Buy a CD-R/RW drive for your Mac nowadays, and an older version of Roxio Toast probably comes free with it. So why should you pony up $89 for version 5.0 of this popular CD-burning software? Count the reasons: a shiny new interface, background disc burning so that you can do other work simultaneously, DVD burning, and burning MP3s to CDs--to name a few. In fact, Toast 5.0 fills just about every CD- or DVD-recording need.Buy a CD-R/RW drive for your Mac nowadays, and an older version of Roxio Toast probably comes free with it. So why should you pony up $89 for version 5.0 of this popular CD-burning software? Count the reasons: a shiny new interface, background disc burning so that you can do other work simultaneously, DVD burning, and burning MP3s to CDs--to name a few. In fact, Toast 5.0 fills just about every CD- or DVD-recording need.
The basics at your fingertips
Toast makes it a cinch to dive right into the three most popular types of recording: storing data, burning music CDs from your audio library, and copying CDs. Toast's start screen labels each of these three functions with big buttons. A fourth button, called Other, lets you create nearly any other kind of recording, including MP3 discs that you can play on your portable player, Mac volumes, DVDs recorded from a DVD player or movie editing app, digital slide shows, or disc images--snapshots of all the data on your drive.
To create data or music discs, simply drag your data or music files from the hard drive into the main Toaster window. There, rearrange the file order and click Preview to listen to your music. Next, insert a disc into your drive and press the Record button. (Copying discs is just as easy: insert the target and destination discs and press Record.)
As of this writing, Roxio hadn't yet released a final upgrade for OS X users. A preview release is available from the Roxio site for Toast owners, but it isn't fully featured. (Roxio plans to release an OS X version but has no official timeline.)
This CD burner performs like a dream, thanks to some cool helper tools. The app's Check Speed tool (in the Tools/Utility menu) tests tracks on music CDs to help you identify the fastest available recording speed. Check Speed is especially useful because if your CD recorder runs faster than your player, it might corrupt your music.
Not just for CDs anymore
Toast 5.0 handles specialized tasks like a pro, too. It creates hybrid discs, which you can play on both PCs and Macs, and incremental backups of data to disc. (As for the competition, Click'N Burn), allows for incremental saves, but few other programs do.) Toast also lets you burn MP3 to CDs for portable players and create MP3 discs as well as enhanced music CDs, which combine music tracks with graphics that you can view while your music plays.
What's more, Toast 5.0 supports DVD mastering, which no other application in this roundup does. It also creates video CDs that will play on computers or on many DVD players.
But here's the icing on the cake: Toast 5.0 comes with Magic Mouse Discus, a utility that helps you design and print labels, jewel case covers, and folding CD booklets. Magic Mouse can import track names from Toast, which puts it above the other label makers in this roundup. And the list of Toast's features goes on, including CD Spin Doctor, which imports and records music from analog sources such as vinyl albums and tapes; iView, an image-viewing and cataloging tool for organizing your files; and MVP, a slick-looking MP3 player. Add in more than 100MB of music and image files for your listening and viewing pleasure, and you have a big bundle of extra goodies. Our only quibble is a minor one: while the included images are especially attractive, they take up a hefty 100MB of disc space.
Toast has an awesome feature set. It offers everything you need to burn CDs and DVDs and is well worth the price.