Toast 15 is the latest version of the DVD/Blu-Ray burning software for the Mac. The Pro version includes the Blu-Ray HD authoring plug-in and a plethora of extra software, including Toast Audio Assistant, Live Screen Capture, MyDVD, Toast Slice, Roxio Secure Burn for Mac, DiskCatalogMaker RE, Corel AfterShot 3, Painter Essentials 5, FotoMagico 5 RE, HDR Express 3 and MyDVD Pro themes. Highlights in this bundle are Roxio Secure Burn, FotoMagico and Corel Aftershot. The main app, however, has remained Toast itself.
When Roxio updated Toast to version 11, it expanded the app’s usability beyond optical media burning. With version 15, the company — now under the care of Corel — expanded the app’s features further into the realm of security and non-optical media. Except for Toast itself, I found Roxio Secure Burn the most useful addition to the core suite. Roxio Secure Burn for Mac lets you create encrypted media, including USB sticks, with an incredibly simple interface.
The one thing I missed in the Mac version was a clear explanation of the encryption standards used. I found out it’s the robust AES encryption algorithm combined with a SHA256 hash system. A cryptographic hash is like a signature for a text or a data file. The SHA-256 algorithm generates an almost-unique, fixed size 256-bit (32-byte) hash. AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) is a specification for the encryption of electronic data. It is a subset of the Rijndael cipher developed by two Flemish cryptographers, Johan Daemen and Vincent Rijmen, who submitted a proposal to NIST during the AES selection process in 2010 1.
The way Roxio Secure Burn works is simply brilliant. You add files to a CD, DVD or USB memory device and encrypt the media using Roxio Secure Burn. Once the process has finished, your files are encrypted. On the media you’ll find your files and two applications; One that works on a Windows system and the other that runs on a Mac. You can’t decrypt the files without one of these apps and your key.
Toast itself is still the only CD/DVD/Blu-Ray burning app you’ll ever need on the Mac. Despite macOS including the ability to burn optical media from the Desktop, Toast has more features, reads/writes Blu-Ray discs and is more robust, provided you have a working burner and optical media the burner “likes”.
Toast 15 instantly recognised a brand new LG Blu-Ray burner and had no trouble burning Verbatim Blu-Ray, DVD and CD discs that are about 8 years old. The LG burner also toasted M-Discs with no problems at all. Kodak DVDs were a different matter, though. The discs were rejected by both macOS and Toast — and by both burners, as well as the Superdrive in my older Mac Mini.
Compared to older versions of Toast, version 15 is better at accelerating to the fastest speed your burner/disc combination can handle. Leaving the burning options at the “Best” setting ensures the disc truly gets written at the highest possible speed.
The only grudge I have is that Toast 15 still has the same interface it had ten years ago. The app itself is the fastest way to burn any optical disc.
Roxio’s authoring suite
Toast myDVD, Toast Audio Assistant and Toast Slice are apps that want to make it simple for you to create movie discs. Toast Audio Assistant is a sound recording app. It installs a sound driver that made my system crash several times.
The Toast myDVD app isn’t bad for its target audience, but it suffers from its ageing interface. It’s very simple to use, though. I wanted to create a Blu-Ray disc with some movies on it. I chose to go with Toast myDVD’s “Magic mode”. In this mode, your intervention is limited to dragging MP4 movies to the window and selecting a menu theme of your choosing. Click the Burn button or the “Save to ISO image” icon and you’re set. I clicked the Burn button and it took over half an hour to burn a disc with 5GB of movie material on it.
For a long while, it looked as if Toast myDVD wasn’t actually burning anything at all as the LG didn’t seem to do anything. But the actual burning time was something like five minutes. The resulting Blu-Ray disc turned out to be properly burned, with the menus even featuring a music clip that cannot be changed to something else as far as I could figure out.
Other extra apps with Toast 15 Pro
Live Screen Capture didn’t work on my system. With it, you should be able to record your screen, system audio and voiceover. If you are serious about this, however, it’s better to go with one of the more robust and dedicated offerings like Telestream’s ScreenFlow.
Toast 15 Pro has extras beyond the apps I covered earlier. In fact, it has over $250 worth of extras. To start with, there are well over 100 templates for Toast MyDVD. Then there’s Blu-ray Disc authoring, which I already mentioned. For people who like to use Toast to burn photo DVDs or Blu-Ray discs, Roxio included Corel Painter Essentials. This is a slimmed down version of Painter. Painter Essentials lets you “paint” photos.
Corel AfterShot 3 is a RAW photo management and editing app. It’s a bit like Adobe Lightroom, but without the subscription fee. I reviewed Aftershot a couple of years ago when it was first released, and it’s a great piece of software. Die-hard Lightroom users will disagree.
FotoMagico 5 RE lets you create high-definition slideshows from your photos. FotoMagico is nothing less than the industry-standard in its market. Finally, there’s HDR Express 3, a high dynamic range photo editing app that I reviewed a couple of years ago as well. I found it a decent HDR app, but it did lack a few features that you’ll find in competing products. It certainly is no match for Aurora HDR, but then again, few HDR apps are.
Do you still need Toast? Do you still need to burn DVDs, Blu-Rays or CDs even? With so many cloud storage services available, what’s the use of burning data onto optical media stored locally? One reason could be that you care about keeping all rights to your images, movies and other data with the party to whom these belong — you, the creator. And look at large data-dependent companies: they still use local optical storage because optical discs are insensitive to magnetic fields, while the new M-Disc is virtually indestructible.
In addition, cloud storage service providers might disappear overnight (think bankruptcy), and they may change their T&C’s as they might the service price whenever they like. Nothing of the kind will interfere with your local data backup plans.
As for optical media: I can still perfectly read my own 16 years old Verbatim Archival Grade discs that I burned back then. Those aren’t even M-Discs, but I did make sure they were stored out of sunlight and not too hot (although they have lived through scorching hot summer times).
So, yes I think Toast will be with us for quite some time. At the very least, I hope so. Toast 15 Pro costs about €135.