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25 Days of Gadgets - Day 19

December 22, 2008 - Dave Hecei
The holiday is almost here. It really is amazing how the days just fly by in December. Anyways, back to the Mac. Many people buy Macs for its media capabilities. With iLife you have the ability to control your music library, edit home video, create personal websites, and even write or create your own music. Even though OS X and iLife can burn all these to disc, CD or DVD, for you, Roxio’s Toast allows you to do that and so much more.

Roxio Toast 9 is the latest version of the venerable burning program. I have been using Toast since version 3 and have used every version after. Toast lets you burn data, music, and video files to all types of blank media and in many different formats, some the Mac and iLife cannot do.

Toast is a package of several pieces of software. Along with Toast burning software are other pieces like CD Spin Doctor 5 and Get Backup. CD Spin Doctor is an amazing recording program that allows you to convert your old LPs or tapes and make audio CDs. Get Backup is, of course, a backup utility.

One new feature in Spin Doctor 5 is called ‘audio fingerprinting’. When you digitize an LP with Spin Doctor, it will automatically separate each song as a separate track. It can then look at the waveform of an audio track and retrieve the name of the song. It can seem like magic sometimes. This makes the conversion of old music much more automated, especially not having to enter in each and every track name. Spin Doctor 5 even has the ability to record Internet audio files, called streams. If you can hear it, you can record it. Toast 9 can do so much more with video now. Along with the ability to take almost any video format and create VCD, SVCD, and DVD movie discs, you can now convert video formats and stream video over the Internet. A video file can be converted to playback on an iPod or even a Sony PSP. The streaming part allows you send a video file over your network or even over the Internet to another computer or even an iPhone or iPod Touch. This feature should catch the eye of anyone who has a Mac and a TiVo or similar DVR-to-go device. It will also work along with Elgato’s EyeTV 250, an amazing TV tuner box for the Mac that allows your Mac to act like a TiVo, but without the monthly fees.

New to Toast 9, with an add-on $20 plug-in, is the ability to create a Blu-ray DVD. This is an amazing feature, especially to anyone who owns an HDTV, HD camcorder, and Blu-ray player. Toast 8 could take HD video and burn it to a regular DVD, or dual-layer DVD, for playback in a Blu-ray player. Toast 9 goes that extra step and will burn HD content to a Blu-ray disc, with the proper Blu-ray burning drive. If you have an HD camcorder and a Blu-ray player, then you will definitely want to get Toast 9.

Toast 9 has so many new features. Add them to what Toast could already do and you have a media powerhouse. Toast 9 requires at least a G4 processor and OS X 10.4 or better. The full retail version has a street price of $80. For registered Toast users, there is an upgrade version for $59.99, downloaded directly from Roxio.


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