Review: Roxio delivers complete rewrite in Toast 11

March 11, 2011

This welcome whole number release comes to market sans legacy PowerPC support, but we’ve gained a very long list of features. Social networking integration might seem a little nebulous, but there’s also enhanced iLife integration and a greatly improved user interface — there’s a lot to like about Toast 11.

Earlier this week, Roxio announced that it’s now shipping Toast 11 ($99.99) and Toast 11 Pro ($149.99), with the difference in price coming down to which plug-ins and apps are bundled:

      • Toast 11: Disc Cover 3 RE, DiscCatalogMaker RE, Get Backup 2 RE, Mac2Tivo, Spin Doctor, TiVo Transfer
      — HD/BD Plug-in pack available separately for $19.99

      • Toast 11 Pro: Toast 11 HD/BD Plug-in, Adobe Photoshop Elements 9, FotoMagico 3 RE, SoundSoap 2 SE, SoundSoap 2 AU Plug-in for Toast, Sonicfire Pro 5

Getting under the hood

Whereas configuring version 10 spawned an often confusing array of pop ups, Toast 11’s user interface has been completely rewritten, which is not only more attractive but also keeps the task at hand anchored in the main window.

The new integrated file and iLife media browser greatly simplifies navigation. For example, putting together a family slide show disk with music is now a creamy smooth process.

Two new features that I’ve already started using are custom video profiles — configure once, use many times — and scheduled conversions. The latter is a “set it and forget it” bit of functionality that makes creating iPad and iPhone compatible vids during the overnight hours when your Mac has nothing better to do an absolute snap.

That is, queue the videos, schedule ‘em and your conversions will be ready in the morning.

Less than perfect parts

It’s great that Toast 11 now offers one-click — after they’ve been set up — YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook publishing. However, MobileMe and Picasa integration are sorely missed.

Another a little hit, a little miss feature is VideoBoost, which can speed up H.264 (high definition) video conversion and encoding. The catch here is that it’s available on Macs with nVidia graphics cards, which are only standard in the current generation MacBook, MacBook Air and Mac mini.

Granted, this isn’t a Toast problem per se. The issue is that CUDA, the technology behind VideoBoost, isn’t supported by the ATI graphics cards in most Macs — no drivers.

But wait, there’s more…

There are three features/apps that I haven’t had time to try, but are definitely worth a mention here — streamed audio capture (any app, any source), DVD clip extraction and the ability to capture and convert web video. Whereas VideoBox with its slick Safari integration is my go to app for web video (and it’s paid for), I currently don’t have a streamed audio capture app or DVD clip extractor program in my Applications folder, so at the very least I know where to start when need arises.

Further, if you’ve got an extra $50 for Toast 11 Pro, Adobe Photoshop Elements ($99 SRP) alone pays the freight and that’s just one of additional apps bundled with this version.

Roxio Toast 11 is a huge improvement over the previous release — the interface rewrite plus file and media browser integration makes this an easy to recommend upgrade. All of the other features — custom profiles, scheduled conversion, YouTube integration, etc. — are just gravy…

What’s your take?

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