For consumer level authoring of DVD menus I don't think there's anything that comes close to DVDLab
- it won't do encoding but they sell TMPGEnc DVD Source Creator
The DVDLab Studio version is probably the best all round version of the three DVDLab versions at US$129, I use it, (well, I actually use the Pro version because I want to mix aspect ratios on a single DVD), and considering what you can do, it is extremely simple to use.
For encoding, I've used:
encoder - blindingly fast and good quality (I've only used their original MPEG2 encoder which they no longer sell, having been replaced by Reference and CODEC plugins which are ridiculously expensive). SMP capable - the more processors, the better,CCE Trial
version - good quality but nowhere near as fast as MainConcept (and the trial version is severely limited)TMPGEnc
- good quality output but very slow compared to the above two
- It'll take most files as an input and then you just select DVD from the Auto menu (although the latest build seems to be missing the script for that, 2.4.4 still has it though - they've changed the scripting slightly and haven't caught up I think) - good output and fast - what I mostly use these days since it lets me do some editing as well. Also SMP capable.
(AIO convert and simple menu)WinAVI Video Converter
- reasonable quality, fast and let's you merge clips and automatically create a menu with a button per clip - I used to use it a lot for MPEG4 to DVD but I now have a standalone that does MPEG4-ASP so don't bother with it.
So, after that lot what I basically use these days is:
DVDLab Pro almost exclusively if I have to author a DVD with/without menus;
Avidemux for basic editing and conversion;
A really old version of Sony Vegas 5.0 that I picked up cheap on ebay, (or a computer swap meet, I forget where), if I have to do any more involved editing with transformations or have to resync video/audio before conversion, (being able to see the waveform together with video makes it so much easier than just trying to listen).
For a cheap selection I'd probably recommend:
DVDLab Standard + TMPGEnc DVD Source Creator - It will let you do quality conversion and DVD authoring for US$111, (as long as you don't need the features of Studio or Pro, eg. if you need SubTitles you have to get at least Studio).
Avidemux - for basic editing and fast decent quality conversion of a variety of video formats.
I should mention there are freeware DVD authoring programs but I can't comment on them, as soon as I tried DVDLab I was sold
Oh yeah, for burning - always and only ImgBurn
is what I use.