Toast 10 Titanium marks a milestone in the long history of the Toast CD/DVD burning program. With this newest release, Roxio offers two versions: Toast 10 Titanium, which I review here, and Toast 10 Titanium Pro, which includes additional applications to assist users in audio and video authoring tasks.
The other major change is that Toast 10 requires OS X 10.5 (Leopard) as its minimum operating system. Roxio believes Leopard provides a better platform for delivering cutting edge HD authoring tools. The upshot is that Toast 10 is the last version that will support older Macs, including G4 and G5 PowerPC Macs.
Toast 10 Titanium: Installation
Toast 10 Titanium ships with seven applications, all of which are copied into the Toast 10 Titanium folder that the installation process creates in your Applications folder. Installation itself is a simple drag-and-drop affair that requires no special installation application to run.
Although drag-and-drop makes installation simple, it also allows the user to overlook the Documentation folder on the Toast Titanium disk. Be sure to take a moment to open the Documentation folder and copy the appropriate language user manual to your Mac.
The installation process creates a new folder in Applications called Toast 10 Titanium. By creating a new folder, Roxio allows you to keep earlier versions of Toast on your Mac. As far as I can tell, the earlier versions remain usable.
The seven applications Roxio deposits in the Toast 10 Titanium folder are:
- Toast Titanium
- Get Backup 2 RE
- DiscCatalogMaker RE
- Disc Cover RE
- CD Spin Doctor
Mac2TiVo is the newest member of the Toast Titanium application family. It allows you to copy home videos, non-encrypted DVDs, and other non-encrypted video files you may have on your Mac to your TiVo DVR. Mac2TiVo includes the option to stream the video during the copy process, so you can watch the video on your TV without waiting for the copy process to complete first.
Toast 10 Titanium: First Impressions
When you launch Toast you will see a very familiar interface, one that’s based on the previous generation of Toast. In fact, except for a title bar that says ‘Toast 10 Titanium,’ it can be difficult to spot any differences from Toast 9, but differences there are. The first place I noticed a difference was in the Video tab. Gone from Toast 10 is the HD DVD menu item. This makes sense because the HD DVD format is no longer actively supported in the video industry. Still, if you have HD DVD equipment, you might like to hold onto the option to burn DVDs. If so, you will need to keep Toast 9 around.
Toast 10 Titanium uses a three-pane interface consisting of Category, Project List, and Content panes. Smaller panes may also appear, depending on the function you’re currently performing. The Category pane contains Toast’s five basic functions (Data, Audio, Video, Copy, Convert); each is represented by a small icon.
The Project List, which resides just below the Category pane, lists the type of projects or tasks that can be performed, depending on the category selected. At the bottom of the Project pane is the Options area. This part of the Project pane will change, showing what options are available for various projects you select.
The Content pane, which is the largest, is where you drag-and-drop data (audio or video files) you want Toast to work with. Just below the Content pane is the Recording area, which can display information about your CD/DVD writer and its current status, as well as the basic controls to start the burning process.
Toast 10 Titanium: What’s New
Toast 10 isn’t just improved; it also has an array of new features that I think will appeal to a wide range of Mac users.
- AVCHD Archive. Allows you to back up video directly from your AVCHD camcorder to DVD or Blu-Ray discs. AVCHD Archive will automatically span video across multiple discs if needed, a good thing since many AVCHD camcorders can store more video than will fit, without compression, on a single DVD.
- Portable Audiobooks. Lets you easily convert audiobooks into a single audio file, complete with chapter markers, that you can play back on your iPod or other portable music player.
- DVD-Video Clip Extraction. Pick the clips you like and Toast will extract them and convert them to the format of your choice.
- Mac2TiVo To Go. If you have TiVo, you can use Mac2TiVo To Go to stream videos resident on your Mac to your TiVo.
- Compilation DVD/Blu-ray. Combines multiple videos into a single DVD or Blu-ray disc.
- Music Builder. Uses CD Spin Doctor to capture streaming audio from various sources. Once captured, Toast will decipher the music, create individual tracks, and tag them with artist and title information.
- New DVD Menus. Twenty new DVD/Blu-ray menus are available, in both fullscreen and widescreen formats.
- Web Video. Saves and converts web-based videos to formats you can use directly on your Mac or burn to a DVD.
Toast 10 Titanium: Hello Blu-ray, Goodbye HD DVD
The good news is that Toast 10 Titanium can burn Blu-ray discs; the bad news is that it can no longer burn HD DVD discs. This isn’t surprising, though, since HD DVD is a nearly defunct standard that is no longer being developed. If you need HD DVD capability, be sure to keep Toast 9 within easy reach.
Toast 10 Titanium supports a plug-in that lets you author and burn Blu-ray discs. The High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in is included in Toast 10 Titanium Pro, but it’s an add-on for Toast 10 Titanium. If you need the plug-in, and you’re willing to pay the additional fee, it’s available for downloading from the Roxio web site.
Beyond the ability to burn a Blu-ray disc, the plug-in provides some additional features. One feature alone may be worth the cost of the plug-in: the ability to burn HD content to a standard DVD.
DVDs with HD content that you create with the Blu-ray plug-in will play in standard Blu-ray players or on your Mac, but they won’t play correctly in standard DVD players.
Toast started life as the premier method for burning a CD on a Mac. Toast 10 Titanium retains its elite status as the method of choice for burning CDs and DVDs on a Mac. Toast 10 offers revolutionary changes, but it has also cleaned up its act, with an improved user interface that provides faster access to the four most commonly used burning formats.
- Data. Toast can burn data in Mac Only, Mac & PC, UDF (DVD-ROM) ISO 9660, and Photo Disc formats. Aside from the Mac Only format, all of the options are cross-platform, making Toast a great choice for burning discs to share with friends who use that other operating system.
- Audio. Likewise, all of the audio formats (Audio CD, Music DVD, MP3, Enhanced Audio CD) can be used on just about any device that adheres to CD or DVD player standards.
- Video. Video formats that Toast 10 supports include DVD-Video, Blu-ray Video (with optional plug-in), Video_TS Folder, Video_TS Compilation, BDMV Folder, and AVCHD Archive. Video_TS Compilation allows you to combine multiple Video_TS folders into a single video DVD.
- Copy. Three types of media copying options are available. The Disc Copy option will copy any non-encrypted CD/DVD Blu-ray disc to a blank disc. You can also use Disc Copy to create an image file that will function the same as if you inserted the original disc into your Mac.
The Data, Video, and Copy options also allow you to compress data to fit the media, including squeezing a double-sided DVD onto a single-sided DVD blank.
Toast 10 Titanium: Convert
Toast 10 builds on the Convert functions introduced in Toast 9. Toast 10 performs a wide range of video and audio conversions to a large selection of file types and formats.
As you might expect, Toast can convert video for use on Apple TV, iPhones, video iPods, and the iPod Touch. But less predictably, it also has presets for Sony’s PSP and PlayStation 3, and Microsoft’s Xbox 360. If you want to convert a movie for viewing on your smartphone, Toast can convert it to the native formats used by BlackBerry, Palm, Treo, and generic 3G phones. It can also convert video for streaming.
While having preset conversion formats is nice, Toast can also convert to specific file types, including DV (the format used in iMovie and Final Cut), HDV, H.264 Player, MPEG-4, and QuickTime Movie. Gone is the option to convert to DivX, which was available in Toast 9.
Toast 10 audio conversions are not as extensive as those offered for video. Still the essentials are covered, with AAIF, WAV, AAC, Apple Lossless, FLAC, and Ogg Vorbis. Also available is the ability to convert multiple audiobook CDs into a single audiobook file with chapter markers intact. Audiobook conversion is a great way to transfer your audiobooks to a portable player.
The Convert feature can also perform batch conversions. You can add multiple files to the Content pane, and Toast will obligingly convert each one for you.
Toast 10 Titanium: Additional New Features
Toast 10 Titanium includes many other new features. In fact, there are too many new features to address in this review, so we will just look at some of my favorites.
Hidden in the Toast 10 Titanium Media Browser is a special category called Web Video. Web Video allows you to save videos from various web sources to your Mac for later viewing. You can also use any of your saved Web Videos as source material for any of Toast 10 Titanium’s capabilities, such as converting video for viewing on an iPhone or adding to a DVD.
CD Spin Doctor
Previous versions of CD Spin Doctor could only open AIFF and WAV audio files. Now CD Spin Doctor can open and save files in MP3, AAC , and Apple Lossless formats.
Earlier versions of Toast allowed you to created a compilation DVD by dragging multiple Video_TS folders to the DVD project. Each movie you added would have its own menu button in the DVD title section, to allow you to access each video in your compilation. Toast 10 builds on this by adding new menu styles, as well as the ability to add multiple movies to a DVD without adding multiple buttons to the title page. You can now watch your compilation in succession, without returning to the title page each time.
Streamer allows you to stream EyeTV, TiVo, or other video sources on your Mac over the Internet for viewing on your iPhone or iPod touch.
Toast 10 Titanium: Summary
Toast 10 Titanium brings a wide selection of data, audio, and video tools to both amateur and professional Mac enthusiasts. Its ability to provide multiple tools does not interfere with its core function: to burn information onto recordable media.
The only real disappointment for me is the same as it was with Toast 9: the Blu-ray plug-in remains an added-cost option.
I had some intermittent problems with the Web Video feature, although it may have been a problem with my Internet connection at the time of testing. Occasionally the web video I captured had some minor stuttering that wasn’t present in the original. Time will tell whether the feature or the Internet connection is the culprit, but the latter is more likely.
Toast 10 Titanium is my go-to application for audio and video authoring needs. Despite its many capabilities, it’s pretty darn easy to use.