any of the supported formats. You're given the option of saving the product to iTunes, which you want for an iPod, or any other location. The process is quicker and simpler than with iTunes alone.

Installation

Popcorn 2 is a delight to install. Open the disk and a message prompts you to drag a little Popcorn box to your Applications folder. Surprise: You don't have to bring up that folder. An alias of it appears in the window with the application icon.

Support

The Getting Started guide is excellent, but it's a bit disconcerting to select Popcorn Help from the menu and find nothing except that guide, but don't despair. If you select Product Support from the same menu, you will find many resources including the Popcorn 2 Discussion Forum on Roxio's site. You'll read complaints as well as kudos, and can ask your own questions, although it is so easy to use, you probably won't need much support.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Barbara Mende


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