Review: Toast 7 Titanium

Burn more than you ever thought possible. (September 15th, 2005)

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Product Manufacturer: Roxio, Div. of Sonic Solutions

Price: MSRP $99.95 ($20 rebate available)

The Good

  • Easy to install and use. More features than you can imagine. Good PDF Getting Started Guide.

The Bad

  • Features and options are so numerous that some are hard to find. Doesn\'t support multiple burners at once, but do you really need that?

Toast is the premiere utility for burning CDs and DVDs and Toast 7 Titanium sports a jazzy new interface and a number of welcome enhancements. As a devoted Toast user since its inception in 1997, I use it regularly to create file backups, audio CDs, plus when I create DVD projects from slide shows and movies. Due to space considerations, this review covers only the main Toast application.

Easy to Install

Toast installation is easy, but it uses up a whopping 300 MB of disk space and more is needed to set up disc images for burning. The Toast Setup Assistant prompts you to install three programs along with the main application. Toast It and Mount It are menu items that let you burn and mount disc images in the Finder, while Deja Vu is a backup scheduling System Preference, and the third is DivX Playback that lets you watch DivX videos with QuickTime. In addition, Toast includes CD Spin Doctor for audio recording, Motion Pictures HD for slide shows, and Discus RE to create CD art.

New Features

The interface is the first obvious difference in Toast 7. The tabs above the main data transfer window, remain Data, Audio, Video, and Copy, but sport updated icons. Each burning option no longer offers Basic and Advanced menu options in the side drawer, but a checkbox in the Preferences lets you choose to show legacy Advanced options under the Data Formats menu in the drawer. In their place are Formats and Media buttons that offer more burning choices. The expanded Options associated with each button include compressed, PC, UNIX, HFS Standard, and encrypted discs.

Toast 6
Toast 6
Toast 7
Toast 7

The Media button negates the need to launch iPhoto, iTunes, or other applications to access files stored on your hard drive. You can drag and drop files right from the Media button browser directly into the content area. This feature saves considerable time when composing an audio or photo CD or DVD.

The Burn button located in the bottom left shows your burner specs, a progress bar, and a DVD/CD toggle button. The recording options button still exists, but the Disk Eject button is new. The quarter circle space indicator estimates the space needed on the disc, a feature that didn't seem to function quite properly in Toast 6. Now you can hold the mouse over the indicator and see exactly how much disk space you need. The green bar segments to show you how many discs are needed for the burn. When the bar turns red, you've added too many files for the particular burn you've chosen.

Indicator picture
Screen shot courtesy of Roxio

DVD-Video Burning

A new DVD-Video burning feature is the Fit-to-DVD video compression function. When a DVD larger than the media is inserted, this option turns on auto-compression. The Copy Options also let you choose to burn the whole video, or just the main movie, functions formerly available only in DVD compression applications. One inconvenience I tripped over when I selected the wrong movie to burn, was that I could not click the folder and delete it from the burn list, although I could replace the folder with the correct one by dragging it into the window. The spanning feature allows you to burn large drives full of files onto multiple DVDs or CDs. You don't have to worry about guesstimating the number of files that will fit on your media; definitely a handy feature.

My favorite new feature is the Info button on the bottom of the Content Area window. You can choose icon, list or column view as the default to show your mounted CD files. You can also choose a color or a picture for the background. Finally, an easy way to really customize your burns and I get my icons back!

More Than You Need?

Roxio boasts that "Toast 7 offers the most extensive burning features on the Mac OS," and as far as I've researched they're right. Audio disks are automatically burned with Dolby Digital sound, plus you can choose a higher quality for DVDs than most standard audio CDs. The options and choices for audio CDs seem endless, and include customized menu styles and album art.

Although I didn't need to use the Getting Started Guide to dig into Toast, it came in handy to locate some of the new features. The manual is chock full of diagrams, screen shots, and explanatory text, so even the newest Macintosh owner can use the more advanced features. Previously I thought Toast was a bit expensive, but the enhancements in Toast 7 are worth the respectable price tag.

The Toast 7.0.1 update, released 9/13, resolves some issues with CD Spin Doctor 3.0 and Motion Pictures HD 2.0, plus fixes an issue with using the Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) on CDs. FLAC is similar to the Apple Lossless Encoder, introduced as a feature in iTunes 4.5. Installation of the update is a simple replacement of the applications.

by Ilene Hoffman


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