Toast 7 includes DivX, iLife browsing, much more

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Roxio at the end of the month will release a new version of their CD and DVD burning software for the Mac — Toast 7 Titanium. While the new release looks similar to its predecessor, it features extensive changes under the hood, including support for the DivX video compression format, the ability to browse iLife content and many other changes. Expected to hit North American stores on August 31, 2005, Toast 7 Titanium will cost $99, with a $20 rebate form inside the box for users of older versions of Toast and other products. Roxio has also sent out e-mails to registered users of Toast 6 Titanium with other special offers.

Easier, Better, Possible

With the slogan of “Easier, Better, Possible,” Roxio’s focus of Toast 7 Titanium is to make difficult tasks easier, to improve the way existing features work and to introduce new capabilities that haven’t been possible until now.

Data capabilities expanded

With Toast 7 Titanium, Roxio has added an iLife Browser that makes it possible to browse and drag and drop content from your iLife applications directly into toast. iTunes music and playlists appear, for example, as do iPhoto photos and albums. iMovie projects show up in that list, as do iDVD lists and Video_TS folders from DVDs you’ve ripped to your hard disk. What’s more, Toast 7 Titanium integrates with Elgato’s EyeTV PVR software, so you can drag and drop television shows you’ve recorded to your hard disk.

New to this release is support for data spanning, so you can use Toast 7 Titanium to backup and archive content that spans multiple CDs or DVDs. When the data is burnt to CD or DVD, a standalone Mac OS X application called Roxio Restore is also included on each disc. This lets you restore data without having to use the Toast application. What’s more, Roxio Restore can restore individual files or folders, if you’re just looking for a few bits of what you’ve backed up.

Other data-related features added to this new version including disc personalization with custom icons and backgrounds; the ability to import and copy content from “VR” discs — supported by many set-to- DVD recorders and camcorders. Roxio has also added a “Mount It” function that lets you mount and create virtual disk images from the desktop.

New and improved audio features

Support for Dolby Digital audio makes it possible for Toast 7 Titanium to be used to make audio DVDs. Using the default settings, you can burn more than 50 hours of music to a single DVD, with on-screen TV menus, automatic “SmartLists” and shuffle features, to create a compilation disc for parties, for example, to compile a multi-CD boxed set onto a single blank DVD, podcasting archives and more.

Also new to this release is support for Ogg Vorbis and Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) audio formats. You can use Ogg and FLAC in your audio CDs, import and export music in those formats and more.

Tiger users also gain the Desktop Recorder Dashboard Widget, a handy utility that enables you to capture live audio using CD Spin Doctor, a companion application that’s also included with Toast 7 Titanium. You can use it to record voice memos or audio from any analog source.

CD Spin Doctor lets users import audio from analog sources like records and audio tapes, editing tracks, reducing noise and enhancing sound quality as well. The software’s ease of use has been improved, with the ability to define tracks by clicking on the waveform. Discus, another companion application used for producing custom CD labels and covers, has also been improved.

Video overhaul

Roxio’s Popcorn software enables Mac users to burn complete 9GB dual-layer DVDs to a standard 4.7GB DVD by compressing the video. That functionality has been built into Toast 7 Titanium, as well.

Motion Pictures HD is the latest version of Toast’s technology for creating slideshows from still images. You can use motion effects, transitions, titles and background soundtracks — what’s more, you can also add collages of multiple photos in a single frame (what the Roxio folks call the “24” effect, after the popular Fox television shows intros and outros). These slideshows can be burnt to DVD or DivX HD in standard and high definition video formats, for maximum detail.

Toast 7 Titanium includes ten different DVD menu styles that let you create your own custom DVDs similarly to iDVD. You can add chapters and slide menus using a slideshow shuffle mode. And because Toast now recognizes Video_TS folders, you can import individual chapters from DVDs you’ve ripped to your desktop, making it possible to create “Director’s Cuts” containing just the content you want.

Also new to this release is support for DivX, the popular MPEG-4 based compression technology that’s seen wide support on the PC platform and from some DVD player manufacturers, as well. Toast 7 Titanium enables users who have downloaded DivX content to drag and drop those files and burn them to a DVD that can be played back in any DVD player. The Toast 7 installer includes DivX 6 Pro encoding software for the Macintosh, which hasn’t yet been released to the general public.

Roxio has also incorporated DivX HD support into Toast 7 Titanium. DivX HD is a true high definition playback technology that lets you view content at 720p resolution — 1,280 x 720 pixels using progressive scanning. Roxio anticipates this will come in particularly handy for Mac users who have are working on iMovie 5 projects, which supports HD content, as well as Final Cut Pro 5.

Video DVDs containing DivX HD content can be played back on DivX HD-certified DVD players, which are already available. It’s important to differentiate these devices, which support regular DVDs and recordable DVDs encoded with DivX HD content, from HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, two competing high definition DVD formats that aren’t yet commercially available.

Toast 7 Titanium’s video conversion doesn’t end with DivX, either — you can convert videos to versions suitable for playback on 3GPP-equipped cell phones and handheld devices, H.264 players and Sony’s PlayStation Portable (PSP). You can also extract audio tracks from video for use in iTunes or other audio applications, audio CDs and more. A printed Getting Started guide even offers detailed instructions for PSP users who want to move video onto their game players using a USB 2.0 cable.

System requirements for Toast 7 Titanium call for a G4 or faster, Mac OS X v10.3.9 or later (the Dashboard widget requires Tiger), 300MB free hard disk space, 15GB temporary disk space during usage, QuickTime 7, and a CD or DVD burner. Optional products include Apple’s iLife 05 software, an EyeTV PVR, DivX Certified player, and a stereo cable (for converting audio from analog sources).

Included with Toast 7 Titanium is CD Spin Doctor, Motion Pictures HD, Deja Vu — a backup software utility — and the Discus RE labeling software.

This story, "Toast 7 includes DivX, iLife browsing, much more" was originally published by PCWorld.

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