Review: Roxio Toast 10 Titanium and Toast 10 Titanium Pro

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Date: Tuesday, February 24th, 2009, 15:59
Category: Review

By Robert Kaneko
Roxio has once again updated their flagship authoring software package. The latest update, Toast 10 Titanium, continues the natural evolution of a mature product. It gives the user some hints about where Roxio might go with the product as we begin to approach the end of the general use optical storage era. It also presents users with a choice. Roxio has, for the first time, split the product into two versions. There is Toast 10 Titanium, which is the standard version of Toast that users have come to know and love. There is also Toast 10 Titanium Pro, a new variant that basically includes four extra third party authoring solutions in with the basic Toast package.
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Let me admit up front that I am a long time fan of Toast. It sits on my short list of “must have” applications. As I noted in my Toast 9 Titanium review last year, I find it an invaluable resource for authoring and archiving beyond the basics provided by Apple’s iDVD, iTunes and Finder disc burning features. In addition, Roxio seems to anticipate that one new feature that I didn’t even know I needed that makes me want to open my wallet one more time.
Toast 10 Titanium has joined the growing list of applications that now requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later. The funny thing is, I didn’t know that when I started this review. Sitting comfortably in my world of ignorance, I installed Toast on my trusty PowerBook G4 running OS X 10.4.11. It worked beautifully! I used most of the new features, including the ability to download and convert flash video from sites like YouTube, and they worked perfectly. I might have run into problems with AVCHD support or Blu-ray, but since I don’t have hardware that supports those features I remained blissfully unaware. Toast and SonicFire Pro 5 (part of the Toast 10 Titanium Pro package) both worked flawlessly. It wasn’t until I tried using the new Mac2TiVo feature that I realized there was a problem. That’s when I actually read the system requirements and moved the installation to a Leopard machine.
If you are familiar with any of the recent versions of Toast, especially Toast 9, Toast 10 is nearly identical. Roxio has once again polished the interface, dropping the styling of Toast 9 in favor of a more Leopard-friendly look, but the general structure of the program remains largely unchanged.
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Click the jump for the full review…


By Robert Kaneko
Roxio has once again updated their flagship authoring software package. The latest update, Toast 10 Titanium, continues the natural evolution of a mature product. It gives the user some hints about where Roxio might go with the product as we begin to approach the end of the general use optical storage era. It also presents users with a choice. Roxio has, for the first time, split the product into two versions. There is Toast 10 Titanium, which is the standard version of Toast that users have come to know and love. There is also Toast 10 Titanium Pro, a new variant that basically includes four extra third party authoring solutions in with the basic Toast package.
toastx1.jpg
Let me admit up front that I am a long time fan of Toast. It sits on my short list of “must have” applications. As I noted in my Toast 9 Titanium review last year, I find it an invaluable resource for authoring and archiving beyond the basics provided by Apple’s iDVD, iTunes and Finder disc burning features. In addition, Roxio seems to anticipate that one new feature that I didn’t even know I needed that makes me want to open my wallet one more time.
Toast 10 Titanium has joined the growing list of applications that now requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later. The funny thing is, I didn’t know that when I started this review. Sitting comfortably in my world of ignorance, I installed Toast on my trusty PowerBook G4 running OS X 10.4.11. It worked beautifully! I used most of the new features, including the ability to download and convert flash video from sites like YouTube, and they worked perfectly. I might have run into problems with AVCHD support or Blu-ray, but since I don’t have hardware that supports those features I remained blissfully unaware. Toast and SonicFire Pro 5 (part of the Toast 10 Titanium Pro package) both worked flawlessly. It wasn’t until I tried using the new Mac2TiVo feature that I realized there was a problem. That’s when I actually read the system requirements and moved the installation to a Leopard machine.
If you are familiar with any of the recent versions of Toast, especially Toast 9, Toast 10 is nearly identical. Roxio has once again polished the interface, dropping the styling of Toast 9 in favor of a more Leopard-friendly look, but the general structure of the program remains largely unchanged.
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The core competencies of the program remain intact. Burning CDs or DVDs is a simple matter of inserting the disc into you machine and dragging your data into the main Toast window. Roxio has eliminated a number of supported features from version 9, most of which are obsolete, while adding several new features. Notable deletions from this version of Toast are support for HD-DVD and Divx video discs. While I doubt many people will miss the HD-DVD support, Divx may be another matter. Divx is still a very popular video format and while I usually find myself using h.264, there have been times when I encoded in Divx for one reason or another. Is the loss of Divx a deal breaker? Hardly. However I did like having the option. Blu-ray support is currently included with Toast. However, it is supposedly a limited time offer. Once the introductory period ends, adding Blu-ray support will cost you an extra $20. Roxio’s reasoning is that user demand for the feature is limited and they didn’t want to burden users with extra royalty fees.
In exchange for losing HD-DVD and Divx, users have been given AVCHD archive support, DVD clip extraction, web video saving and conversion, audiobook CD conversion and Mac2Tivo. I believe the tradeoffs are more than worth it.
AVCHD archiving is a feature that lets the user easily backup the original footage from their AVCHD-based high definition camcorder. While it was possible to do this in the past by moving your AVCHD files from your camcorder to your computer and then burn them to DVDs from there, Toast 10 has cut out the middle man. As an added benefit, AVCHD archives will play back in a Blu-ray player. I don’t have an AVCHD camcorder, nor do I have a Blu-ray player so I couldn’t actually test these features. I know I lamented the lack of HDV support in Toast 9. Toast 10 has not changed this. I did do a little snooping on the Internet and there have been some issues reported surrounding the AVCHD archiving support. Again, I have not tested the feature, but I think it’s important to be aware of the possibility of problems. If you are like me, and you buy a product because of a specific feature, it is vitally important that that feature work. Often, problems with features like this are due to camera incompatibilities. If this is the feature you want, I would double-check camera compatibility before buying.
DVD clip extraction is useful, but as with all previous versions of Toast, it doesn’t work on commercially-encrypted DVDs. You can always rip the DVD to your hard drive first and then use the DVD clip extraction features, but that adds an extra layer of work. The feature works well with home-made DVDs and if you are looking to pull a clip out of last weekend’s high school basketball game to show your team it is the perfect tool.
Web video saving and converting is probably my favorite new feature. There are other ways to save and convert video from YouTube and other web sources, but none are as easy or full featured.
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To capture video, you simply open it in your web browser. Toast will capture it in the background and when it is done loading you can drag it from Toast’s media browser for conversion to another file format or to burn to a disc.
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Now I can load up my iPod Touch with all the video I want to watch from YouTube when I’m away from WiFi. In a more practical example, I was approached by a friend who needed a clip of Kilauea erupting for her son’s school report. Downloading and converting the clip for playback on the school’s computer was a snap. Sure, he could have shown the clip straight from YouTube, but he wanted to insert it into a Powerpoint presentation.
Audiobook CD conversion is a huge addition for fans of audiobooks. Personally, I love audiobooks and I get most of mine from Audible.com. However, there are a number of titles that are only available on CD. One notable title that I recently converted in iTunes is Harry Potter. The downside to using iTunes is that it imports the chapters as individual files. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, a seven disc set, ended up being 169 different files. Toast 10 will let you easily import the same set as a single audio file with chapter markers intact.
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It is a much more elegant solution, especially if you are planning to move the content between multiple devices.
Mac2TiVo is an incredibly cool solution if you are a TiVo owner. It allows you to set up a folder on your hard drive as a TiVo video source. If you own multiple TiVos, and you’ve used the TiVo transfer feature that lets you move shows from one TiVo to another, you are already familiar with the process. Simply start the Mac2TiVo app, designate a folder that holds your content and click on the “Start Server” button.
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You Mac will show up on the TiVo’s “Now Playing List” and you can transfer your content from there. It is worth noting that DRM protected video files from iTunes would not work, however DRM-free and ripped DVD files worked perfectly.
Toast 10′s support applications have also been given updates. CD Spin Doctor has been enhanced to make it significantly easier to convert captured audio to iTunes music files. Streamer now has an accompanying iPhone/iPod Touch app available for free through the iTunes app store to make the process of viewing your Streamer files even easier.
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You could easily set up your Mac to automatically transfer TiVo shows, convert them and upload them to Streamer. If you have an iPhone or an iPod Touch with WiFi access you could then watch your shows from anywhere. Get Backup 2 now features the ability to Synchronize folders.
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It’s a great solution for creating a backup of folders on you laptop or for synching between multiple machines.
Toast 10 Titanium is another good upgrade from Roxio. It is a product that is evolving quickly to meet the needs of its media savvy customers. If you liked the new features in Toast 9, Toast 10 extends them in a way that I think is well worth the price of the upgrade. If you are looking for the best burning and media conversion toolkit available for the Mac, Toast 10 Titanium is it.
Toast 10 Titanium Pro
I wanted to say a bit about Toast 10 Titanium Pro, but I left it for the end so that those of you interested only in Toast 10 Titanium wouldn’t have to wade through the information. The “Pro” adds four third party authoring apps to the Toast 10 package. These apps include LightZone which is a non-destructive photo editing package, FotoMagico which is a slide show generator, Sonicfire Pro 5 which is a royalty-free soundtrack generator and SoundSoap SE 2.2 which is an audio cleanup app. The retail value of the four programs is around US$300 if you buy them separately so it’s a definite bargain at the US$50 premium Roxio is charging over the standard version of Toast. Of course, bargains are relative. If you don’t have a need for any of the apps, US$50 is a waste of money. Most users will probably use iPhoto instead of FotoMagico and LightZone. That isn’t to say that FotoMagico and LightZone aren’t good apps. They do any number of things that iPhoto won’t, but if you don’t use them, it doesn’t really matter. Soundsoap is a GREAT app for cleaning up audio. If you record audio from records, or you have a cheap microphone for your Podcasts, SoundSoap is awesome at getting rid of pops and hiss. For me, Sonicfire Pro made the “Pro” version worth the price of admission. I do a lot of video work and I have been a fan of Smartsounds products ever since they integrated Smartsound into Adobe Premiere 6.5. If you are musically challenged, Sonicfire provides an extremely easy way to create royalty-free soundtracks for your video projects that match the mood and length of your productions. In addition, Smartsound has integrated online library purchases in the product. If a music style or theme you want isn’t available in the libraries that ship with the product, they probably have something available on their website that will be an appropriate solution. The libraries aren’t cheap, but they are a great solution if you don’t have the time or the talent to create your own music. So, do I recommend the “Pro” version over the standard version of Toast 10 Titanium? It depends on your needs. If even one of the apps in the “Pro” version proves useful to you, then I think it’s worth it. If not, I’d stick with the regular version. Either way, I believe Toast 10 Titanium is a product that should be on everyone’s Mac.
If you’ve tried Toast 10 Titanium or Toast 10 Titanium Pro and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments or forums.

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