updated 06:30 pm EDT, Mon May 5, 2008
Toast Titanium 9
Every Mac with a Superdrive can burn your iTunes music files to a CD, your iMovie video files to a DVD, and your digital photographs (or any files and folders) to both a CD/DVD. However, if you want to do more than ordinary CD/DVD burning, you may want to look at Roxio's latest version of Toast Titanium 9, a multi-purpose optical media authoring application that can burn CDs/DVDs and do a whole lot more.
At the simplest level, Toast makes it easy to burn all types of discs based on the type of data you want to save such as Data, Audio, or Video. After you choose a category, the next step is to choose the type of disc you want to create. For example, creating a Data disc gives you a choice of burning a disc exclusively designed for other Macs, for both PCs and Macs, as an ISO 9660 format disc (for maximum compatibility with older computers), or as a Photo Disc specifically for storing digital photographs and displaying them as a slideshow.
Creating an Audio disc gives you the options of burning an audio CD that can play in any CD player, an MP3 audio disc, a music DVD that contains navigation menus for playing on DVD players, and an enhanced audio CD for storing both audio and data files on the same disc.
The program provides a similar array of options for burning video DVDs as an ordinary video DVD, a Blu-ray disc, an HD DVD, or a DivX disc. (You'll need a special Blu-ray or HD DVD drive to burn Blu-ray discs or HD DVDs.) If you have video files stored in a folder, you can even combine multiple video files to a single DVD.
To make choosing files easy, Toast integrates with iLife so you can access any files stored in iTunes, iPhoto, or iMovie. Just drag the files you want to burn, drop them in the program window, and start the burning process.
Since you'll likely have existing discs that you want to use, the program offers a Copy and Convert feature. You can copy and burn an exact duplicate of a disc, burn a disc as an image file (which you can later burn to a disc or transfer over the Internet), or merge multiple disc image files to create a disc readable by both PCs and Macs.
Toast's Convert options are just as numerous: convert a DVD into different video file formats such as to DivX format, or convert audio files into a specific file format such as Ogg Vorbis. Working with multiple file formats may normally be tedious, but with Toast, the file conversion process is no more difficult than dragging and dropping the files to convert and choosing the file format to store them in.
If burning discs was all the program could do, it would still be a handy tool for anyone who needs more control over the disc burning process. However, the application also offers a host of additional features. Since many people burn audio discs to store their favorite music, Toast offers a recording feature.
Connect any device to your Mac and record the sound. This lets you record from a stereo, or better yet, record streaming audio off the Internet (just beware of copyright restrictions.) After capturing audio from another source, burn those audio files to a disc.
If you find the DVD Player or QuickTime Player that comes with every Mac too simple or limited, use the Toast Video Player so you can view all different types of video file formats.
After you burn a disc, you could use a marker pen and scribble a title on the disc surface. As a better alternative, Toast includes a CD label designer that comes with dozens of templates that you can choose and customize to create labels for your discs and inserts to slide inside a jewel case.
Perhaps one of the more interesting features is audio fingerprinting. If somebody has given you an audio file with the generic name of Track_02, audio fingerprinting accesses the Internet to identify the song title. Instead of forcing you to type this information in, Toast can label your audio files automatically.
Crammed with additional features such as letting you burn video from your TiVo recorder, fit-to-disc feature that compresses files to fit within the space limitations of a CD/DVD, and wireless video streaming to display video on nearby PCs or Macs (or even iPhones and iPod Touches), this program offers more than basic disc burning and plenty of useful features to make it easy to create all types of discs easily. You may never need all the features available, but whatever you need to burn your discs, you can be pretty sure you can find it in Toast.
For anyone who only burns discs occasionally, you don't necessarily need Toast, but for $99.99, you may wish that you had it anyway. For heavy disc burning, Toast is a simple and powerful program that you won't want to be without.