Dragon Burn 4.0 - Software Review

Mac users have long praised their operating system for its dominance in all things media-related. However, compatibility issues and high-prices have kept Apple a distant second choice for most home computer users. NTi's Dragon Burn 4.0 is a CD/DVD burning application that appeals to the iPod generation while delivering the kind of results that put to shame higher-priced alternatives.

I bought my G4 five years ago and have rarely had occasion to complain about performance. However, one major headache has been my CD burner. About six months after buying my G4, I replaced my factory-issued CD drive with a Yamaha CRW2200E burner. When I upgraded to OS X, the burner quit working. Yamaha fixed the problem with a free patch and then promptly discontinued making or supporting CDR drives for Apple computers.

The Yamaha patch worked well until the next OS X update. The purchase of Roxio's infamous (and expensive) Toast software fixed the problem again and insured that my computer would be popping out fresh mixes from my iTunes library for as long as I could come up with new ways to transition from David Bowie to Modest Mouse without missing a beat. At least, that was the promise.

Apple introduced Jaguar as its most finely tuned version of OS X and there was nothing that Toast or subsequent patches could do to bring my burner back to life. I could play discs, load software…but no amount of tweaking, screaming or updating would make my drive burn again.

Enter Dragon Burn 4.0.

NTi's CD burning application came to the scene with an armload of promises and suspiciously priced at almost half of what Roxio's famous Toast Titanium sells for on the web. Previous versions of Dragon Burn got mixed reviews from the notoriously one-sided Mac market so, with little to lose but my time, I gave Dragon Burn 4.0 a chance.

Installation was a snap - as should be the case with any OS X application. The graphics are a little dated, but they bear enough resemblance to the Firefox graphics to come off as ironically retro.

Immediately, Dragon Burn registered the fact that my computer actually had a working CD burner. Months of annoyed emails to Apple, Roxio and Yamaha were now happily in my past.

Dragon Burn's main menu provides the user with nine distinct burning options; Three types of Audio (standard audio, MP3, and Live Audio), disc to disc duplication, Video CD, Picture CD, Data CD and Custom (for the multimedia set). Their last and most unique function is the Multiple Copy function that allows you to simultaneously burn data to as many burners as you can attach to your computer.

Dragon Burn 4.0 - Main Menu

If you don't know what the difference is between a Custom CD and a Data CD, NTi has provided pop-up explanation windows that are unobtrusive at first, and then easy to turn off once you're good to go.

Once you select the type of disc you're going to burn, a window opens that shows the content and status of your current project. Dragon Burn 4.0 supports drag-and-drop transfers for seamless a Mac experience.

I started simple and opted to make a straight back-up of a rare imported CD of French rap legend MC Solaar. The program walked me through the process and in no time, I had a freshly burned copy of old-school Francophone hip-hop. Reviews of previous versions of Dragon Burn complained of quality loss from generation to generation. I didn't notice any appreciable difference between the two CD's, so it would seem that NTi has addressed those issues in version 4.0.

I also tested how well Dragon Burn 4.0 worked while competing with other applications. I exported an iTunes playlist (which is handily a one-step function from the Dragon Burn toolbar), and set it to burn in the background while I checked my email and edited a few photos in Adobe Photoshop. Dragon Burn churned quietly along and delivered a flawless mix-CD with no appreciable performance lag.

My next test for Dragon Burn 4.0 was of its much lauded multiple-burner support. I borrowed a friend's Cyclone DVD Revo Firewire SuperDrive and was able to simultaneously burn a photo CD using my internal drive and the borrowed Firewire drive. It took a little bit of work to set up the process, but the application registered both drives immediately. Burning to the DVD drive took a little longer than my internal drive, but that's to be expected given the difference in technology.

Dragon Burn 4.0 - Multiple Burner Support

Since I had it on-hand, I also used my friend's Revo to test Dragon Burn's DVD writing capabilities. I duplicated a home-movie my parents had transferred to DVD last year and found the process as easy as burning a normal data CD.

Overall, Dragon Burn 4.0 represents the growing trend in Mac software towards affordable and diverse applications. Dragon Burn 4.0 delivered superior compatibility to Apple's native Disc Copy application and Roxio's Toast Titanium. It also has the neat (though perhaps narrowly targeted) ability to drive multiple burners at once.

At the end of the day, you may not need this software. If you're using all Apple-issued parts, the burn functions that come standard with OS X are usually enough for the run-of-the-mill Mac user. But if you're looking for more advanced burning capabilities, or if Apple phases out support for your current drive, it's nice to know that there's an effective and reasonably priced solution.

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