Tuesday, 23 August 2005

Fahrenheit 451

Why should anyone buy Toast 7 Titanium if they're already using iLife '05 and/or Toast 6? A simple answer is problematical. However, after putting Roxio's latest iteration through its paces, I can't imagine not seeing Toast 7 taking pride of place in the Dock!

Firstly, Toast now incorporates the DVD compression features showcased in Popcorn (presumably defunct). Copy and compress a 9GB dual-layer DVD to a standard 4.7GB recordable DVD disc. Avoid artefacts by extracting the movie, language and audio format of your choice only.

A DivX Pro codec license is available out-of-the-box and interpolates with iMovie HD and Final Cut HD. The DivX format is reaching critical mass and DivX HD DVD players are all the rage. On the strength of this new feature alone, I'll be purchasing a DivX Certified DVD player and will post my experiences.

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). Now that Sony's PSP is clearly a global phenomenon and UMD (contradictory to expectations) is meeting little consumer resistance (Woolworths' aisles are flooded with pre-order movie product). The AVC encoding facility maybe enough to compel users to upgrade.

I've experimented with converting H.264 to Sony's specified codec with subjectively pleasing results, but will be better placed to judge its effectiveness when review hardware arrives: the teaser trailer for Serenity was reformatted from 480 x 204 to 368 x 208 and black bars automatically inserted.

The only fly in the ointment, aside from a few quirks (to be expected with any new software release), is the acquiescence to Apple's dictate regarding music purchased from iTunes Music Store; you cannot burn a CD or DVD using songs legally downloaded! This 'feature' was introduced in Toast 6.1.

Do you want more?