Review: Toast 8 Titanium

Toast burns up the discs again (March 30th, 2007)

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Product Manufacturer: Roxio, A Div. of Sonic Solutions

Price: $99.99 US

The Good

  • Easy to use. Good iLife Integration and improved Bundled Software. Fit to DVD compression works with TiVo. Blu-Ray and Lightscribe Support.

The Bad

  • Icon view burned discs still come out jumbled, instead of arranged or snapped to a grid. Motion Pictures HD not Universal Binary.

It is rare when a piece of software works so well that its name becomes synonymous with what it does. For example, we have all heard of pictures that look like they were "Photoshopped." Although Toast is very much improved since Roxio became its parent company, it seems that people are slow in warming up to the idea of Toasting CDs. Yet, Toast now gives you so many great features, it is a well-deserved way to refer to your burns.

Your Digital Lifestyle

Roxio Toast 8 does much more than just burn CDs now though. Years ago Steve Jobs spoke about the Macintosh Digital Hub and the Digital Lifestyle, where photos, music, video, and more recently television would use the Mac as a central point to bring it all together. Roxio is following Apple's lead by offering software that enhances and extends the functionality of the Mac OS and iLife applications. Toast 8 offers a range of new innovative features that enable users to see, hear, copy, and enjoy their entire digital lives on a disc and on the go.

Improved Audio CD support

Toast has always been the best disc authoring application on the Mac, but Toast 8 brings a number of unique new features and enhancements that help redefine the standard for disc burning. While Apple has done a pretty good job with the release of iTunes 7, Toast 8 takes it up a notch. It complements the features of iTunes and enables users to apply professional-quality tools to create superior sounding audio CD mixes and music DVDs. Toast 8 adds DJ-style cross-fades and volume normalization tools that allow you to make great sounding compilations or Mix CDs to share with friends. If you have more professional needs, Toast 8 also includes sound enhancing plug-ins, track-trimming capabilities, and other features previously found in Roxio's now-defunct Jam software. Now, you can literally master your CD for professional reproduction and duplication and even embed the UPC information in the disc.

Roxio has redesigned the look of Toast 8 quite a bit, and it has a Leopard-like quality to the interface. It still offers the same drag and drop interface that makes it very easy to use, but gone is the Formats and Media drawer and OS 9-like interface. Audio CD burning seems quicker and the software handles the conversion, such as from MP3 to AIFF, behind the scenes. The files still go to a Roxio Converted Items folder, but in the Preferences are various options to delete or keep the Converted Items for burning future CDs. I also like the new progress window where it shows the songs processed and the time to completion.

Roxio Burning Progress Bar


Toast Progress Bar, courtesy of Roxio


If you do not own an iPod yet, Toast 8 authors MP3 CDs well, and provides multiple hours of music on a CD or even a DVD disc with the same drag and drop ease. In addition to great sounding audio MP3 CDs, you can create a 50-hour music DVD complete with on-screen menus, shuffle play, and even Dolby Digital sound.

Disc Recovery

A feature I didn't have discs to test is the Disc Recovery option in the Disc Copy section. Toast attempts to recover files with read-errors on damaged and scratched CDs. For someone, like my Editor, who has a multitude of questionable discs from an old SCSI-Yamaha burner, this feature may prove to be a file lifesaver. (The Editor notes that this feature did work on the one disc she tested.) The Copy option also sports a new disc image merge feature.

DVD Support

If DVD watching is your thing, Toast 8 still offers DVD compression that can backup an entire 9GB DVD to a standard 4.7GB DVD disc and "Fit-to-DVDtm compression" that uses all available disc space to maximize video quality. This feature works a bit faster than in Toast 7. Toast 8 still respects the commercial DVD Anti-Copy Protection and will not import them directly. Toast 8 gives you more control over the extracted data including Director's Cut custom compilations, so you can select specific video, audio and languages for your DVD, and also convert DVD content and video files for your iPod, PSP, DivX, or other portable video players. Also included are new and easier to use DVD themes, to give to your DVDs a studio quality look that rivals iDVD, along with the bundled Motion Pictures HD software that makes creating your DVDs much easier than in the past.

Blu-ray Support

Toast 8 takes you into the future with Blu-ray Disc burning support, if you happen to have one of the $600+ burners installed on your Mac. With Blu-ray, you can store as many as 12,500 music tracks, 50,000 photos, or up to four hours of high-definition video on a single 50 GB Blu-ray Disc. Toast's Dynamic Writing feature allows consumers to use a Blu-ray Disc recorder like a giant hard drive by dragging and dropping content directly onto the disc icon on the desktop to add or remove files. Blu-ray burning is also supported by Toast's network sharing utility, ToastAnywhere. An untested option installs a system extension that allows you to read Blu-ray discs in the Finder on G4 and later Macs using OS X 10.4.8 and up.

Conclusion

Overall, Toast is easier to use, seems slightly faster and more interactive along with improvements in the bundled software that make it a worthwhile upgrade. TiVo owners may want to take a serious look at Toast 8 for the ease of use of TiVo Transfer. Although Roxio doesn't promote it on the website, Toast 8 and bundled software, except Motion Pictures HD, are Universal Binary and run natively on Intel Macs. My second article covers the bundled-software features.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Art Payne


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