updated 07:25 am EDT, Thu July 27, 2006
Roxio on Blu-ray, Toast 7
Following Roxio's announcement of Toast 7 with Blu-ray Disc support, MacNN spoke with Adam Fingerman, Director of Product Management at Roxio, a division of Sonic Solutions, about its popular Toast application, and burning to high-density discs. There are two competing standards for the new generation of digital optical media that can hold large amounts of data: HD-DVD and Blu-ray are different implementations of similar technology that uses a 405nm wavelength blue laser, as compared to DVDs that use a 650nm wavelength red laser and CDs that use an infrared 780nm laser. The optics are different and incompatible though. A Blu-ray disc holds more data (25 GB-single layer and 50 GB-dual layer) than HD-DVD (15 GB-single layer and 30 GB-dual layer). Blu-ray media is also more expensive to produce. [corrected]
Why did Sonic Solutions choose Blu-ray for their first release of an HD-compatible Toast?
"We will support both standards. Sonic is format neutral, we support all formats. At the consumer level, the Blu-ray format is further along, so that's what we went with first." Apple has thrown its support behind Blu-ray, and Roxio always updates the Mac platform first. (correction)
What types of files can be stored on Blu-ray discs?
Fingerman said that these discs can store any type of file. "They can hold up to 50,000 photos, 12,500 music tracks, or four hours of raw, uncompressed high-density video files. In addition, they can hold and playback video, but you need a Blu-ray capable player. Presently, the PlayStation 3 (Sony) supports Blu-ray video playback. Apple supports the Blu-ray technology though, so MacNN assumes that it is only a matter of time before we see built-in support for Blu-ray on new Macintosh computers. (Corrected by ilene)
The bad news is that all of the Macintosh computers available today cannot read or write to Blu-ray discs. So, if you want to take advantage of storing huge amounts of data, you need to purchase a new compatible device. Adam said that Sony, Samsung, and a few other companies have burners available, but expect more companies to join the market. Today, you have to pay about $750 for an HD compatible burner. The good news is, similar to other technologies, over time that price will drop. You may remember that the first consumer CD burners were well over $1000. Obviously, how fast the price drops depends on how quickly consumers embrace the new technology-enabled burners.
If you wait just a few short months, you can take advantage of the Toast/burner bundle. Adam stated that, although they can't divulge exactly which companies will bundle Roxio Toast 7 with Blu-ray Disc support, he assured us that at least half a dozen companies have looked at their software and some deals have already been locked in.
Why didn't Sonic update the version number of Roxio Toast with Blu-Ray Support?
"The only change is Blu-ray support, other than that, it's the same Toast support. We have other things planned for Toast 8." (The plans are not yet for public consumption.) Basically, they didn't want to change the version number, because that would spur consumer requests for the new version, but presently this new release is for bundling with HD burners only.
"The Blu-ray support in Toast is only useful if you have a Blu-ray drive. We have no plans to release separately at this time because without a drive there's no features that offer anything over the Universal Binary update that was released a couple of weeks ago." If there is a great consumer demand, he said that they would consider releasing a consumer product.
Sonic also added Toast Dynamic Writing functions embedded in Toast 7 with Blu-ray Disc support.
When you drag files to the disc, is it similar to the way Apple's Burn works, for example, are aliases created or are the actual files moved?
"Toast Dynamic writing is unlike the way Apple's burning works. When you burn with the [Mac] OS, it creates a temporary disk image, and it creates pointers to the files." Fingerman said that Blu-ray rewritable media actually works like a hard disk.
"In Toast Dynamic Writing, you can actually drag files on and off the disk icon; it updates the disk in real-time. Toast doesn't even need to be running. It treats the disk like a removable hard drive or a flash drive. It's burning the way burning is meant to be. ... There's no temporary cache. You format it for Toast Dynamic Writing, it mounts, and you drag and drop files on it. It is actually burning as you drop the files. For rewritable media, you don't have to erase it to add anymore to it, you can pull files off and drop them in trash."
Blu-ray supports burn once, rewritable, and double layer media. Burn once is like burning any other Toast disk, that is, just like a burn to CD or DVD. When asked about the required hard drive space, the response was simply, "Toast needs a certain amount of free space for DVD compression, and [they currently] recommend 15GB. When doing a data burn, 100MB is plenty of free disk space, because Toast doesn't need the disk space." Blu-ray burning does not change the requirement.
Fingerman ended the interview by simply stating: "The important thing to note, without Toast you can't read or write to these discs with these recorders on the Mac."
Interview Conducted by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor