Roxio Toast 9 Titanium

Toast Titanium 9 Offers a Wealth of New Features

Roxio Toast Titanium 9
Roxio Toast Titanium 9. Courtesy of Sonic Solutions

Update: Roxio Toast Titanium is currently at version 14 and remains a popular application for video and audio content creation, including the ability to author DVDs.

The original Roxio Toast 9 Titanium review continues:

It’s been a little over a year since Roxio released Toast 8 Titanium, a well-regarded CD/DVD application that proved to be quite versatile, offering plenty of features for CD and DVD creators.

With the release of Toast 9 Titanium, Roxio has set an ambitious goal: to outdo its own product, without adding bloat or trivial features.

I’m pleased to report that Roxio succeeded. Toast 9 Titanium took an already good product and wrapped a more intuitive user interface around it; then, for good measure, it threw in new features that will please Mac users from casual to professional.

Toast 9 Titanium - Installation

Toast 9 Titanium ships with six applications, all of which are loaded into the Toast 9 Titanium folder the installer creates in your Applications folder.

By using a new folder, Roxio allows Toast 9 Titanium and earlier versions of Toast to co-exist, at least as far as I have seen in my testing. I was even able to launch Toast 8 and Toast 9 at the same time, although I don’t recommend attempting to use them concurrently.

The one surprising oversight is that the installer fails to copy the Toast 9 Titanium documentation folder from the CD or disk image to the Mac.

Before you eject the installation CD, take a moment to manually copy the documentation folder to the Toast 9 Titanium folder. If you forget to copy the documentation folder, you can still access the documentation from any Toast application’s Help menu, but I prefer to read a standalone PDF.

Roxio deposits six applications into the Toast 9 Titanium folder: Toast Titanium, Streamer, CD Spin Doctor, Disc Cover 2 RE, DiscCatalogMaker RE, and Get Backup RE.

New with this version, Streamer is an application that lets you use your wired or wireless network to stream video from your Mac to other Macs and PCs, or even an iPhone or iPod Touch. You can also stream video over the Internet, which means you can watch a show stored on your Mac from a remote location. Also new in this version is Get Backup RE, a basic but well-designed backup application.

Toast 9 Titanium - First Impressions

Toast 9 is a collection of six different products, but the core application is Toast itself. When you launch Toast 9, a familiar yet nicely updated window opens. The three-pane interface is still here, but it has been refined with better organization and functionality.

The Category sections were moved to the top of the project pane, and now include five choices: Data, Audio, Video, Copy, and Convert, which may be one of the best new features. The Project Type list, which sits just below the Category sections, changes depending on the category you select. The options for a project are clearly outlined below the project type.

The largest pane is the Content area, where you drag and drop the data, audio, or video files you want Toast to work on. At the bottom is the Recording area, which supplies information about your CD/DVD writer and its current status, and houses the control for starting the burn process.

Overall, the changes are subtle, but they go a long way toward making Toast easier to navigate. The drab gray interface of previous versions of Toast has been invigorated with touches of color that accent the functions of the interface. Roxio resisted the temptation to add color just because everyone else is doing it. Instead, the changes were driven by improved functionality and were well thought out.

Toast 9 Titanium - Convert

One of the newest features in Toast 9 is the Convert category. Borrowing functionality from Roxio’s Popcorn application, Toast is now able to perform 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; more on that later.

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, DivX, MPEG-4, and QuickTime Movie.

Toast 9 can also convert audio files to various formats, but for some reason, it lacks the ability to preset the file type you wish to convert to and instead requires you to select the format at the time of conversion. Not a big deal, but I can’t help but wonder why there’s a lack of consistency between converting video and audio formats.

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 9 Titanium - Recording Area

I have to say, I was happy to see the recording size indicator changed from the gauge that wrapped around the Record button in previous versions of Toast. Now there’s a true size gauge that runs linearly along the bottom of the Toast window. The size gauge now displays the total space a project will take up, and the amount of remaining space on a blank disk. You can also set the blank disk type or destination file size.

The Recording area has been further enhanced by combining all recording functions into one area, including the selected recorder status, recording options, disk type selector, the Record button, and my favorite, Save as Disc Image, which is now a button in the Recording area, rather than a menu item. It’s odd that Roxio added a Save as Disc Image button to the Recording area, but left the Save as Bin/Cue option in the menu. I’ve never used this option, but for the sake of consistency, I would have expected both options to be added as buttons. Perhaps Roxio decided to leave that particular refinement for the next version.

Toast 9 Titanium - Blu-ray, Hurrah!

Toast 9 has more support for Blu-ray and HD-DVD burning than Toast 8 could handle. But it comes at a price; a $20 price, to be exact. Blu-ray and HD-DVD support are only available through a plug-in that is a separate purchase.

Toast 8 could burn Blu-ray data disks, but was unable to create Blu-ray video DVDs. With the new plug-in, Toast 9 can copy both data and HD video files. What’s more, it can grab HD files from TiVo, EyeTV, or directly from an AVCHD camcorder.

Of course, if you haven’t purchased a third-party Blu-ray drive yet, you won’t have a destination for those beautiful HD files. Toast 9 provides an elegant solution to this dilemma, although this workaround may not suit everyone. You can burn HD files to a standard DVD, single- or double-layered, and it will work the same as a Blu-ray disc would in a Blu-ray player. The tradeoff with using a standard DVD is time; you’re limited to about 15 minutes of HD content when you burn to a standard DVD. This may be adequate for home HD movies you pull off your HD camera, but if you’re copying video from a source such as EyeTV or TiVo, you’re going to need a Blu-ray burner.

The Blu-ray/HD-DVD plug-in comes with 15 HD menu styles to help you put a professional polish on your HD recordings.

Toast 9 Titanium - Additional New Features

Toast 9 has additional new features that make it a must-have for video and audio enthusiasts. One of my favorites is Toast’s improved ability to create DVD video compilations. Merging multiple DVD video folders is now a simple drag-and-drop process, unlike the multi-step process in previous versions.

Mac users will appreciate Toast’s support for El Gato’s EyeTV. With Toast 9, this partnership has gone a step further. Toast 9 can recognize the presence of El Gato's Turbo.264 video coprocessor and use it to speed up video conversions to the H.264 formats used by iPods, Apple TV, and Sony PSP.

Toast 9 also has a new ability to pause the video encoding process. Video encoding is one of the most CPU-intensive applications most of us will ever encounter. During encoding, some Macs will drag their feet if you try to simultaneously work in other applications. Now you can simply pause Toast while it’s encoding and free up CPU cycles for other tasks.

In addition to using El Gato’s hardware encoder, Toast also uses the video editor included with EyeTV, allowing you to edit your video material. It’s not a sophisticated editor by any means, but it allows you to remove commercials from shows you record.

Last but not least on the video compression and encoding improvement front: Before you commit to a long encoding process, you can preview the post-encoding video, which saves time and helps ensure that you’ve chosen the appropriate encoding settings.

Toast 9 Titanium - Streamer

Streamer is the newest standalone application that Roxio added to Toast. As its name implies, it allows you to use your Mac to stream video over the Internet (or your network) to other Macs or PCs, as well as an iPhone or iPod Touch.

Streaming content is hosted by Roxio; you’ll need to set up a free streaming account before you can take advantage of this feature. Once you’ve created your account, the URL for your streaming videos will be: http://streamer.roxio.com/your-account-name.

Streamer is a tool for preparing video files for streaming. If the files haven’t already been optimized for Internet use, Streamer will re-encode the files and automatically list them at your streaming account URL. Simply go to the URL and click on one of the videos in the list to start streaming playback of that video.

Roxio doesn’t store the video on its website, so your Mac must be on. You’ll also need a fairly fast Internet connection for streaming to be effective. If you meet these requirements, you can travel the world and watch a video that is stored on your Mac at home.

Toast 9 Titanium - Wrap Up

Toast 9 Titanium is a video and audio toolbox that can single-handedly perform many functions that used to require separate applications. With its new ability to convert files to multiple formats, batch convert files, and author Blu-ray discs, Toast has become my go-to application for video authoring.

Oh, and it can burn CDs, too.

My only real disappointment with Toast 9 is that the Blu-ray/HD-DVD plug-in is an added-cost option. Otherwise, the cons I’ve discovered while using the application over the past two weeks have been minor, and may well be more a matter of my preferred methods of working than any failing of Toast.

Toast 9 Titanium deserves serious consideration as your main application for burning CDs and DVDs and working with video and audio projects.

Reviewer's Notes

  • A review copy of Toast Titanium 9 was provided by Roxio.
  • The review was performed on a 3 GHz 4-core Mac Pro with 6 GB of RAM.
  • Toast 9 requires OS X 10.4.x or later and a Mac with a G4 or later processor.
  • Blu-ray and HD-DVD authoring require a separate, added-cost plug-in (currently $20).

Published: 4/30/2008

Updated: 11/08/2015