to more burning questions on the DVD front
by Alan Zisman (c) 2004 First published in Business in Vancouver
July 6-12, 2004; issue 767 High Tech Office column
When I first became aware of CD burners, about a decade ago, the
hardware cost about $1,000 or so, and the blank discs were $25 each.
And this rare and exotic hardware required fancy specialized software
to make it work. Now most computers have built-in recordable CD drives,
and DVD burners are increasingly common and affordable. Recent Windows
and Mac operating systems let users burn basic discs right from the
For companies like Roxio
which makes the most
popular CD-burning programs for both Windows and Mac, the pressure is
on to add features and improve usability to differentiate its products
from the bare-bones versions built into the operating system or the
somewhat more fleshed-out products typically bundled with CD or DVD
To a large extent, both of their new versions, Easy Media Creator 7
for Windows and Toast 6
Mac, succeed at those goals.
Earlier versions of the Windows product were frequently bundled with CD
burners under the name Easy
The new name reflects Roxio's vision of version 7 acting as
clearinghouse for a wide range of non-professional media projects.
As before, there's software for burning audio and data discs: both CDs
and DVDs are supported. A Drag to Disc feature can be used to treat
burnable discs as great big floppy diskettes, simply dragging files to
copy. A label creator lets you design and print out round labels to
stick onto the discs along with jewel-box inserts.
Also included are a host of fully featured stand-alone programs:
PhotoSuite editing software, DVD Builder and video editor VideoWave.
There's a media manager, a sound editor and more, including software
for the new Roxio-owned for-profit Napster online music store. You can
copy non-protected DVDs (sorry, Hollywood movies don't fall under this
All of these are easily accessed through a spruced-up home module,
which makes it look and feel like the various programs really were
designed to work together.
Links between the various pieces make for a more natural workflow. If
you don't have need for all the modules, you can pick and choose which
to install. As well, there's a second CD filled with sample content;
installation is optional.
The new version seems stable; something that was not always the case
with often-patched earlier releases. About $100.
Roxio's Mac OSX product has fewer modules than the Windows version,
perhaps because Apple provides Mac OS X users with its iLife suite of
digital media software, but it does it all with simple elegance. There
are two versions: Toast
(about $100) focuses on CD and DVD burning. A new video tab makes it
easy to create video CDs or DVDs in NTSC or PAL formats.
Unlike Apple's iDVD
be used with third-party external DVD drives. A new plug and burn
feature can take video direct from a digital camcorder and burn it
directly to disc. Also new is ToastAnywhere, which gives users the
ability to work with a burner attached to another computer across the
network. Like the Windows product, there's a module for creating CD
labels and inserts.
The interface is less cluttered than its Windows equivalent. Or users
can avoid the interface entirely, with the ToastIt feature added to
operating system pop-up menus.
(about $200) adds features for music production. Jam lets users fiddle
with audio files changing levels, cross-fading tracks and other
features to produce DJ-style mixes or pro-quality masters.
Along with Jam, Roxio throws in Peak
, a lite version of the well-regarded Bias Peak
two-track recording and editing software.
While Jam users may want to use Peak to edit their music tracks, there
are no direct links between the two programs.
Both Mac and Windows products include software that can be used to
schedule regular incremental backups, something that far too many of us
do far too rarely.