Saturday, 14 September 2013

Nero Kwik Media 12.5.00300 Free Download
Nero Multimedia Suite 10 ($99.99, 4.5 stars) includes the MediaHub photo, music, and video organizer and basic editor, but now that's available as a free download to anyone, as Nero Kwik Media. With Kwik, Nero saw the opportunity to help Android phone users who want an easy way to sync to an iTunes music library. The company is the latest in a long line to latch onto the "app store" craze, now offering its own that's mostly populated with plug-ins that add functionality like face recognition and Blu-ray playing to Kwik Media. Will Kwik replace Apple iTunes (Free, 4 stars) and Google Picasa (Free, 4.5 stars) in your media arsenal? Read on to see whether that makes sense for you.

Setup and Interface

Kwik is not the quickest of downloads, at 174MB, so don't expect to be up and running within seconds. The installer runs through multiple sub-setup processes and tries to get you to install a toolbar too, which I can't fault in a free app. By comparison, Picasa takes a fraction of the time to install, as does iTunes, and unlike those, Kwik requires a reboot.

When you start up Kwik, it first shows a narrow filmstrip-like window populated with thumbnails of your own photos and videos. You then get an interface that looks strikingly like the MediaHub component of Nero Multimedia Suite, except the main Kwik window area starts out showing four categories of link choices: Media Library, Enjoy Your Media, Be Creative, and Burn & Copy Disc. The first is all about importing, the second lets you make a slideshow, playlist or upload to the Web. Enjoy lets you view and edit photos and play audio and videos. Without buying an add-on, the only burning you can do is music to CDs. Burn & Copy Disc is self-explanatory.

The start page is a fairly sparse arrangement of text links, but once you get into the library and detail views, it's a clear, good-looking interface. Generous use of tooltips points out how to perform common tasks. I could add any type of media to my Favorites (though the point products let you apply more granular star ratings). In all, though, Kwik doesn't really offer any huge UI advances over what you'll find in iTunes, Picasa, or Windows Media Player.

Importing Media

Kwik can watch folders and automatically add to its libraries any new media files that appear in them. This includes Window 7 libraries, which a lot of programs don't know how to deal with. From the Start Page, you can also choose "Import files from a device" but this just brings up the normal library view. You're expected to know to click on the sources below the three library entries (Music, Photos, Videos) and playlists—Optical Discs and Devices. Clicking on either of these two actually offers import options. Checkboxes let you choose to import Music, Photos, and Videos. But beyond that, you don't get any choices about where to import to, file naming or, in the case of photos, tagging.

I tested the software's claims about syncing Android phones to iTunes libraries with a Samsung Galaxy S phone after failing to get a Huawei Ascend recognized. You need the $4.99 MoveIt plugin, and you also have to make sure the phone is in USB storage mode—but not USB debugging mode. Once I got the phone connected, recognized, and in the right mode, an entry for it appeared in the Devices left panel, and clicking this brought up a page showing a thumbnail image of the phone along with a bar indicating its memory usage between music, photos, video, and other.

Prominent Sync and Sync Options buttons appear on the phone's page, and the latter brought up tabs for Playlists and Albums, but the checkbox for All Albums was grayed out. I liked how Kwik let me simply drag albums to the phone's left-panel entry. You can also sync Android phones with Windows Media Player, but Kwik does make the process a bit clearer. I should note that I had no problem getting an iPhone to show up in Kwik, but it makes more sense to use iTunes, for firmware updates and more.


Kwik's Music view shows cover art thumbnails for any music it finds in your watched folders and added to the library. You can easily play, add to a playlist, or burn any checked item here. Creating playlists is a snap, and you can drag and drop songs onto a playlist's entry in the left panel to add them. You can use random or repeat mode, but there's nothing comparable to iTunes' Genius playlists.

I wish I could simply remove something from the Kwik catalog as I can in iTunes and Windows Media Player, rather than having to delete from disk. iTunes and Windows Media Player also have the advantage of being able to play Internet radio, as well as stream music from other local computers' playlists.

  • New in this version:
  • ¢ Improved usability to get you started even faster
  • ¢ Better performance to manage and browse through your photos, videos and music instantly
  • ¢ Automatic timeline of photos and videos based on the dates they were taken
  • ¢ Face tags to find photos by who is in them
  • ¢ Automatic keyword tags derived from your existing folder structures and the metadata within each photo and video file
  • ¢ Customizable keyword tags that can be added to as many individual and groups of photos and videos as you want
  • ¢ Tag filtering so you can quickly combine keyword and face tags to find the exact photos and video clips you want
  • ¢ Rating and marking so you can identify your favorite photos and videos quickly
  • ¢ Smart albums that save keyword combinations and automatically add new content that is tagged with the same criteria.

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