Friday, May 12, 2006

05/12/06: What is LightScribe?

What is LightScribe?

LightScribe is a technology that allows you to laser etch labels directly onto CD's and DVD's without using paper-based adhesive labels. Photographers tend to burn LOTS of discs -- so I wanted to answer some questions and relate some of my experiences using LightScribe.

Why would someone want to use LightScribe?

Adhesive disc labels can start to peel away and potentially cause problems with disc players. Also, data can be corrupted by labels that peel or are peeled off a disc (never try to remove an adhesive label -- the adhesive can remove the top layer of lacquer on the disc, and possibly the reflective layer beneath it as well, which will ruin your disc). Using a "Sharpie" marker to label a disc may also potentially render the disc unusable if the marker in any way scratches the surface of the disc.

What do I need to use LightScribe?

You will need 3 things to use LightScribe to label discs:
  1. A LightScribe enabled disc burner
  2. LightScribe media (currently in CD-R, DVD+R, DVD-R)
  3. Software for creating disc labels (usually comes with the LS enabled burner, but you can also download a free program from called SureThing 4SE). The latest versions of disc burning software from Nero, Roxio, and others, have LightScribe capabilities.
Expect to pay about a 20% premium for a LightScribe burner and around $1 per disc for LightScribe media (though this cost will likely come down as LS media becomes more widely used).

What else should I know about LightScribe?

There are three important things, in my opinion, to be aware of when using LightScribe to label your discs:

  1. LightScribe is currently only designed for grayscale labeling -- not color.
  2. To label your disc, you have to load it UPSIDE DOWN!! (Yes, the first time I tried LS, I failed to read the instruction to load the media upside down and I couldn't figure out why I was getting "dirty disc" errors!)
  3. LightScribe labeling is time consuming. For full text and images on a LS disc, expect the print process to take at least 20 minutes (or longer, depending on your system).

Questions or comments can be sent to:

Have a great weekend! --Dan


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