Burn, copy, convert with Roxio Toast Titanium (July 27th, 2009)
Product Manufacturer: Roxio, a div. of Sonic Solutions
Price: $99.99 US
- Burns many, many disk formats. Can convert audio & video to/from many different formats. Can read video from a Tivo or a web browser. Makes it easy to find content to burn and convert.
- Minor interface glitches. Media Browser is slow, preview functionality didn’t work for me. Poor technical support. Help brings up PDF file.
Toast 10 Titanium, Roxio’s latest release of their CD/DVD burning software, can burn many different formats of CDs and DVDs. If you have the necessary hardware, the Pro version ($149.99) burns Blu-ray discs as well.
The burning of CDs and DVDs has been Toast's major selling point for many years, and the software does it well. Toast burns data discs as Macintosh-only or ones that you can read on both Macs and PCs. It also burns DVD-ROM format, ISO-9660, and Photo Discs. In addition to plain old CDs, it burns Music DVDs, Enhanced Audio CDs, and MP3 CDs that play in your car, if your car head unit supports that format. Toast also supports burning video DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and can archive onto DVDs, the AVCHD video format that many video cameras use to record video, without the necessity of converting.
If you have a Tivo, Toast also burns DVDs of recorded programs from your Tivo. To do this, you need a Tivo with a network connection. For many people, this is makes Toast worth the $99 price tag, because you can record shows on your Tivo, and convert them to play on your iPhone or video iPod; all inside of Toast.
Toast Media BrowserToast 10 Titanium comes with the Toast Media Browser that helps your find your digital files, including pictures, movies, and music. It reads your iPhoto library, Aperture vault, or your iMovie projects and other sources. It displays thumbnails of these items and shows these items using a module that looks similar to QuickLook. I was not able to get Toast to display any of my images; a window pops up and shows "Loading..." for several minutes. As a point of comparison, the Finder displays the same images with QuickLook in under a second. Other MacNN reviewers did not experience this image viewing problem though. You cannot rename photos in the Media Browser because it would mess up iPhoto.
The Toast Media Browser can show movies that you are watching over the Web, and then convert them into other formats. I tried this with a YouTube video and converted it into a QuickTime movie. It worked with both Safari and Camino in my tests. You can even preview the file right in the Media Brower. Unfortunately, it did not work with Hulu, or I would have an iPod full of TV shows. Toast comes with presets to convert QT and video for the iPhone, the AppleTV, the Sony PlayStation, and several other devices, plus you can create custom settings. My only complaint is that Toast gives the file a funky numbered name and you have no option to give the file a real name, except in the Finder after the conversion completes.
Interface IssuesI noticed a few minor interface glitches when using Toast 10. I have two monitors on my system, with the main monitor with the menu bar on the right. When a disc finishes burning, a sheet pops up on top of the window, asking if you want to eject or mount the newly created disc. If I put the Toast window on the secondary monitor, it moves onto the main monitor to display the sheet, and then moves back when you dismiss the sheet. The window then displays another sheet showing how to label the disc, but that sheet doesn't cause the window to move. Interestingly enough, even if a burn fails for some reason, the sheet directing you to label the disk still appears, as if the burn was successful. In some cases, when asked if you want to eject or mount the burned disc, the disc ejects, no matter which option you choose. Also, when converting a movie, the progress bar shows percentage done, but I don't really care if a conversion is 34% done. I want to know in how many minutes it will be finished, like Toast shows in the burn window.
Other FeaturesThere are lots more features in Toast 10 that are worthy of their own review. Features I tried that worked well included: Breaking up audiobooks into tracks for easier listening on an iPod, easy creation of menus and backgrounds for DVDs, DVD clip extraction, sending movies to your Tivo, and capture from streaming audio, such as Internet radio and web to video conversion. The DVD clip extraction feature is easily worth half the cost, as previously you needed special software to extract clips.
I also appreciated the feature added in Toast 9: If you drag a folder full of files into the burn window, then add or subtract any of the files, it automatically updates. In previous versions, you had to remove the folder from the burn list and drag it in again; this is a useful update.
Included ApplicationsCD Spin Doctor, Get Backup 2, Mac2TiVo, Streamer, and Disc Cover round out the bundled applications in Toast 10. The handy Streamer allows you to send TV recordings, such as EyeTV and TiVoToGo, to your iPhone or iPod touch over Wi-Fi or 3G.
Toast 10 Titanium Pro adds a number of great programs into the Toast bundle that are more than worth the additional cost (noted in green in the screen shot above). Programs include special versions of Sound Soap, SonicFire, FotoMagico, LightZone, plus the Blu-ray burning plug-in mentioned previously.
Minor Problems and Tech SupportDuring the review period, I had a problem burning a particular data set onto a TDK DVD+R disk. After I created a couple of bad discs that failed to verify, I contacted Roxio technical support. Even though my initial bug report included the machine type, OS version, Toast version, and the type of drive and type of media that I used, the responses from tech support did not address my problem. They replied with unhelpful advice such as, “Update to the latest version of the OS”, “Update your copy of Toast” (twice), “Let Toast create a disk image, then burn the disk image”, and other suggestions that basically ignored most of the information that I had provided. They even requested I “Update the firmware in your drive” – even though they could not tell me what is the correct version of the firmware for my drive. Eventually, Roxio tech support gave up and offered to refund the purchase price of the software.
I eventually figured out what was causing the bad burns. I was burning a collection of files that fit fine on a DVD-R disk, but DVD+R discs hold about 60 MB less data than a DVD-R, and this was more data than would fit on the DVD+R. The one bit of useful information I did get out of Roxio support was that “As far as Toast is concerned, a DVD-R and DVD+R hold the same amount of data.” Basically, Roxio support gave me the wrong information and in my opinion, that is a problem. While I give the program 4-stars for performance, their technical support leaves much to be desired and rates only 3-stars.
While Roxio Toast Titanium 9 works in Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger), this version of Toast requires Mac OS X 10.5. It still runs on a PowerPC G4 and up or an Intel Mac, but the graphical enhancements make it well worth the upgrade.