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Toast's DVD-burning options aren't nearly as comprehensive as iDVD's, but they're great for quick burns.
Toast 8 Titanium nails all of our disc-burning needs with support for nearly every format and situation we can imagine, but it almost loses focus, including several utilities and features that you may not need. As multitalented as Toast is, we wish we could buy it with just its robust burning options.
Toast's comprehensive burning abilities are still its bread and butter. While HD-DVD burning support is forthcoming for the still-rare hardware, Toast tackles Blu-ray, dual-layer DVDs, CD-Rs, rewritable discs, and every other common disc media format. For audio discs, it burns MP3 CDs, music DVDs, audio CDs, and more. Just drag files of nearly any popular format - MP3, AAC, OGG, FLAC, WAV, and others - into its window to automatically convert them into the proper format for the disc. Protected AAC files from the iTunes Store aren't supported, but that's not Roxio's fault.
The software's video-disc formats are just as comprehensive, with the ability to burn video CDs, super video CDs, movie DVDs, and DivX discs. As with the audio discs, you just drag one of Toast's many supported formats - anything QuickTime, plus MPEG, DivX, and more - into the window, and the app formats them. WMV, however, isn't supported unless you install Flip4Mac's WMV Player Pro ($29, www.flip4mac.com). Toast even creates quick DVD movie interfaces. They lack the full gloss of iDVD or DVD Studio Pro interfaces, but don't require all the work.
If you extract the video from a movie DVD, Toast will burn it onto another disc. This process works well with uncommon or homemade DVDs that lack copy protection, but you can't use Toast to back up commercial, copy-protected DVDs. Since most movie DVDs include several layers of data, Toast can even compress the movie and its menus into a standard 4.7GB DVD while retaining much of the image quality.
Data-disc support is also robust, with the ability to burn Mac-formatted discs, hybrid discs for the Mac and PC, ISO 9660, and others. The easy-to-use interface lets you throw together quick discs within Toast, or Control-click anything in the Finder to instantly launch Toast and prepare a disc. Toast even supports multidisc spanning to save large files across more than one disc. This feature burns a small utility to reconstruct the original files, so recipients (using Mac OS X or Windows) don't need Toast installed.
Thanks to a brand-new feature, Toast now lets Mac users transfer video from a networked Series 2 TiVo. Of course, this would make much more sense as a stand-alone app. If you feel put off by spending $100 for a TiVo feature that Windows users get for free, try TiVoDecode Manager (tdm.sourceforge.net), a free application that gives your Mac access to your Series 2 TiVo's content.
One of the best features in Toast 8 is in the realm of video processing. We used it to compress and export videos to an iPod, including our TiVo's shows. Still, video exports have their limitations: TiVo files are restricted to 320 by 240 pixels and don't allow the same advanced options as other videos. And while Toast lets users trim the beginning and ending times of a video, you can't make simple cuts to the middle to remove commercials.
Toast bundles a few small utilities with limited appeal that relate to disc burning. Some of the extra features record audio, build slideshows, create disc art, catalog a disc library, and facilitate backups. They all do what they claim, but not as well as built-in or third-party tools.
The bottom line. Toast 8 Titanium's extras are only occasionally useful, but its vast support for disc burners and formats makes it easy to recommend.
REQUIREMENTS: G4 or later or Intel processor, Mac OS 10.4.8 or later, recordable optical drive
Wide support for media, hardware, audio, video, and disc formats. Large burns span across discs. Video can be processed for iPod. Universal binary.
Extra utilities add little punch. WMV importing requires third-party tool. Won't back up most commercial DVD movies. Windows users get TiVoToGo for free.