Toast8 is a powerful CD/DVD burning tool. Here’s an excerpt from an emailed advertisement received today:

Roxio Toast® 8 sets the standard for burning CDs, DVDs, and now, Blu-ray discs on the Mac. Create superior sounding audio CDs with crossfades. Enjoy your TV shows anywhere with exclusive EyeTV burning and TiVoToGo™ transfers to DVD or iPod®. Copy your audio CDs, movies and DVDs.

Yet how many of us really have a need for all these features? Let’s take a quick look at less expensive alternatives to some of Toast8’s features. If you want to put down $70 for the program, then, please, go ahead. You might want to read this MacInTouch review of Toast8 for a detailed explanation of the features.

I’m a bit of a cheapskate when it comes to software, so I’m ALWAYS going to look for the no-cost, least expensive option to get the job done. This usually means finding single-purpose tools to get the job done.

Toast8 Feature: Burn CDs/DVDs on your Mac.
If we’re talking about burning CDs/DVDs on your Mac, you can do that in a variety of ways. My favorite CD burning application is LiquidCD. It allows you to do quite a bit at no cost, except make copies of CDs or DVDs.

LiquidCD…can read most popular formats such as .iso, .dmg and even .toast, cue/bin and .cdi (DiscJuggler). Some .nrg (Nero) files can be opened as well. Feel like duplicating a CD ? burning a VIDEO_TS folder on a video DVD ? In few seconds, and two maybe three steps, you are ready to start the burn. Is there any other free software with so many features ?

To accomplish that, you may have to spend a little money on a CD duplicator program known as Disco ($30). It’s lightweight but covers some of the things LiquidCD can’t handle (although that’s gotten more difficult with recent releases of LiquidCD).

Toast8 Feature: Copy your audio CDs, movies and DVDs.
If you want to make a copy of a DVD movie, use Handbrake to rip the contents of the DVD, then burn it onto a data CD using LiquidCD, or if you want a copy, use iDVD on your Mac to make a DVD out of the MP4 that results from the HandBrake process.

If you’re working with audio, I would suggest ripping the audio tracks of a music CD using Audion. Audion, once a commercial competitor of iTunes, was released as a full-featured program at NO COST. The serial number is provided. That means you can get a fully operational program at no cost with a serial #–which is published on their web site–and then rip audio, use it to play your MP3/OGG files.

I like Audion because, like LiquidCD, it is full-featured program that is easy to use, and close my single-purpose tool requirement…I say close because it does a few other things. Of course, you could use iTunes, but again, I don’t want to go through so many clicks to get the job done. Simple, single-purpose tools to get it done work best for me.

Some folks have suggested Songbird, but it’s development appears to be lagging and you are installing a more comprehensive program than Audion with many more features you may not want. A brief description of Songbird:

Songbird is a desktop media player mashed-up with the Web. Songbird is committed to playing the music you want, from the sites you want, on the devices you want, challenging the conventions of discovery, purchase, consumption and organization of music on the Internet.

As to how to copy bluray or HD DVDs, no suggestions there. I don’t mess with that.

Another approach is to consider using K3b on your GNU/Linux VMWare/Parallels and using that…some relevant articles:

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