Response to CNET’s “Audio & video software: Need software for burning camcorder videos to DVDs for preservation”

by Joseph Delli Gatti

The price difference up front of a Mac vs a PC causes the average consumer to believe that Macs are more expensive thanPCs.  I jokingly ask them if it’s really worth the savings to sit on the phone with tech support in India all of the time.  And what software do you need to purchase when buying a PC vs buying a Mac?

The following was a question asked by a visitor to the CNET forum found here

Question:  Need software for burning camcorder videos to DVDs for preservation

With the arrival of my first grandchild, I bought my son and
daughter-in-law a Canon HD camcorder. The camcorder is
terrific, the bundled software–Pixela–is not. My
first priority is to burn downloaded (to a PC running Windows
Vista) videos to a DVD for preservation purposes as well as
availability to family and friends. Pixela wants me to
uninstall any software that has a DVD burning function before
Pixela can work. That’s a tall order considering how many
software packages contain that function. I am not confident
that once that’s done the Pixela software will work as
promised. So, what I’m looking for are alternative software
suggestions to meet my goal of burning videos to DVDs for
preservation and distribution. Please include title of
software, what makes it great (features), the ease of use,
any draw backs, and/or anything that you can think of that
makes your software recommendation worthwhile. Thank you for
your help. 

Submitted by: Irwin S.

Bear with me on the first two short paragraphs. I have heard the following same arguments from PC users for a long time.  And there is absolutely no truth to any of it.

As a finance major, I studied the cost-to-reward for both PCs and Macs for an ISystems class I had. Over the life of the average PC, you will likely pay the same or more than you would for an equivalent Mac. The only difference is whether you pay upfront or over the life of the computer (in repairs, time spent on the phone with customer service, new parts, IT costs, configuration time, additional software, extra virus protection, etc).

Both PCs and Macs use the same compatible RAM, Hard Drives, optical drives, and processors. The difference between a budget PC flaunting equal specs for a lower price and an “equivalent” Mac is the quality of the parts put in the computer, bundled software, and the service rendered if something breaks. On average, the poorly-built cheapy PCs cost slightly more than just buying an equivalent hassle-free, warranted, stylish, and feature-filled Mac. In addition, the Mac has been forced to deal with very, very few virus issues over the last 10 years.

Configuration, backup, and usability of a Mac is far easier than of a PC. That being said, I have been editing video (professional quality) using iMovie on a Mac since December, 2000 and have been burning these videos to DVD (also professional quality movies) using iDVD since 2003. These are freeware programs that come standard on a Mac.

If you have dealt with the hassle of trying to accomplish these tasks on a PC, you would likely be amazed at how simple and yet feature-full the Mac programs are. These features are finally starting to be mimicked on the PC and included as freeware nearly 8 years later!   In fact, I have found as a beta tester for XP and Vista that most of the features on the Mac will be poorly reproduced and integrated into Windows 6 months-4 years later.

One of the common issues I find as a part-time Mac tutor is that many former PC users erroneously go out and buy the expensive pro-end software to edit video, make a Web site, and to record their band’s music – thinking that they need extra software to accomplish their task… and why not? That’s what they’re used to doing on a PC. In nearly every case, they could have easily accomplished everything they wanted to do for free with the software included on their Mac (although I am happy to help them learn the pro apps too).

MS founded it’s business and its operating systems on enterprise-level application for corporations with dozens of IT professionals on staff full-time. It made some adjustments and tried to have its pool of software programmers design additional applications to draw in home users. The Mac on the other hand has been designed for the home and small business user from the start. It has been built to survive without the help of constant on-call IT. MS Office, Quicken and QuickBooks, all of the Adobe programs, plus thousands of other software titles have been available on the Mac for many years. So, next time you spend $20-$149 on a PC app to do simple video editing, to burn a DVD or to write a newsletter, consider that those would have already been bundled and pre-installed on your Mac (included in the face price).

Games have traditionally been the shortfall of a Mac. Games like the Doom series, the Wolfenstein series, the Quake series, the Tom Clancy games, and Battlefield have all come out 6 months to 1 year later than the PC rivals. However, since 2006, Macs have been able to play both Windows and Windows-released video games quite adequately. So, you can buy the PC versions and play them on your Mac until the Mac versions come out. With the advent of the iPhone, video gaming has grown to be a Mac strong point. Many developers are expressing that they will program primarily or more extensively on the Mac and iPhone.

The question of Steve Jobs’ health isn’t truly a fear that Apple won’t succeed without him – Apple will succeed just fine. What’s truly at stake will be whether the Mac benefits will continue to exist and to be a strong point or whether it will become a generic PC clone in the process. Apple is currently roughly 70 percent the size of Microsoft now. MSFT has been on the decline since 2000 while AAPL has increased by 2,857 percent and now represents about 15 percent of all new OS purchases.

Hmmm… maybe I should repost this on my personal tech blog at

My point was that rather than buy software, if you’re considering buying a new $400 PC and a $129 program, consider buying a new $500 Mac Mini. It doesn’t take too long at all to learn the OS and the apps. You’ll be video-editing, burning DVDs, writing newsletters and papers, surfing the net, playing video games, etc in no time. If worse comes to worse, it comes with tutorials, help menus, manuals, online communities and helps, etc. If you can afford more, there’s always the mid-priced iMacs and the high-end 8-core (Intel Xeon “Nehalem” processors) Mac Pro. Good luck to you. Regardless of what you do, I hope you can get it done without too much hassle and training time.