Review: Roxio’s Toast 7 - Macenstein

Review: Roxio’s Toast 7

Posted by Helper Monkey

Roxio’s Toast application has been one of the few “must-have� utilities on the Mac for years. Toast has so dominated its CD/DVD burning niche in recent years that users of DragonBurn and DiscBlaze are almost mythical. In fact, Roxio’s marketing department should offer a reward for photographic proof that users of such software exist, a la Big Foot. So it stands to reason that one might assume Roxio would just go through the motions with an update to its hugely popular Toast 6… maybe tweak the interface, throw in a widget, and call it a day.

While the widget is indeed there, Roxio managed to cram so much more into this update, I can’t imagine they left themselves much room for a version 8. Almost every feature of Toast 6 has been improved in some way, and the list of new features is truly impressive. Here’s a quick run down.

Improved Features
While Toast’s elegant tabbed interface is largely unchanged from version 6, there are big changes under the hood. Roxio has improved the speed and functionality of most of its core functions, such as data disc and audio CD creation, desktop burning, Video/Super Video CD creation, DVD-Video creation, disk image copying and more. Toast 7 also ships with the latest versions of Discus (for labeling), Spin Doctor (for recording and cleaning up audio from old cassettes and LPs), and Motion Pictures HD (for doing really nice moves on still photos). I’m personally a big fan of the Discuss labeling software. I’ve found it to work seamlessly with most ink jets capable of direct-to-disc printing. Motion Pictures HD is also a strong update, and gives you far more control in creating intricate moves and slideshows over what iPhoto alone can deliver. I have fallen in love with the “group pictures� feature, which allows you to lay out multiple images (with moves) on the screen at the same time. As the name implies, Motion Pictures HD now supports both standard and high-definition output of your movies.

(above: the new grouping feature in Motion Pictures HD)

New Features
Apple’s suite of iLife applications is arguably responsible for selling more Macs than even the iPod’s much-hyped “halo effect�. For Toast 7, Roxio fully embraces the iLife applications, and comes very close to becoming the 6th iLife application. Toast 7 features the new “iLife browser�, and this truly makes creating beautiful discs of any kind almost idiot-proof. As a video professional, I have access to Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio, After Effects, etc, but sometimes using a sledgehammer to hang pictures is not your best choice. Toast 7 is the perfect tool for quickly creating very nice looking CDs and DVDs, complete with menus.

The iLife browser is accessed through the “media� button in Toast’s side drawer, or via “photos� and “music� buttons in Motion Pictures HD’s drawer. This handy browser gives you instant access to all of your iLife media. That means iPhoto’s photos (including specific albums), iMovie’s movies, and iTunes’ songs (including playlists) are all right there to be added to your projects.

Toast’s backup feature also gets an overhaul in this release. The new spanning feature allows for the backup of files and folder across multiple discs, similar to the way iTunes allows you to back up your music library across multiple CDs or DVDs. Even applications can be spanned.

The audio DVD finally comes of age with Toast 7. You can now fit over 50 hours of music, complete with on screen menus, smart playlists, and random play. Roxio has expanded the number of audio codecs supported as well, and users can now convert audio files to OGG, FLAC, AAC and more. Both Dolby Digital sound or full-quality 96 kHz, 24 bit audio are supported as well.

DivX fans will also have much to get excited about. Toast now allows users to easily turn iMovie HD or Final Cut HD projects into DivX HD discs. Finally DivX users can watch their movies in the comfort of their own living room (assuming they have a DivX certified HD player).

Other nice features include the ability to easily add custom icons and backgrounds to your discs, and to create custom hybrid discs much more easily than in the past. You are now able to import and copy from set-top DVD recorder discs (as well as DVD camcorders) and extract selected chapters. In our tests we were able to extract a specific episode of The Family Guy from a disc burned on our Phillips recorder, and then re-burn that to a separate disc. You can also quickly capture live audio with the new CD Spin Doctor Desktop Recorder Dashboard widget. Another great feature I was surprised to see is the ability to convert your video to a format compatible with the Sony PlayStation Portable (Guess where that episode of The Family Guy is going?).

If I had to think of one feature Toast 7 is possibly missing, it would be the ability to use music purchased via the iTunes Music store in projects. This is not a limitation of Toast, however, it is due to Apple’s strict digital rights management.

So as with all updates, the question always is, “Is this update worth the money?�

Toast 7 is easily the most full-featured and well laid out burning solution available today, Mac or PC. As I stated at the beginning, I don’t see anywhere for Roxio to go with the next version of Toast. This version literally has it all, and then some. But is it too much for some users? The number of audio CD options is staggering. The new DVD audio features are a big selling point to me as well. The list of new and improved features in Toast 7 is very impressive. But will you use them all? Is this another case of using a sledge hammer to hang a photo?

If all you need to do is burn a couple files to a disc, you don’t need Toast, the Finder can do that.

But if you are like me, and are a Mac user who uses the iLife apps on a regular basis, this update is a no-brainer. I have over 12,000 digital photos I have taken that were doomed to stay locked inside my computer because the steps needed to make decent slideshows were too time-consuming, even in iPhoto. The new iLife integration makes creating professional-looking slideshows (with music) so easy my mother could do it, yet the quality is up there with DVD Studio’s slideshows. In fact, if you use half the features in Toast 7, you’ve made money as far as I am concerned.

Price: $99, (there is a $20 rebate for current owners of the software)
As an application 9.5 out of 10
As an update 9 out of 10

5 Responses to “Review: Roxio’s Toast 7”
  1. Cromacnon says:

    This is a fantastic review. Nicely done.

  2. Wolfman Mac says:

    Just got it.
    This is a great upgrade.
    The Divx support is a great addition.

  3. brendan says:

    how do I burn DVDs from motion picture dvd-videos? please HELP

  4. Cristine says:

    Brendan I to want to burn dvds thru motion pictures to play on a dvd player did you find the answer? please help me too.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Roxio created (in my opinion) one of the more intuitive and cleanly designed interfaces when they released Toast 7 last year, and they have pretty much cloned it for Popcorn 2. The interface contains two main tabs depending on the output you are looking for. Select “DVDâ€? if you intend to copy a DVD, or burn DVDs from an existing VIDEO-TS folder or disk image. Choose “PLAYERâ€? if you want to output to a video iPod, PlayStation Portable (PSP), DIVX player, 3G Phone, generic MP4 player, or generic H.264 player. […]

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