No, there is no trial.
The issue has been Adobe having to pay for codec licenses even for a trial.They resolved this for some of the apps, but apparently not for Encore, or perhaps there is some other reason.
Encore is one of the weaker of the Adobe video related apps, but is used successfully by a lot of professionals. It is based on the sonic authorcore, but does not have the features of their top of the line products. For example, no scripting. Some of its recent problems/feature limitations are reportedly being addressed in CS6, due out soon. If you buy CS5.5 now, you get an upgrade to CS6 for no extra cost.
But yes, the only way to try Encore is to buy. Ask their sales people about the specifics of their money back offer.
Thank you very much, Stan. Your details on the specifics of Encore are really helpful. Does it do well with pop-up menus? I've been considering using Final Cut Pro, but I've Googled and have found no answers on whether it can support pop up menus. I'm thinking you'd have to take the FCP project out and put it into DVD Pro, make the menus that way, but I'd hate to buy two products to do one project where Encore could possibly handle it by itself... What do you think?
I don't believe DVD Pro supports Blu-ray at all. I think you can use Compressor to create a "play only" Blu-ray but obviously no menus or anything.
Even still, I think it's next to impossible to find a Blu-ray burner that works on a Mac. Steve Jobs decided that optical media was on the way out 3 years ago and so that's the company line to this day. I burn hundreds of Blu-ray videos for clients each year, Adobe and Windows 7 have allowed me to do so.
Really not trying to start a flame war, but it's pretty obvious that one solution (Adobe on a PC) allows you to make a Blu-ray disc which seems very simple to me these days....the other system (FCS on a Mac) does not allow it, or at least makes it rather complicated.
Once you get Encore installed, if you have been used to using DVD Studio Pro, you are going to be very happy.
Ah! Thank you both so much!! I knew Encore supported Blu Ray, but I didn't know if FCS or DVD Pro did. Now I have my answer! Thank you both so very, VERY much!! I really appreciate it. If I created a Blu Ray file for the pop-up menu, would I HAVE to run it on a Blu Ray DVD, or could I play the file straight from my computer without burning?
There are some viewers/players out there that will let you playback a disc image file on your computer. Never used any of them. Encore has a "export to web" function that preserves your project just like playing back a disc (menus and all) as a Flash SWF file that you can use to playback on your computer or post to a webserver. Very cool!
BUT - apparently in Encore CS5 and previous you couldn't use Blu-ray popup menus in the web export (never tried it myself). HOWEVER, in Encore CS6 they've changed the "export to web" feature a good bit and it appears it no longer uses Flash video format and now you can export full Blu-ray menus, popups and all. So that's probably worth investigaging more next week when they release the full details about Creative Suite 6.
(SIDEBAR: There's no such thing as a Blu-ray DVD...that's like saying "a DVD VHS" and Sony will get very upset with you if you start calling their Blu-ray a DVD).
If I created a Blu Ray file for the pop-up menu, would I HAVE to run it on a Blu Ray DVD, or could I play the file straight from my computer without burning?
I'm not sure what you mean by the "file" for the "popoup menu." The popup menu is an overlay that "popos up" over the "background" video (which is your main content - a timeline in the Encore project).
I assume you are asking whether you can play the Bluray on the computer, if you build it to a folder or image rather than to a disk. As Christian says, the answer is yes. But the navigation is often a problem unless you use one of the not free players. Look at Total Media Theater 5 or Power DVD.
I'm also looking forward to what the export to web options are. The export to flash was promoted when first added, proved very limited, but has added flexibility and features with each release.