March 2002 | Just when you thought Macworld was all about Apple, with all eyes on Steve Jobs and all i's on pre-installed DVD or tuned to MP3s, it spawns a spate of aftermarket CD/DVD recording-centric announcements that seem unusually out of step with Apple's army of different-thinkers today. Nothing wrong with that. The Mac world, and Macworld in particular, is only a de facto cult of personality. Though the platform is anything but dominant in today's personal computing world, it's certainly in wide enough use to accommodate a range of applications and user interests. And with the growing adoption of FireWire—another Apple interest, incidentally—the peripheral possibilities seem better than ever for Mac users. As do the high-end hobbyist and professional opportunities for CD-R and DVD-R/-RW/+RW.
The biggest CD-R announcement at Macworld involved Roxio (www.roxio.com), the biggest player (by far) in the Mac CD-R software scene. In a move long-anticipated by many (and not just because the names go so well together), Roxio introduced Toast with Jam, a new CD-R creation bundle that combines the leading all-purpose Mac premastering tool with the longtime tool-of-choice for Mac-based CD-Audio pros and aficionados. The new Toast with Jam, shipping in the U.S. in March 2002 with worldwide versions to follow, is built for Mac OS X and is designed to support Mac OS 9 users. Toast with Jam features the power of Toast 5 Titanium, enabling users to burn photo, video, music and data to CD and DVD, and includes the pro audio features of the new Jam 5 that will allow users to edit, arrange, and burn a gold master CD of their recorded music. For a suggested retail price of $199, customers who purchase Toast with Jam receive Toast 5 Titanium, the new Jam 5 and an updated version of Peak LE VST sound editing software from BIAS. When the consolidated product becomes available, all registered users of Toast software will be eligible to upgrade to Toast with Jam at a significantly discounted price. Toast with Jam includes a full version of Peak LE VST sound editing software from BIAS, which includes multiple VST plug-ins to customize arrangements with special audio effects, as well as a wealth of new and improved features. In Jam 5, music lovers will find an updated, more flexible cross-fade tool using a graphical waveform interface, a dithering feature that corrects for distortion, which can occur during audio file conversion, and new support for audio files with resolutions up to 24 bits. A robust online help system is new to the product as well.
While Toast remains the first option for most Mac CD-R users, it faces increasing competition, with such leading providers of Windows CD-R tools as Nero and NTI offering Mac-platform products. Charismac Engineering (www.charismac.com), best known for its Mac OS CD-R-based backup offerings, debuted the latest iteration of Discribe 5.0 at Macworld Expo, adding a host of features new to the longstanding Mac CD recording tool, such DVD mastering and full native Macintosh OS X support. Charismac has also lowered the suggested retail price of the new version from $99.95 to $69.95, and made the product available as a $29.96 upgrade for registered earlier-iteration Discribe users. (Purchasers of 4.5 in the 60-day period preceding the release of v5.0 receive Discribe 5 for free.) Discribe boasts support for over 250 CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, and DVD+RW mechanisms, and supports the creation of CDs in most all popular formats including CD Extra, Hybrid, ISO-9660 and both track-at-once and disc-at-once audio. Discribe supports ATAPI, SCSI, FireWire (1394), USB recorders. Discribe fully supports the mastering of MP3 files to CD and includes AudioScribe, a direct-to-disc recording utility that lets you record vinyl, voice, or tape to hard disk in AIFF format. These files can then be mastered to CD using Discribe. Discribe 5.0 also offers improved Video CD support as well as seamless interoperability with Apple's Disc Burner and iTunes. Charismac is offering a fully functional demo copy of Discribe 5.0 that limits users to five burns, available via the Charismac Web site.
QPS, Inc. (www.qps-inc.com), a writable CD/DVD drive VAR that has vigorously pursued the Mac market with USB and FireWire offerings, announced two writable DVD products targeted for the Mac market at Macworld 2001, the FireWire Que! DVDBurner+RW and the Que! Dupe Towers. The Que! DVDBurner+RW, based on the Sony/Ricoh/HP DVD+RW format, features new "lossless linking," an accurate writing technology that reduces errors and retains more usable disc space than ever before. It provides both real-time video recording for making DVD movies and true random data recording for backup jobs and for archiving data and images. A new quick-formatting feature allows users to write discs immediately and format in the background. The included MPEG-2 encoding software allows users to create DVD-Video-compatible discs. The external Que! DVDBurner+ºRW is housed in a sleek, protective plastic case. MSRP is $649.
QPS also announced two new standalone DVD duplication systems, the 2-bay and 5-bay Que! DVD Dupe Towers. An LCD display quickly leads users through the duplication modes, which include simple copy, copy and compare, simulation, verify master, audio extraction, and other functions. The display also shows copy status and allows users to control copy speeds. The 2-bay Que! DVD Dupe Tower features two combo DVD-R/RW and CD-R/RW drives (Pioneer's A03), plus an internal hard drive. The 5-bay Que! Dupe Tower features a DVD-ROM, four writable drives (either Pioneer's A03 or Panasonic's RAM/R Burner), and an internal hard drive, combining to offer versatile authoring and storage to DVD-R/RW and DVD-RAM media. MSRP for the 2-bay Dupe Tower is $1,499; MSRP for the 5-bay Dupe Tower is $4,999. Both Towers are currently shipping.