Toast 5 Titanium

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Toast 5 Titanium

Toast has burned its mark with CD creation on the Mac, but can it pop up with anything new?

Roxio may not be a name most readers are familiar with, but Toast is almost a household name to many Mac users. That's because, until earlier this year, Roxio was just a twinkle in the eyes of parent company Adaptec - a firm known as the original developer of Toast, the Mac CD burning application.

Toast controls a CD-writer during the creation process and offers the user a vast selection of formats to create CDs in. By making a few selections, it is possible to create data CDs for backing up precious documents, or sharing files, and to make audio CDs for playing in stereos, or even Video CDs for watching edited video projects. CD burners by themselves are worthless without CD burning programs such as, in the Mac instance, Toast 5, or rivals CharisMac or NeroMax. Titanium, but not as we know it The Toast 5 Titanium installation CD is stuffed with goodies. Roxio has certainly made sure that this purchase seems like a good buy. Included are all manner of useful utilities for converting, encoding, cataloguing, printing and, of course, burning.

There is also a cable included for connecting stereo system RCA audio outputs to the Mac mic port for digitising that ageing LP collection. The cable can also be used for connecting any audio source with left and right RCA output connectors to a Mac for recording sound directly to the hard drive.

What Roxio doesn't supply is a CD-writer, although CD-writers often come with Toast in-pack. Suggested system requirements are a Mac running OS 8.6 or newer with at least 12MByte of available RAM and 100MByte of free disk space. QuickTime 4 or later is needed for the MPEG-1 encoding for creating VideoCDs. Despite a commitment by Roxio for the program to operate with Mac 0S X, Toast 5 does not yet support the latest 10.0.0.4 build of the new Apple operating system. Roxio told us that an updater for this will be available when, as they put it, a complete version of Mac 0S X is available.

A single procedure installs all the included software neatly in a folder on the hard drive and places three extensions - Toast CD Reader, Toast FireWire Support and Toast USB Support - in the System Folder. An updater to Toast 5.0.1 was available from the Roxio support web site. At 3.7MByte, the download took about 20 minutes on a 56K modem and added such notable enhancements as DVD-writer support, which, unfortunately, we weren't able to test. Mac users have posted stories of successful DVD creation using the Apple SuperDrive and retail version Pioneer DVD-A03 on Computer Video's message board.

Toast also includes several MP3 music tracks from various independent artists to kick start that MP3 music collection. The supplied Qdesign MVP application is a music player that also encodes into Qdesign, MP2 and MP3 formats, but only for 30 days. An upgrade is needed to continue to encode MP2 and MP3 files after that. Toast Audio Extractor copies music tracks from audio CDs to the hard drive and saves them in a variety of sound formats, but not MP3. File export formats are AIFF, Sound Designer II, Sound Edit 16, QT movie, WAV, System 7 sound, and JAM image file. Different sample rates can be specified as well as stereo or mono. CD Spin doctor is the application designed to aid in the formidable task of recording old LP collections to CD.

Better than sliced bread

The revised Aqua-look interface of Toast 5 is a major cosmetic and functional improvement over the previous version, but menu items are much the same as Toast 4 Deluxe - except for the inclusion of a few new features.

New features in Titanium are DVD, MP3 CD and direct-from-iMovie VideoCD creation. Also new is background burning, a feature that allows work to continue in another application while a CD is written. The updater to 5.0.1 was found easily by using the internet menu item and selecting Download Updates. The update adds iTunes and Disc Burner compatibility, so it is possible for all three apps to burn CDs to previously unsupported drives. All captured audio files are converted to an audio CD format before burning. Apple Disc Burner, on the other hand, created CDs with both burners.

Another notable improvement enables computers with only a CD-writer to copy audio CDs. If there is sufficient hard drive space, the music tracks are by temporarily stored on the hard drive before burning the new material to a blank disc.

Toast 5.0.1 is also said to add support for the Apple SuperDrive, otherwise known as the Pioneer A03 DVD-writer, for burning DVD-R and DVD-RW discs. Toast doesn't encode MPEG-2 files for DVD playback however, so a DVD authoring program such as Apple iDVD or DVD Studio Pro is still required. Ordinary storage of data on DVD media is possible, though, giving 4.7GByte of space on a single disc. This offers a great way to back up video projects.

Making copies of existing CDs is a very simple process. Place the source disc in the CD-ROM and the blank disc in the burner, and click record. This is a great way to back up music CDs or application software. Roxio does state, however, that certain copyright protected CDs and DVDs cannot be copied in this way.

The iMovie connection

Export from iMovie to Toast is a new feature of version 5. By choosing QuickTime export and selecting the Toast Video CD (PAL) preset as the option, the iMovie project is converted into an MPEG-1 VideoCD compatible movie file. The export module then seamlessly launches Toast 5 Titanium, already set up for burning the VCD. All the user need do is click the red Record button and the VCD is burned to a blank CD-R. If no blank CD-R is found, then an error message pops up, requesting a recordable disc.

To make more than one copy of the iMovie VCD, just eject the disc and insert another blank and create a VCD by clicking the red button again. The only requirement of iMovie is for version 2.0.1 or later. Although Roxio claims that this MPEG-1 export is available from any QuickTime compatible application, such as Final Cut Pro, Premiere 6 and QuickTime Player, only Player gave the option to export to Toast VideoCD.

Export Business

Toast has always provided a good selection of supported formats for storing data. Version 5 now supports the Macintosh HFS plus (Mac 0S Extended) file system, as well as the original standard HFS Mac file system. Extended makes better use of available disc space, so more data can be stored on disc. The ISO9660 data format is also supported, and can be combined with a Mac format partition to create a hybrid CD. Toast effectively divides the available space of the blank CD-R between both formats, but without affecting compatibility with the target systems.

Another type of hybrid CD is the Mixed Mode format which combines audio and data on one CD. A familiar example of this is the Enhanced CD that the music industry uses to distribute albums that include multimedia content. Enhanced mixed mode CDs play audio in stereo CD players just like any album, but also give access to interactive multimedia presentations when inserted into a computer CD-ROM drive.

Conclusion

Roxio continues building on the past success of Adaptec Toast. Version 5 offers some great new features and offers Mac users a way to use a retrofitted DVD-writer. Currently, the Pioneer DVD-writer only ships with Windows software, so Toast 5 will be a much needed purchase. Aside from DVD writing, almost every conceivable CD format can be created for both data and music purposes. iMovie users will love the VideoCD creation shortcut, and other users will also benefit, although in a more roundabout way, by using QuickTime Player to export MPEG-1 files to Toast 5.

For the full review, see the December 2001 issue of Computer Video.






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