Roxio Toast 11 Titanium: Burn once, burn everywhere
When it comes to disc burning tools, you could be forgiven for believing that there is little more to think about than simply copying files from your hard drive to a CD, DVD or Blu-Ray disc. While this may be the case when creating the most basic of backups, Roxio Toast goes to show that there is so much more that can be achieved with the humble recordable disc. The program is a suite of tools all related to the task of burning data onto recordable discs, and includes a number of individual components that can be used to create audio discs, video discs, slideshows, data backups and much more.
With basic disc burning and the option of working with image files built directly into Mac OS X, any third party disc burning tool has to have plenty to offer in order to justify the cost. From the offset, Roxio Toast does not disappoint; a huge set of features means that the application has great scope, and a neatly redesigned interface ensures that any project you are working on can be carried out entirely intuitively, and clearer labelling means that there is little chance of confusion when looking at various buttons and screen elements. The interface overhaul is not a major change from previous versions of the suite, but the minor changes that have been made make all the difference to usability.
Toast can be used to create your own video disc using pre-recorded footage, or by transferring recordings from a TiVo device. Video can be quickly converted into a number of formats so they can be burned to CD or DVD, or optimized for viewing on a device such as the iPhone or iPad. When converting video, if you are using a system with an nVidia graphics card, you can take advantage of VideoBoost to help speed up the process of converting with the H.264 codec. As well as being able to burn videos to disc, Toast can also be uploaded to the likes of YouTube and Facebook in a few mouse clicks.
Subtle Changes Matter
The main Toast application has altered little from previous versions, but there are still a number of interesting changes and additions. With more and more computers fitted with two or more optical drives, it's good to see that the option of burning to multiple discs simultaneously has been included. It might not be a feature that is used every day by most people, but when it comes to creating multiple copies of the same disc, this can save a great deal of time.
There are a number of options when it comes to capturing footage to use as the basis for a project. In addition to being able to transfer footage from a TiVo set-top box, web-based audio and video footage can also be captured. This is great if you want to create a video disc using files from YouTube or want to create an audio disc of an online radio broadcast. Toast also allows for easy conversion of video. Using Fit-to-DVD, large video files can be re-encoded so they fit on a disc of a given size, and support subtitles means that videos encoded for viewing on iOS or other devices can be created with the subtitles left intact.
Toast's Get Backup 2 RE, as the name might suggest, is for backing up of data, and the application can be used in a number of ways. Firstly, there is the option of backing up data and burning it to disc. As well as selecting individual files and folders, there are a number of pre-defined buttons that make it easy to opt to back up your iPhoto data, your Mail account, iTunes information, your documents and your address book. All of these could easily be achieved manually, but these help to simplify the process as much as possible. For complete system backups, there is also the option of create hard drive clones, and the Synchronize option makes it possible to ensure that the contents of two folders are exactly the same. The number of backup options available means that no matter how you use your computer, or how you want to safeguard your data, there is something here for you.
Some of the various elements of Toast are a little on the complicated side, and the number of components and options can make the app a little overwhelming to start with. Thankfully, a number of video tutorials have been included that help to explain just how each element can be used. These tutorials go beyond the simplistic introductions that are often included with applications, helping to provide genuinely useful information to help you to get started and take full advantage of the suite.
Four More Apps with Pro
The Pro version of Roxio Toast 11 includes a number of interesting extra options and tools. If you're looking to copy HD quality video to a standard DVD, you'll need to go down the Pro route, and this version of the software also includes support for Blu-ray burning. In addition to this, Roxio Toast 11 Pro includes four extra applications to help with the creation of your disc projects. Adobe Photo Photoshop Elements is on hand to help with the editing and optimization of your digital photos, whether they are to be used in a slideshow or for a disc cover.
Speaking of slideshows, FotoMagico 3 RE can be used to create a high definition photo composition complete with captions, overlays, transitions and background music. To help with the creation of the perfect backing track, be it for a slideshow or a video, SmartSound SonicFire Pro 5 is included that can be used to create automatic soundtracks based on the mood of your footage. If you have recordings that you would like to use as the basis for sound, BIAS SoundSoap 2 SE can be used to quickly and easily clean up audio tracks, removing unwanted background noise for perfect results.
Each version of Roxio Toast is an improvement on the last, even if the previous version appeared near-perfect at the time. Toast 11 Titanium is no different in this department, with its real selling point being the sheer number of disc burning options it presents you with. No matter what you want to do with your disc burner, be it creating a complete system backup, or creating a DVD of a memorable event, everything you need is included. Just where you take your projects is entirely up to you.
Toast enables you to get things done quickly and easily for fast results, but if you are willing to experiment with the various tools that are available, it is possible to come up with some truly stunning results. Overall, this is a virtually flawless disc burning suite that can cater to all of your disc creation needs. However, if you own a recent version of Toast, particularly version 10, you may find it difficult to justify upgrading to the latest version.
Verdict: A well-rounded bundle of burning tools that can cater to almost every eventuality. Existing Toast users may find little new to entice them into upgrading, but in its own right, this is an outstanding package.
We Like: Support for multiple disc burners, excellent range of video conversion options, handy introductory tutorial videos, good range of backup options, speedy operation.
We Don't Like: Owners of recent versions of Toast may find the new features are not compelling enough to warrant an upgrade, if you don't intend to use all of the features this could be viewed as an expensive suite of tools.
MSRP: $99 Titanium; $149 Pro
Platforms: Mac OS X
Requirements: Intel CPU, 1GB RAM, 1GB HDD, OS X 10.5 or higher