Toast 6 Titanium, by Roxio
Posted: 6-Jan-2004

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Roxio Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Lane Smith Class: MULTIMEDIA

Overview
Roxio's long proceeded reputation of Toast continues with its new edition, Toast 6 Titanium. Toast 6 Titanium offers several new useful and complete features that take advantage of today's digital life, along with the well-known features from former versions. Toast fulfills the requirements to burn CD-R/CD-RW and DVD-R/DVD-RW discs on any, internal or external, CD, DVD, or CD/DVD recorder. Finally, Toast supports Video CDs (VCDs), providing the power of movie burning to those without a SuperDrive.

From Roxio:
Toast 6 Titanium, the newest and fastest version of Roxio's award winning CD/DVD burning software, is the foundation of your digital life. Toast helps you do even more with iTunes, iPhoto, and iMovie. Now it's easier than ever to make the most of your data, music, photos, and video.


Pricing
Download- $99.95; Boxed- $99.95
At the time of this review, Roxio.com offers a special promotional offer for Toast 6 Titanium: $69.95 for Boxed, and $89.95 for Download, after rebates.

Test System

  • 800 MHz G4 Processor iMac with 512 MB of Memory
  • Mac OS 10.2.8 installed
  • Internal ATAPI Pioneer DVD-RW DVR-104 Recorder
  • QuickTime 6.4


System Requirements

  • Power Macintosh G3 or higher (G4 recommended for encoding)
  • Mac OS 10.2 or higher installed
  • 200 MB of free hard disk space
  • Approx. 2 GB of hard disk space for 10 minutes of digital video
  • QuickTime 6 or later
  • CD or DVD recorder
  • Recordable CDs or DVDs


Installation & Setup
Installing Toast requires admin privileges, and the installation choices were a bit mysterious. The installer gives you two choices: Toast Only or Full Install. Toast Only is a 15 MB installation, while Full Install is an a 167 MB installation. It wasn't clear what that extra 153 MB of software included. It would have been nice to know that I could just do the 15 MB installation and get all the functionality out of Toast. Now knowing, I opted for the Full Install (hoping it wasn't just 153 MB of unneeded shareware).

The full install only took a few minutes, and I found that none of my hard disk space had been squandered. The extras included in Full install are full versions of CD Spin Doctor 2, Motion Pictures 1.0, Discus RE 2.74, and Discus RE Artwork. It also included a 132-page "Getting Started" PDF Manual and some "Help Viewer" files. However, I was a little disappointed to find out that none of the extra resources that were included in Toast 5, such as photographs, plug-ins, and MP3s, are included in Toast 6.

Upon first running the Toast application, you are guided through a Setup assistant, including screens for an initial greeting, the legal agreement, and personalization and serial number. You are also presented with two more installation options: Toast It and Déjá Vu. After installing those, the next phase of the assistant question whether Toast should start up if a blank CD or DVD is inserted. Finally, the last step asked whether I would like to register my product, and after clicking "Finish", Toast was ready to go.

Updating
I ran Toast 6.0 and the additional software flawlessly for the first few days. Then I decided to look for updates, and downloaded the Toast 6.3 update from the Roxio web site. I was a little annoyed at how Roxio had presented the update. Instead of including a standard update application or installer, it was a completely new installation. It did not simply update my existing application, nor did it offer to clean up my old files. Therefore, you need to manually delete your old applications and files to keep your folders clean. The other annoyance is that I had to do the Setup assistant completely over again. In the end, I didn't notice any difference between 6.0 and 6.3 in terms of features or stability.

Support
The supplied documentation, a Getting Started Guide and "Help Viewer" files, was sufficient to use Toast. The guide is very comprehensible and can be finished and understood in a few minutes. The Getting Started Guide seems to cover every question, and for the uncovered questions in the Getting Started Guide, the "Help Viewer" will most likely cover it. However, if there is an unanswered question or problem, you can take advantage of Roxio's message board or web-based support library after registering Toast online. All in all, there is a great foundation of support for Toast. Still, Toast's interface and ideas are so simple and intuitive, most use of the software can be done without reading any material at all.

Interface
Toast's interface is one of the simplest, yet powerful, available to Mac OS X. It follows the path of the drag-and-drop features in Apple's iLife, yet offers fast, processional features as well. Disecting the interface, the Toast window includes a tabbed top, a drag-n-drop target zone in the middle, command center on the bottom, and an options sidebar.

Media Tabs: One of the recognizable features in the top of Toast's interface. The familiar "Data", "Audio", and "Copy" tabs still remain, but the "Other" tab has been replaced by a more descriptive "Video" tab


Top - Media Tabs

Target Zone: The middle of Toast is used as the drag-and-drop target zone where media can be easily dropped when preparing for a disk burn.


Middle - Drag-n-Drop Target Zone

Command Center: Used as the command center of Toast, the bottom contains the blue disc capacity meter, a very useful feature that tells you at a glance how much CD or DVD disc space you have available, the record button, new folder button, add button, and remove button. Also on the bottom of the interface is displayed the name and model of your disc recorder, and the recorder settings button, which you can use in order to change your recording settings.


Bottom - Command Center

Options Menu: The sidebar includes an options menu, a hybrid of simplicity and professionalism. The "Basic" tab displays a quick and easy option menu of 2 or 3 options, while the "Advanced" tab displays all features on the "Basics" tab plus several professional options, such as encryption, compression, and HFS Standard settings.


Sidebar - Basic and Advanced Options

In Use
Toast's recording procedures are simple and quick, and rival iLife's recording features. For the most part, dropping your files into the appropriate tabbed Drop Zone, inserting a blank disc, and clicking on the Record Button is all that is required to record.

With the iLife suite freely available to Mac users, some may question the need for an application like Toast. To illustrate the difference, this review will compare Toast with Apple's homegrown (and free with OS X) utilities for performing similar functions.

Data Disc Recording: Toast vs. Finder + Disk Copy
Finder and Disc Copy come built-in to Mac OS X, and support drag-and-drop data disk burning, comparable to Toast's "Data" tab.

Toast Titanium 6
In order to burn a data CD with Toast, all that is required is to select the "Data" tab, drag the appropriate files into the Drop Zone, modify your recording options, click the Record button, and pop in a blank CD/DVD. Available recording options in the "Data" tag are: Mac Only, Mac & PC, DVD-ROM (UDF), ISO 9660, Custom Hybrid, and Mac Volume. Further available customizable options included with the Mac Only recording are the abilities to compress files, encrypt files, copy desktop database, and HFS Standard recording for Mac OS 9 and below. Copy desktop database and HFS Standard options are also available for the Mac & PC recording option.
Finder + Disk Copy
Finder can also burn a data CD, with much of the same ease. With Disk Copy, you can compress data and encrypt files. To be able to burn a data CD with Finder, insert a recordable CD, open the volume, drag the proper files into the volume, and drag the volume onto the "Burn" icon in the dock, and wait briefly as the CD is recorded. To encrypt or compress the selected data, create a folder with all the correct files, open Disk Copy, drag the file into the Disk Copy drop zone, select the required image format (Compressed, read/write, read/only, CD/DVD master) and the type of encryption (none or AES-128), wait as Disk Copy creates a disk image file, insert a blank CD, and drag the disk image file into the CD volume, and drag the volume onto the "Burn" icon to finish. This creates an identical Mac Only data CD compared to what Toast can do, but with a longer preparation time. Finder does not provide any other recording options as Toast does, which includes ISO 9660, Custom Hybrid, Mac Volume, and HFS Standard recording options.

Winner = Toast Titanium 6
Toast's pre-recording procedures are quicker, simpler, and more complete than Finder's/Disk Copy's.


Audio CD Recording: Toast vs. iTunes
iTunes is part of Apple's iLife suite that comes with Mac OS X, and supports burning audio CDs. Toast not only can burn any audio format recognized by QuickTime, but also enhances audio CD and MP3 recording by eliminating hassles that iTunes presents.

Toast Titanium 6
Once again, recording with Toast is as easy as selecting the Audio tab, dragging the proper audio files into the Drop Zone, customizing the recording options, pressing the record button, and inserting a blank CD to record to. You can drag any QuickTime recognizable audio files from any folder into the Audio Drop Zone, or you can drag song titles directly from iTunes onto the Audio Drop Zone. The Audio tab also provides several recording options, which include recording an Audio CD, MP3 Disc, Enhanced Audio CD, or a Mixed Mode CD (audio and data). The Audio CD and Enhanced Audio CD options also provide the selection to include CD-TEXT with the recorded Audio CD.
iTunes 4
iTunes is also able to record an Audio CD or a MP3 Disc; however, creating an Audio CD with iTunes is a pure hassle if you haven't already set up a play-list for the songs you want to record. First, you must create a completely new play-list containing the songs you want to record on an Audio CD, go to iTunes -> PreferencesÍ, click on the "Burning" tab, and select the correct audio recording preference: Audio CD, MP3, or Data Disc. After you have set up the pre-recording feature, make sure you have the right play-list selected, click the burn button in the top right corner, insert a blank CD, and click the "Burn" button once again.


Winner = Toast

iTunes is a great application for organizing and playing music on your Mac, but when it comes to recording audio CDs, Toast allows more precise recording options and quicker organization of files.


Video CD/DVD Recording: Toast vs. iDVD
Toast supports encoding and burning video on VCD, SVCD, and DVD; its only rival being iDVD, the near-professional DVD authoring application that comes with Apple's iLife suite.

Toast Titanium 6
Like the other tabs, the Video tab has a practical Video Drop Zone, in which you can place any video files recognized by QuickTime, to complete your video burn. Toast gives the option of recording a VCD, DVD, and now SVCD (Super Video CD). The difference between the three is determined on the media they are recorded on, and the quality. VCD and SVCD are both recorded on CDs and can be played in most DVD players, but a SVCD has more quality video and less total data capacity than that of a VCD. DVDs have both a huge data capacity and excellent quality video, at the cost of price and encoding time. On average, a 10-minute video took about an hour to encode and record onto a DVD, while a VCD and SVCD with a 10-minute video took about 5 minutes to encode and record. In addition to these recording options, Toast allows the options to change the video quality (Standard or High), add original photos for photo slideshows, create VCD/DVD menus, and add data content to a DVD.

To start your VCD/SVCD/DVD project, select the Video tab, choose your recording options, and drag any video files into the Video Drop Zone. Toast also allows the opportunity to create and customize still picture slideshows. To do this, simply drag any one photo from any folder, or directly from iPhoto, onto the Video Drop Zone. Then click on the "Edit" button next to the photo, click on the "Slideshow" tab, customize your slideshow options (slide duration), and drag other photos from folders or iPhoto onto the Slideshow list to complete the slideshow. Once all the proper video and slideshows have been added, click the record button, insert a CD or DVD, and wait while the files are encoded and recorded. As a note, Toast does not give you the option to select the VCD/DVD theme, where the standard and only theme is a static, abstract water-like background with square buttons.
iDVD 3
iDVD not only allows easy-to-use menu and drop-and-drag options, but professional themes and setups. All that is required to use and record iDVD is to drag the appropriate video files and photo files, for slideshows, onto iDVD's drop zones, customize the settings, and insert a DVD. Even though the simplicity is matched with Toast, iDVD's professionalism is far beyond that of Toast's. However, there are some drawbacks when using iDVD. For one thing, there is no option to record any media other than expensive DVDs, unlike Toast's VCD/SVCD options. Also, iDVDs encoding and burning "calculations" (showing progress) are grossly inaccurate; whereas, Toast does a reasonable job of telling me accurately how many more minutes I have to wait.


Winner = iDVD 3

Toast's broader media options and cheaper resources give iDVD a run for the money, but in the end, iDVD with it's customizable features and numerous themes edges out Toast for DVD recording.


CD/DVD Copy: Toast vs. Finder
Like Toast, the Mac OS X Finder provides the ability to burn copies of CD's and DVDs.

Toast Titanium 6
Toast offers simple CD/DVD copying features in which you can quickly copy and burn a CD or DVD. Toast offers several recording options to record: CD/DVD copy, Image File copy, BIN/CUE Files copy, Multi-Track CD-ROM XA copying, and CD-i copying. Each option requires for the appropriate volume or files selected in order to be copied and recorded. As for basic CD/DVD copying, click on the Copy tab, insert the CD/DVD to be copied, click the Record button to copy, eject the CD/DVD after copying, insert a recordable CD/DVD, and click the Record button to begin recording the copied files. This ability works great for iDVD-made DVDs, Audio CDs, data discs, and anything Toast created.

Finder
Finder can also copy files in much of the same way as Toast. Insert the disc to be copied, control-click on the volume, select "Duplicate" from the menu, eject the disc, insert a recordable disc, drag the duplicated files into the volume, and drag the volume onto the "Burn" icon on the dock. The Finder, however, does not provide many of the various options that Toast includes, such as CD-i burning.


Winner = Toast Titanium 6

Though very similar methods, Toast does the job faster, easier, and with more options.

After all tests, Toast Titanium 6 provides options and ease-of-use that go beyond the media burning functions of Apple's iLife and Finder, beating the competition in almost every category. In fact, Toast 6 serves as a great compliment to Apple's iLife suite, making it fast and easy to put the fruits of your creative labor onto CD or DVD.

Extra Features and Apps
The following features and applications come with the Toast Titanium 6 package.

Toast It

Toast It is a wonderful little feature that allows you to control-click on any file or folder, select "Toast It" from the menu, and it will instantly start Toast and set up a data CD with the file/folder you selected.

Toast Anywhere

Toast now allows you to share CD/DVD burners among limitless computers across any network (including the internet). Run Toast on your Mac, and burn a CD on your father's CD-RW drive across the country.

Encryption and Compression

Toast supports encrypting data on Mac Only CDs with 128-bit encryption. Likewise, Toast can also compress the data on a Mac Only CD. It boasts that it can compress data up to 50%, but in my test, a 20 MB file was compressed to 17.7 MB (12%). Compression percentages will vary depending up on the type of files being compressed.

Déjá Vu

Déjá Vu is an automatic backup feature than will burn CDs with pre-selected files or folders routinely (using a schedule).

CD Spin Doctor 2

CD Spin Doctor 2 is a digitizing application included with the "Full Install" that allows you to digitize old vinyl records and cassettes, and remove pops, clicks, hums, and add other filters. It also supports live audio recording with a microphone attached to the computer, but in all of my tests, I had to resort to "Force Quit" each time I tried to record live audio.

Motion Picture

Also included in the "Full Install", Motion Picture allows you to add zoom and pan motion to still digital pictures. This application never gave me problems, and looks much more professional then iMovie's "Ken Burns" effects.

Discus RE 2.74

Discus RE is a shareware application, also included in the "Full Install", and allows you to create disc labels and CD case labels. The application allows you to save projects, print, and perform all operations. The only restriction is the number of pre-made disc themes available. The unregistered version allows you to use 50 disc themes, and the registered version ($20 shareware fee) unlocks hundreds more themes. All of the themes are very cool, set up is quick and easy, and the application gave me no problems whatsoever.

Summary
Toast Titanium 6 is a multi-feature multimedia application for burning CDs, VCDs, and DVDs. Preparing the media for burning is quick and easy, and encoding and burning is just as fast. During the review, I recorded several VCDs and SVCDs, a few DVDs, many backup data CDs, and some Audio CDs, all with ease and without any problems. Toast's interface is neatly polished and organized, with several customizable options. As for the new features, from Motion Picture to Toast It, all of it was easy to use, providing me with more functionality to increase my productivity. I did experience trouble with CD Spin Doctor 2, and am looking forward for an update to fix the live audio recording problem.

Although Apple's iLife programs and the Finder support much of the functionality provided in Toast, I found Toast easier to use, with faster burning speeds, and more versatile to fulfill all my recording needs. Overall, Toast Titanium 6 is a worthy product to the Macintosh and is well worth its price.

Pros

  • Polished and organized interface
  • Easy to learn with good support
  • Professional recording options
  • Ability to burn VCDs and SVCDs
  • Well integrated with iLife apps
  • Quick and easy pre-flight procedures
  • High-speed encoding and burning
  • Easier to use than iLife apps burning features
  • Productive new features
  • Useful included apps
  • Stable and reliable


Cons

  • Basic DVD burning features fall short of iDVD features
  • Installation and setup could be easier
  • CD Spin Doctor is problematic when it comes to audio recording
  • Updates don't replace existing app, and require repeated setup


Overall Rating

4 out of 5 Mice