Toast 7 Titanium, by Roxio
Posted: 26-Feb-2007

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Roxio Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Robert Schumann Class: MULTIMEDIA

Overview
Toast 7 Titanium is the latest version of the highly regarded disc burning utility. Toast goes beyond the included OS X disc burning capabilities and adds features which make it extremely flexible to create various CD and DVD formats. Toast supports making data discs, audio discs, video disc, and copies of existing discs. Toast also supports exporting audio and video files to different format types.

The software was reviewed on a Power Macintosh G4 Quicksilver 867 MHz with 1.125 GB of RAM running Mac OS X 10.4.7 with a Pioneer DVR-107 optical drive (8x DVD-R / +R Writer). The Toast 7 Titanium software reviewed was version 7.1 which is the first Universal Binary version that supports Intel Macs.

Requirements

  • Macintosh computer with a PowerPC G4 processor or higher
  • CD or DVD recorder
  • Mac OS X v10.3.9 or higher
  • 300 MB hard disk space
  • Up to 15 GB of temporary free disk space during usage
  • QuickTime 7 or higher
  • The latest versions of iTunes, iPhoto and iMovie are recommended.


Setup
Toast 7 Titanium is supplied on a CD or can be purchased online and downloaded as a .dmg disk image. To install, simply drag the Toast 7 Titanium folder to the Applications folder on your hard disk. Before I launched the application for the first time, I downloaded the latest version from the Roxio web site. To update Toast, simply double-click on the downloaded .dmg file which will mount the disk image on your desktop. Drag the new Toast application to the Toast 7 Titanium folder and replace the existing file. There were also updates to two of the other included applications, CD Spin Doctor and Discus RE. Drag those files to the Additional Software sub-folder and replace the existing files. When Toast is first launched, the Setup Assistant will guide you through the initial setup including entering the required CD key and registering with Roxio. You are also given the option to install the Deja Vu backup scheduler, the Toast It contextual menu addition, and a DivX Playback QuickTime plug-in.


Toast 7 Titanium Disc


In Use
When you first launch Toast 7 Titanium, you are presented with the main window with four tab selections for each type of disc that can be created.


Data, Audio, Video, and Copy Disc Tabs


At the bottom of the Toast window is the command center. This area contains contains the green disc capacity meter, a very useful feature that tells you at a glance how much CD or DVD disc space you have available, the big red record button, and the media type popup (for selecting CD, DVD or Dual-Layer DVD). To the right of the record button, Toast displays the name and model of your disc recorder, along with a settings pop-up on the right and a eject button on the left. The settings pop-up lets you access the recorder settings, and lets you change the recorder (if you have more than one recorder).


Toast Command Center

In addition to these basic commands, there are also a set of commands available which change with the tab selected. When the data tab is selected, you have buttons for New Folder, Add, Remove, and Info. With the Audio tab selected, you have controls for Add, Remove, Info, Export, and general player controls. With the Video tab selected, you have controls for Add, Remove and Info. There are no buttons available here when the Copy tab is selected.

Create a Data Disc:

If you wish to create a disc that contains any kind of files and folders, then you will want to create a "Data" disc. Creating a Data disk can be accomplished using the Finder, but you either have to insert a blank disc or create a burn folder then drag files to it. I found it easier, more intuitive, and more flexible to use Toast to create Data discs.


Data Disc Window with Content Area

With the Data tab selected, files and folders may be dragged into the area shown. Alternately, you can click on the Add button and use the normal file selection dialog box to choose the files and folders. In the lower right corner of the Toast window is a large red record button. Above that button is a small drop-down menu where you can select the type of media to use, CD, DVD, or DVD DL (dual layer). To the left of the record button, is a small green button where you can change the recorder settings or select which recorder to use if more than one is available. The arc next to the record button will show the fill level of the chosen media. It will be green as it advances to full, turns orange when it hits just beyond the capacity of the media, and then turns red when the media capacity is further exceeded. If needed, you can change the media type to the next large capacity to get the arc meter back to green. If the arc meter is orange and you click on the record button, it will try to calculate if it can record but most likely will not be able to do so.

If you do not wish to burn a disc at that moment or want to preview the disc first, you can save to a disc image by using the "Save as Disc Image..." option from the File menu. To mount the Toast disc image, choose "Mount Disc Image..." from the Utilities menu. Or if you installed the Toast It option, you can use "Mount It" from the contextual menu.


Data Disc Window with Formats drawer


By default, Toast will call the disc you are creating "My Disc", but you can change it to the name of your choice by either clicking on the name next to the small disc icon above your files in the window, or by clicking the More button in the left drawer and changing it in the dialog box that appears.

Four format types are available for the disc you are creating: Mac Only, Mac & PC, DVD-ROM (UDF), and ISO 9660. In most cases, the Mac & PC format will be the best choice so that the disc may be read on a Mac or PC. Two other formats, Custom Hybrid and Mac Volume, are also available if you have selected "Show Legacy Formats and Settings" in the Toast Preferences.

I decided to create a Data DVD to backup all of the files I had on my old Mac. I dragged the three folders that contained everything from my Performa hard drives to the content drop area. Fortunately, everything would fit on one DVD. If it did not, I could have changed it to the Mac Only format which allows data spanning across multiple discs.

I then assigned a custom icon and background picture that can be accessed by clicking on the More button. I did not find it to be intuitive that the More button would get you to those options and I had to check the documentation on how to do this customization.

Since I am not a fan of making coasters (aka, wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing), I choose to save it as a disc image so I could first verify the results. The icon was correct, but all the folders shifted to the right and no background picture. I tried just custom icon with the same result. Next, I did it without the custom icon and the folders were placed in the correct position. I did not waste any discs, but I did waste quite a bit of time experimenting and creating new disc images. I wish there could be a quick preview of the layout results without having to save the disc image first. Once I was happy with the results, I mounted the disc image and burned it to a DVD-R disc.


Data Disc Window with More Format Options


Toast 7 Record Dialog Box



Create an Audio Disc:
If you want to create different types of Audio discs, Toast can accommodate your wishes. Formats supported include Audio CD, Music DVD, MP3 Disc, and Enhanced Audio CD. CD-Text is an option supported by the Audio and Enhanced Audio CD that allows for storage of additional text information (e.g. album name, song name, and artist). A Mixed Mode CD format is also available if you have selected "Show Legacy Formats and Settings" in the Toast Preferences.

If your playlist contains music purchased from the iTunes Music Store, your only option is to use iTunes. Music purchased from the iTunes Music Store are protected AAC files and only your authorized computers can play them or burn them to discs as non-protected files. Toast will not allow you add protected music to an Audio CD or Music DVD. It will allow you to add the protected files to a MP3 disc, but it will not convert them to a MP3 file, and you will only be able to play the protected files on an authorized computer. Of course, the way around the protected music hassle is to burn your purchased music to CD using iTunes, and then rip them back to your computer so that you will always have the unprotected versions of your music (and therefore can also burn them with other software, such as Toast).

You may ask, "Why not use iTunes to make an Audio CD or Music DVD?" Where Toast really shines with Audio CDs and DVDs is the ease of creating a song list in exactly the order you want.


Audio Disc Window with Formats drawer


I created an Audio CD by clicking on the Audio tab and selected the Audio CD format. To add songs to the CD, I either clicked the Add button to navigate to any QuickTime recognized audio file or used the Media Browser to find non-protected files in the iTunes library.


Audio Disc Window with Media Browser drawer

The Media Browser drawer cannot be widened, so it is a bit difficult to browse for music since the song and artist columns are limited. However, if you mouse over the song, a detailed information box will pop up. Songs can be easily re-arranged by dragging songs to the desired position. You can also play a selected song from within the Toast window to verify your selection.

When you hit the record button or save the disc as an image, Toast will convert all of the files to AIFF audio files that can be played on all audio CD players.

One great Toast feature that it not widely known is non-protected audio and video files can be easily exported to different formats. To do that for an audio file, select the song from the content area, then click on the Export button. Next, select the desired export format and save the new file. Supported audio formats are AIFF, WAV, AAC, Apple Lossless, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, and PSP audio.

Create a Video Disc:
Toast supports the creation of Video CD, Super Video CD, DVD-Video, and DivX disc formats. The DivX format is new to Toast 7 and DivX is a highly compressed video format that can fit much more content on a disc (comparable to MP3 compression of AIFF files). Many newer DVD players support DivX playback and Toast will optionally install a QuickTime plug-in to allow DivX playback with the QuickTime Player. Using Toast, you can create Video CDs and DVDs with selectable menu styles, automatic scene menus, and slide menus with shuffle mode. With the new functionality to compress a costly dual-layer DVD (unprotected) movie onto a standard 4.7 GB DVD, Toast 7 basically includes the functionality of its Popcorn product (a $50 value).

To create a Video DVD, click on the Video tab and select the DVD-Video format. My first project was to create a DVD with a one hour TV program I recorded using an AlchemyTV DVR PCI card. I had saved the video as a Motion-JPEG Format (.mov) and dragged .mov file to the Toast Content Area. For the Menu Style, I changed it to "Retro TV".


Video Disc Window with Formats drawer

I found the preview of the Menu Style to be too small to get a clear view of what the finished product would look like. For this disc, I did not include scene menus. Changing the disc name from the default My Disc was not obvious; you can either click on the current name above the Content area or click the More button to change the Disc Settings.


Video Disc Window with Formats - Disc Settings

Again, I saved as a Toast image file instead of directly burning to DVD disc. It took approximately 4.5 hours to process and save the image file. To mount and check the Toast image, I used Mount It from the contextual menu (installed with the Toast It contextual menu addition), and that also launched the DVD Player. The results were satisfactory, so I burned the image to a DVD-R disc. The good news is that, using the saved image, it did not take another 4.5 hours to burn the DVD. It took only around 12 minutes to burn the DVD (your speed may vary depending upon the speed of your DVD-R media). I played DVD in two different DVD players (Sony and Toshiba), two different Macs, and on a Windows XP PC, and it worked fine in all.

Toast allows you to edit a video clip so that you can change the start and stop points. It will not actually modify the original, but simply only render the selected portion of the video. To try this feature, I took a video clip that I recorded and selected the start and stop points in Edit Video window.


Video Disc Window with Edit Video

This feature is not nearly as sophisticated an editor as iMovie, but was adequate for this task. To set the start point, I played the clip until it reached the start point I wanted. On the progress bar, the start point marker was dragged to line up with the current position indicator and can be fine tuned by using the arrow buttons or keys. Similarly, the stop point marker was set. A specific picture for the menu button for this clip was set by stopping playback at the desired point and clicking on the "Set Button Picture" button. This scene will show as a button on the DVD menu. If the option "Include scene menus for video" is checked, Toast will automatically create scene menu buttons every five minutes for the clip. My experience with this was the scenes that were used started at the beginning of the original clip and not from the start of the selected portion.

As with the audio files, Toast can easily export QuickTime recognized, non-protected video files to different formats including for a video iPod. For the 14 minute video I created, here are the results for processing and exporting to four different formats:

  1. DVD, file size: 819.5 MB, 1 hour, 17 minutes to process
  2. SVCD, file size: 278.1 MB, 44 minutes to process
  3. iPod MPEG-4 (.m4v), file size: 162.4 MB, 47 minutes to process
  4. DivX, file size: 148.4 MB, 1 hour to process


Video Export Save as Dialog Box


Video and Audio Export Formats


Copy a Disc or Disc Image:
To copy an existing disc, click on the Copy tab. In the Formats drawer, select CD/DVD Copy. Insert the disc that you want to copy then click the red Record button and the Record Dialog Box will appear. Check the options then click the record button. After the source disc is read in, it is ejected and you are prompted to insert a blank recordable disc. After doing so, the disc is burned and verified. This works great with only a single optical drive. If you happen to have two optical drives, the process is even smoother, as Toast can just copy directly from one drive to the other.


Copy Disc Window with Formats drawer


I tried to copy a PC CD that contained JPEG picture files created by Kodak EasyShare. This Disk was a multi-session CD, meaning that multiple recording sessions occurred on the CD. Toast would only copy the first session, and unfortunately, that session did not contain the pictures. I checked the documentation and it indeed stated that Toast will only copy the first session of a multi-session data CD. To be fair, Apple's Disk Utility would not handle it either. I ended up creating a new data disc by selecting the Data tab and dragging the JPEG files to the Content Area. Given that there is this work around, and the fact that Toast can burn multiple session CDs, I found it a bit odd that Toast could not handle copying a multi-session disc, or at least allow you to select which session to copy.

To copy a disc image file to a CD or DVD, also click on the Copy tab. In the Formats drawer, select Image File. Next, drag the image file to the Content Area or use the Select button to navigate to the file. Now you can click the red Record button and the Record Dialog Box will appear. Check the options, insert a blank recordable disc, and then click the record button. The disc will then be burned and verified, the image never has to be mounted. It's that simple.


Copy Image File Window with Formats drawer


The ToastAnywhere Recorder Sharing feature allows you to share CD and DVD recorders across a network or the Internet with other Toast users. This feature is enabled from the Toast Preferences under Sharing. You can set it up to require a password to connect to the recorder on your computer. Toast must be installed on both machines to share a recorder. On my iMac G5, I have Toast 6 installed that also supports ToastAnywhere.

To choose an available recorder, click the green Recording Options button to the left of the red Record button. A list will pop up displaying your Mac's recorder(s) and any available on your network. From that list, select the recorder to use. I was able to connect to the Quicksilver's recorder from the iMac (e.g., using Toast 6, I could see the shared recorder). However, the iMac's recorder was not available from the Quicksilver (e.g., using Toast 7, I could not see the shared recorder). Both Macs were running 10.4.7, so I was unable to determine the cause of this issue.

A new feature for Toast 7 is the ability to compress and copy an entire non-protected 9 GB dual-layer DVD video to a standard 4.7 GB recordable DVD disc. This could be a great cost savings for those with plenty of 4.7GB discs that don't want to go out and buy dual-layer discs.

Toast Interface
For users of previous versions of Toasts, you'll be right at home with the interface. Most of the menus and widgets are right where you remember them to be, with a few extras added in. The interface design is quite intuitive and easy to use. The style and look of the interface seems to improve with each edition of the software. It sports a sleak and Mac Savvy appearance, and it is one of the most stable and reliable interfaces that exists for the Mac.

Additional Applications Included
Included with Toast are an audio recording application, a disc labeling application, and a slideshow creation application.

Documentation for CD Spin Doctor and Motion Pictures HD is available by choosing Help from within each application. For the Discus RE software, help documentation is not supplied with this version.

CD Spin Doctor
CD Spin Doctor 3.1 is the audio recording software included with Toast 7.1. CD Spin Doctor allows you to digitize audio from records, cassettes, or any live source. Once recorded, you can enhance the audio by applying filters. Three types of filters may be applied to audio tracks: Noise Reducer, Sound Enhancer, and a ten band Equalizer. I digitized a tape recording of the Radio City Music Hall on the Air from 1936 featuring my Aunt Henrietta. As would be expected, the tape contained a lot of clicks, crackles, and hiss, and the Noise Reducer improved the sound noticeably. The finished audio can be sent to iTunes or to Toast by clicking on the appropriate button.

CD Spin Doctor has the option to install a desktop recorder Dashboard widget (Mac OS X 10.4 required) so that you can instantly capture and digitize audio from a dashboard.


CD Spin Doctor Interface

Discus RE
Discus RE 3.06 is the disc labeling software included with Toast 7.1 and is a limited version of Discus (
click here to read the Mac Guild review of the full version of Discus). You can use Discus RE to create and print CD/DVD labels and jewel case inserts. None of the light blue styles shown in the Discus RE New Projects interface are available. I was able to quickly create and print a jewel case lid using several JPEG images I had downloaded. A limited library of artwork is included. I found the interface to be reminiscent of software from the early 1990s, but functional.


Discus RE Interface

Motion Pictures HD
Motion Pictures HD 2.1.2 is the slideshow creating software included with Toast 7.1. Motion Pictures HD enables you to create slideshows that can be exported as a QuickTime movie or burned to DVD with Toast or iDVD. You can add motion to each picture in the slideshow, cross dissolve between the pictures, and add a music track to the slideshow. Multiple photos can be displayed at once by creating groups of pictures. Slideshows can be shown as full screen or widescreen. Similar to Toast, you can browse for your iPhoto pictures and your iTunes music using the media browser drawer. I briefly tried Motion Pictures HD and I was impressed by its capabilities.


Motion Pictures HD Interface

Support
The "Toast 7 Titanium - Getting Started Guide" PDF file is included on the CD and covers the detailed operations of the application. I suggest that you review this document before using the utility.

Additional help is available from the Help menu or the question mark on the right side of the main window beneath the tabs. Built-in help uses Apple's Help Center.

Software updates can be obtained from the
Roxio website.

Summary
Toast 7 Titanium is the premier disc burning utility for the Macintosh, and this version builds upon its impressive feature set. It includes new features such as recompressing 9GB dual-layer DVDs to standard 4.7GB DVDs and one-step conversion from DivX downloads to DVD-video. It also supports a lot more audio and video formats, including performing real-time conversions during audio burning. Toast continues to be a solid application, but there are a few areas that could use improvement. The DVD video menu preview is too small, and it can only copy the first session of a multi-session data disk. Still, by far, Toast Titanium is the best and most complete application for disc creation needs. Used in conjunction with the iLife suite, most users' disc creation needs are effectively satisfied. The additional applications included, such as Spin Doctor and Motion Pictures HD, greatly add to its value. The user interface is consistent, intuitive, and easy to use. While Mac OS X and the iLife suite may meet basic disc burning needs, Toast 7 Titanium packs all of your disc burning needs into a single place with additional features not available in iLife, making it a simpler and more effective solution for creating CDs and DVDs. I highly recommend Toast 7 Titanium for all Mac users that would like to take their disc burning to the next level.

Pros

  • Relatively easy to use with an intuitive user interface
  • Integration with iLife files via the Media Browser
  • Supports many disc format types, even legacy formats
  • Converts non-protected audio and video files to different formats
  • Useful additional applications included


Cons

  • The DVD-Video Menu Style thumbnail preview is too small
  • Will only copy the first session of a multi-session data CD
  • For users with little to basic CD burning needs, iLife may be sufficient
  • ToastAnywhere would only see the optical disc recorder on one of the two Macs on my home network


Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice