Product Review: Page (1) of 1 - 09/29/03 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at MyDmn.com).print page facebook

First Look: Discmakers ElitePro2

By John Virata
With CD and DVD drives becoming standard features on today's home and business PCs, the practice of creating a video and transferring it to video tape for viewing in the corporate boardroom is nearing the end of its useful life. Today, this form of communicating ideas is being supplanted by CD and DVD creation--with the content being played on the computer's CD or DVD drive, as well as on standalone DVD players. With today's video creation and presentation software becoming easier to use and navigate and more robust with features, communicating via the shiny CD and DVD is becoming more commonplace. Many issues regarding the creation of digital media for communicating messages have been resolved and others are just now being addressed, albeit at much cheaper prices than just a year ago.
The ElitePro2 can duplicate up to 8 DVD-Rs per hour

For the AV jockey or event videographer who needs to duplicate CDs or DVDs in smaller runs than that justified by a dedicated service bureau, there are solutions available to make that task easier. One such solution comes from a company called Discmakers, which offers several turnkey systems that enable you to do just that; duplicate a fair amount of CDs/DVDs, create labels and print them directly onto the media, and get it ready for packaging, all in a form factor that let's you just set all the parameters specific to the job, and let it run its course. There can be many uses for the system, from duplicating short run promo DVDs for the employee picnic, to corporate annual reports and sales strategy presentations, to burning a demo CD of the company band. Within this first look, we take a look at the Elite Pro2, which the company says can duplicate up to 30 CD-Rs or 8 DVD-Rs per hour.


The System
The Elite Pro2 features a CPU running Windows XP, an Autograph IV full-color 1200dpi inkjet printer for printing on inkjet compatible media, a 15-inch CRT display, keyboard, mouse, two Pioneer A05 DVD-R/RW drives, an input bin that can hold 125 discs, Padus DiscJuggler software, and the coolest feature of the entire setup-- a robotic arm that grabs your blank disc, places it into the CD/DVD burner for duplicating and then either onto a spindle when the job is complete, or into the printer for printing directly on the disc (provided you use inkjet printable media).
Applications included with the Discmakers unit include the DiscJuggler 4.0 Professional for duplicating CDs and DVDs; Discus LE, which enables you to create CD/DVD labels as well as CD/DVD cover designs and folding booklets; and SureThing CD Labeler First Edition, a CD/DVD labeler designed specifically for the Primera printer.
The DiscJuggler Interface

Most of the action takes place in the DiscJuggler application. DiscJuggler enables you to create new CDs and DVDs, Create MP3, WMAs, WAVs, and CD compilations, copy CDs and DVDs from the same burner, Copy CDs/DVDs on the fly, Create CD/DVD images, burn CD/DVD images, and Erase CDs/DVDs. The media spindle holds around 100 CDs/DVD, and you can specify DiscJuggler to create at least that many. The system is set up to grab a disc from the input spindle, place them into one of two available burners (you can burn up to two at a time using both burners), and let the machine take care of the rest. When the disc is complete, the system puts that disc on the completed spindle. The system can also sense if a disc is defective or has already been burned, and if this happens, the system will remove that disc from the burner and place it onto a spindle that houses unwritable or defective discs. It is really very nifty how the system detects where the media needs to be.

When you launch DiscJuggler, a window opens with three tabs; Source and Destination, Advanced, and Autoloader. Source and Destination details all the information regarding your session. It shows which drive is the source, which drive is the destination, as well as the actions that are available to you before your burning session begins.
The Action pulldown

The Action pulldown offers you a range of choices for you to choose from, including Write; write and verify; Test; Test and if OK, write; Test and if OK, write, then verify; Write and Print, Write, verify, then print; and Test and if OK Write, then Print; and Test and if OK Write, then verify and Print. These actions are designed to ensure that you have a successful burning session.

The Middle section of the Destination Tab is where you start the burn session. You also can monitor how the session is going, how many successful copies are made, if there are any rejections, as well as the average speed in which the burning takes place. Also noted here is the time the session takes place. the lower section of the Destination Tab is where the task log is kept. The system keeps a log of every action that takes place with the system.
The Autoloader pulldown

Autoloader is where you determine if you want to have the system print a label onto the media before burning, stop the task after a certain number of rejects, Cycle only, and Skip clean-up procedure.

Discus is the application that enables you to create CD Labels, Jewel Case (Base and lid), and the folding booklet inside the CD. You can also create labels for miniCDs (including mini Case Lid and mini booklet, as well as business card CDs. Discus enables you to do this in several languages, including, English, French, Nederlands, Dansk, Suomi, Japanese Kanji, German, Italian, Norsk, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Portugese, Svenska, and Turkish (Turkce)
Discus enables you to create labels that can be printed directly on the CD

Discus opens with a blank canvas to which you create your art. You can choose from several of the prebuilt canvases that ship with the application, or you can create your own using the artwork of your choice. The application enables you to custom tweak all aspects of the content that will appear on your CD, from the image displayed to the size of the font. Tools are provided to paint your own styles that will appear on the label, to adding objects such as ovals and polygons, to tweaking all aspects of the text. For example, you can adjust the text's line spacing, the text size, the letter spacing, the radius, and the angle of the text.

Also shipping with the ElitePro 2 is Sure Thing CD Labeler Primera Edition, which enables you to create labels for your CD/DVD projects, It comes with a collection of clipart, backgrounds, and Text Effects such as squeeze and balloon. You can also create your own text and bring in your own photos and artwork as well.

First Impressions:

The Elite Pro2 delivers all what it claims to deliver. The Elite Pro2 is an outstanding solution for businesses that need to generate short run jobs on CD/DVD. Set up of the system involves installing the robotic arm and doing a test run to ensure functionality. The system can also be setup on a network as well. All the software comes pre-installed on the system, and the footprint of the system is pretty compact for what the machine can do. The entire solution enables you to create the complete package; burn CD/DVDs, create jacket artwork, jewel case artwork, and, provided you are using inkjet printable media, create and print artwork on the discs as well. In terms of performance, we were able to duplicate 16 3.2GB DVDs, complete with printed media, burning up to two discs at a time, in just under five hours.

One gripe about the system is the price of consumables. A single inkjet cartridge for the printer is $49, which seems a bit high given the usurious costs the traditional inkjet manufacturers charge for their cartridges. It seems that the company could lower the cost just abit because after all, the cartridges are specific to the printer on the system. 2X Printable DVD-R pricing ranges from $2.29 each for a 50 pack, to $1.59 for a pack of 2000 discs. 4X DVD-Rs are slightly higher, as are the better quality discs. CD-R pricing ranges from $0.29 for a 100 pack, to $0.26 for 3000+ discs. Prices are also higher for the better quality discs. The company's realtime answering system recommends that you purchase your media from them. On the upside, the company offers a one year discount on media when ordered in 100 packs.

It comes with an outstanding three-year warranty on the robotics, a one year warranty on drives, and free lifetime technical support. The Disc Makers ElitePro2 is priced starting at $5,290, with DVD±R for $6,090. Leasing is also available as an option.



John B. Virata is executive producer at Digital Media Net and has been covering the digital media markets for more than 10 years. He is a regular foot and his favorite surfspot is Ala Moana Bowls. You can reach him at jvirata@digitalmedianet.com

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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at jvirata@digitalmedianet.com
Related Keywords:CD duplication, DVD duplication, DVD authoring, DVD duplication, Elite Pro, Disc Makers

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