DVDit! AUTHORING REVIEW:
== 1. This is quite actually still "cheap" software, as it's no more than $400 for the PE version. There are several packages available, the LE that comes with computers and other items (Limited Edition), the SE that is the full package without AC3 (Standard Edition), and the PE that is the full package plus it has DLT ability (something I don't even use) and then the AC3 import (use all the time) and AC3 encoder for audio (again, something I use less and less). More info here:
== 2. The only real authoring "flaws" is the inability to do motion in the menu (although it can still do audio menus quite nicely), the inability to natively accept AC3 if already encoded (which is probably just a way to get $100 more for PE), the inability to do mutliple VTS (which is understandable), and the refusal to take imperfect assets (which again, is very understandable).
== 3. Never let this thing encode video. The encoder, quite frankly, sucks. Poor, poor quality, and it'll take ages to finish. Use it only for authoring.
== 4. Never let this thing burn your DVD. The burning engine is subpar, and has zero options (like controlling burn speed, etc). It tends to hang and has a flaw in some versions that can overburn the DVD past 4472MB. I author to a folder, and then let a real burning program do the burning of the disc. Doing this adds no time.
== 5. The PE AC3 encoder is SLOWWWWWWWW. Horribly slow. I have found almost no drawbacks from using BeSweet with AC3ENC.DLL to encode my files. Only rarely does some audio "crack" from AC3ENC.DLL, so I'll use SoftEncode or DVDit! PE for the AC3 encoding instead. The only players known to me to consistantly reject the AC3ENC.DLL files are the Pioneer DV-333 and DV-334 players (which are horrid players anyway for even commercial discs). This is an almost unused feature for me.
== 6. Perfect handling of the fonts, layout, and images. What I see on screen is the SAME QUALITY of what I get on my tv set. For this, it's the perfect medium-spectrum program, and one I use most often.
== 7. Be warned that the "safe areas" are unmarked. They are non-symmetric also. Here's a layout PSD file for use in Photoshop with the guides pre-marked. Click here to get it.
== 8. The preview function is buggy. Save your project OFTEN, and especially before trying a preview. On my WinME system, preview now crashes 100% of them time, but a reinstall would probably help me out. My own fault for not wanting to do it.
== 9. You MUST have elementary streams. This means you need an M2V/M1V and a WAV/AC3 file. It refuses MP2 audio in NTSC mode because it is not an official DVD audio format. This is easy to do with a demux of the MPEG/MPG files.
== OVERALL. This is a perfect program for 90% of my needs. Only when I need motion menus, or have imperfect sources do I stray to TMPGENC DVD AUTHOR or REELDVD or DVD STUDIO PRO. The more complex the software, the harder the learning curve. I've seen Maestro, Scenarist and other pro softwares ... and I'd be hard-pressed to learn them. For casual home needs, for making pro-quality discs, this is my #1 suggestion. The only other "competitor" is Ulead software's DVD WORKSHOP, but it's in the same price range, and not as user-friendly, and suffers from some of the same flaws. Plus it likes to crash a lot.
Anything else... let me know.