Toast 5 Titanium, by Roxio
Posted: 2-September-2001

5 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Roxio Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Tom Leahey Class: MULTIMEDIA

Retail Price
$99 (street price as low as $82).

Test Setup

  • Apple PowerMacintosh G3 266MT, AV, 10GB HD, 512MB RAM
  • Mac OS 9.0.4, also MacOS 9.1
  • QuickTime Pro v4.1.2
  • ATAPI Sony Spressa CDRW 8x4x32x drive - Model CRX140E/CH2 (in place of original Apple 24X CD). This is the same CDRW used in Apple's desktop models.

also

  • Apple iBook (Dual USB) 500MHz G3, 10GB HD, 384 MB RAM
  • Mac OS 9.1, also 9.2.1
  • QuickTime 5.0.2
  • Built-in CDR-DVD Drive


Review Note
I've been a Toast 4 user previously, having bought a copy when I purchased my Sony CDRW drive for my PowerMac G3MT. I've also recently reviewed
Charismac's Discribe 4.0, the primary, full-featured CD-R/RW authoring competitor to Toast. I'm also experienced with Apple's Disc Burner and iTunes software vis-a-vis their CD authoring capabilities. I may make references to Toast 4, Discribe 4 or Disc Burner in this review to note some comparisons, but this is not a full-up head-to-head compare review. I use my CD burner a lot, and in support of lots of different CD authoring tasks. From my previous good experience with Toast 4, I was anxious to see what Roxio had done with Toast 5.

Description
Toast Titanium is a full featured CD and DVD authoring package from Roxio (formerly Adaptec). It provides capabilities to use a CD-R/CD-RW (or DVD-R/DVD-RW or DVD-RAM) device on your Mac, regardless of whether it's SCSI/ATAPI, USB or Firewire-based. Nowadays Toast comes with a suite of support applications (and MP3 and Image Sample Libraries).

Installation
My first surprise was the size of the install. The installer weighed in at a whopping 103 MB! My first reaction was to wonder "what the heck have they bundled with or done to Toast?" As I ran the installer, I was hoping it would let me know. But alas, all it offerred were the choices to install "Toast Only" or "Full Install", and it gave no indication what was included in either. This is not a good installer design. I did a "Full Install", and crossed my fingers as to what I'd be getting. Luckily, the installer did at least create an Install Log so I could find out what it decided to put where.

It installs 4 extensions - Toast CD Reader, Toast Firewire Support, Toast USB Support, and Toast Video CD Support into your System Folder. It also installs a second copy of these file, minus the Video CD one, into an "Extensions" folder within the Toast application's folder. (In fact I later found that it's possible to run the Toast application with no Toast extensions loaded in your System Folder, possibly because it finds and uses these copies in the same folder with the app.)

It adds a Toast Help collection to your System Folder: Help folder.

It created a Roxio Toast Titanium folder and installed the Toast 5 app and a bundle of other stuff in there:

  • a Roxio Music folder which contained an MP3 file collection folder (17 free songs from artists unknown to me). Also placed in this folder was a folder for Adaptec's CD Spin Doctor (an excellent 2 track audio recording/editing tool, which supports Steinberg VST plugins for audio processing. It bundles in an adjustable noise and pop filter, as well as the Realizer aural enhancement filter. CD Spin Doctor also has a button to auto-send recorded tracks to Toast.) It also had a folder for Toast Audio Extractor (extracts and converts songs from an Audio CD and saves them in several Mac sound file formats), and one for QDesign's MVP (an MP3 and digital audio player and file converter -- unregistered version).

  • a Roxio Photo folder containing folders for iView Multimedia (a cool graphics cataloger/manager application), plus a collection of 31 Photographic images from noted photographer James Beal.

  • a Roxio Video folder containing a copy of the Toast Video CD Support extension, a plug-in for Apple's iMovie (Toast Video CD Export) and an instructional document explaining how to use these to convert iMovies into Video CDs that can be played in most home DVD players.

  • a Roxio Data folder which contained a folder for CD Label creation and printing software (Magic Mouse's Discus RE), and a folder containing a set of CD Label printing templates designed to work with a number of popular applications (AppleWorks, Freehand, and Quark).


A wealth of stuff, for sure. However, before I got on with some serious testing, I wanted to make sure I was using the latest version. Upon stepping over to Roxio's excellent website, sure enough, I found a Toast Titanium 5.0.1 Updater was available. While there I checked out their latest FAQs and info on their Toast offering. Upon downloading the updater, it ran without a hitch (it updated only the Toast app, the Toast extensions and the the Help system).

Documentation
Toast comes with web-based Help using Apple's built-in help system, as well as Apple Guide support. It has a few small helpful Readme files, and the bundled apps come with several PDF files for documentation. The Toast package also comes with a well-written User's Guide, but Toast is so well designed and easy to use, that I found I never had a need to reference the User's Manual, except out of curiosity. There is a wealth of information in the manual, as it provides good background reading for CD burning in general as well as technical information about Toast.

Operation
I put Toast Titanium through a number of planned tests for this review. I also made notes and observations throughout my experience during my routine CD burner usage over the last several weeks.

Toast provides a Check Speed function to allow you to see if the data rate reading/writing from your source data locations is fast enough to keep up with the constant throughput rate needed for a Burn. It also has a "simulation" mode to proof a particular CD burn (all aspects of the program run as if it's doing an actual burn, but no data is written to disc). Personally, I rarely use the latter, and always use the former.

In Toast Preferences, I allocated the max RAM Cache size, 64MB to Toast, and told it to use one of my faster, most empty disks as its Disk Cache. I noticed that Toast 5 doesn't have a "Mount CDROM" menu choice as the previous version of Toast did. I have found it's quite handy to get the sometimes inattentive Roxio CD Driver to notice a disk has been inserted. Sure enough this happened once to me, and luckily I found a surprising new solution: Launch Apple's System Profiler and the 'stuck/sleepy' CD mounts!

Overall, I noticed that Toast Titanium seems be be much nimbler and lightweight on system resources than previous versions of Toast as well as Discribe 4. It now behaves much better when running/burning in the background. I was able to burn a backup data CD while simultaneously websurfing, emailing, and listening to an internet radio MP3 stream. Very Nice.

Data CDs
I was able to burn both HFS and HFS+ formatted Mac CDs. I also burned a cross-platform Windows & Mac CD. I was able to produce bootable CDs, as well as data archive CDs. I used it's Temporary Partition capability to 'on-the-fly' create a temporary partition on one of my disks, and then copied files and folder to that partition when I ran into situations where the speed transfering data from it's original locations proved too slow (i.e. it failed a Checvk Speed).

I was also able to use Toast's built-in Disc Image support to faithfully dupe CDs with only a single drive. In one Multisession test I burned a 414MB folder to disc and I was able to burn another session to this same disc on an iBook also running Toast 5. I find multi-session CDs to be quite handy, and use them all the time. Sadly, Apple's Disc Burner doesn't support Multi-session format (a good enough reason to get Toast to extend the capabilities of your burner).

Music CDs
I was able to burn several MP3 CDs. As for all formats, Toast flexibly let me rearrange files/folders, edit files names, and delete icons and other hidden/useless files (text files, playlists, and some subfolders). These MP3 CDs are playable in the many popular new MP3 CDROM audio players. I was also able to create many Audio CDs using Toast Titanium. It's CD audio extraction capabilities are excellent. I was able to set customizable 'lead/intro' times for each track (even set to 0 for seamless playback). I used Toast Audio Extractor to rip songs from several of my CDs and used Toast to rearrange and mix the extracted tracks to burn a custom audio CD.

Toast now uses FreeDB for Audio CD titles/tracks/artists lookup - a great feature that saves much typing. However, if you prefer, you can point it to other internet Audio CD databases, such as CDDB, in the application preferences. A new feature I discovered and tried is that Toast now can use QuickTime to handle audio conversion/extraction in formats for which it has no built-in support (like ripping an audio track from a QuickTime movie). I did not get to test Titanium's new DVD or Video CD burning capabilities.

Summary
I was successfully able to produce all CDs I attempted, varying from 8X to 4X - Audio CDs, Mac Data CDs (HFS/HFS+, both single and multi-session), multi-platform Data CDs, MP3 CDs, etc. I found the program a pleasure to use - very intuitive, yet loaded with nice timesaving features. It's interface is now more modern looking (think Aqua) and streamlined, with less model interaction. It seems to work much better in the background than any of the other CD burning software, including previous versions of Toast. I found several of the bundled applications to be useful (most notably Toast Audio Extractor, CD Spin Doctor and Magic Mouse Discus). In my opinion, Toast Titanium is the most full featured and capable modern Macintosh CD authoring application on the market.

I was able to use Toast 5 alongside Apple's iTunes and Disc Burner on a new iBook, without even having to install the Toast extensions. Ideally, you'd disable Apple's Firewire Authoring Support and USB Authoring support extensions, and substitute Roxio's two compatible equivalents if you wanted to use iTunes' built-in burning capabilities on a USB or Firewire connected CDRW.



Roxio Toast Titanium - System Requirements
  • Power PC or greater Macintosh
  • Mac OS 8.6 or better (OS X update available online)
  • ~20MB RAM for Toast application
  • iMovie 2.0.1 or later for Toast iMovie export plug-in support
  • Internet access for FreeDB song tracks lookup




Pros
  • Nice updated interface - it's both simpler and more powerful
  • Background processing during CD burns
  • Supports about every CD format known (including Video CDs, DVD-R, DVD-RW & DVD-RAM)
  • Several of it's bundled apps were quite good/complementary
  • Nice internet and MacOS integration - uses/supports FreeDB (or alternates) lookup for Audio CDs info, and uses Apple's CD Remote Programs file
  • Nearly fault-free CD burning


Cons

  • No options/info in the Installer to customize the installation
  • Mount CD option no longer available within the application
  • Has less support for older Macs/MacOSs/burners than Discribe 4


Overall Rating

5 out of 5 Mice