Toast 6

I'm not going to waste any space telling you how great previous versions of Toast have been - there are too many new features to talk about. Suffice to say, Toast has been used and loved by all since CD burners were made affordable. No other company has been able to change that, except perhaps Apple. While many of Toast's features have recently been incorporated into the Mac OS and iApps lately, Toast still offers much that makes it a worthwhile purchase. In times gone by, Toast was bundled with CD burners. Now, most Macs come with a burner, and manufacturers of third-party burners are too price-sensitive to it. The interface is much as it was before: you can choose any format for your CD or DVD - they are divided into data, audio, video and direct copying. But that's just the start. A new version of CD Spin doctor is included, and it introduces further controls over the sound of your music. It's designed to help you digitize analogue music - vinyl, cassette, or reel-to-reel. The recorded audio is then filtered and tweaked to eliminate hiss, crackle and clicks. Each aspect has a slider that can be adjusted. I took an ancient Pink Floyd album and imported it using CD Spin Doctor. It did an amazing job of cleaning it up, and the extra effects made it sound better than the original. They used to call this digital remastering, and though the pros may have more-sophisticated tools, this works very well. In theory CD Spin Doctor can also take a whole album and split it into individual tracks. However, the continuous nature of a Pink Floyd album did confuse it. I'm sure it would work better on something less experimental. Label-making
Once you've done the remastering, Toast can be used to make a CD that will play in your stereo - but CDs with felt-pen writing on them are so tacky. Fear not - Toast comes to the rescue with Discus. Discus is an application to design labels and inserts for CDs and jewel cases. It's basic enough for kids to use, yet sophisticated enough to be customizable. Simply choose a template - it includes dozens for just about all the label-media available. It also includes templates for CD card inserts, but as this is the lite version, there are some bits missing. If you want to make DVD case inserts or audiocassette labels, you need to buy an upgrade from Magic Mouse ($39, The final extra application included is called Motion Pictures. Contrary to its name, it's an application for still images, which it puts together in slide shows. It uses what Apple calls the Ken Burns Effect to make the images come to life. If you're unfamiliar with the effect, it's the kind used in documentaries where still pictures are slowly panned, zoomed, and blended into one another. It's very effective, especially when set to music. The finished product can then be burnt to CD or DVD to share with family and friends. Plug and Burn is another new feature. This allows the user to archive digital-video footage before editing. Simply plug a DV camera into the FireWire drive and choose DVD, SVCD, or VCD from the menu. You can burn directly onto your disc without any fuss. This works well if you want to give somebody a rough, unedited version as a quick first look at your movie. The final - and possibly the most innovative feature - is ToastAnywhere. ToastAnywhere lets users burn CDs even if they don't have a CD player. Well, sort of. It lets you burn CDs across the network using Rendezvous. This means that if you have ten people in an office, but only one CD burner, all you need is extra copies of Toast. The interface is exactly the same, but users select a CD or DVD drive on somebody else's machine. The file is then transferred and burnt in the remote drive.


I was wondering what the people at Roxio could possible add to Toast beyond supporting a couple of new formats. It was already a mature product, and great leaps forward in technology are rare. However, Toast 6 has come up with the goods. There are many reasons to upgrade, and even more reasons to buy it if you haven't already.

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