The dirt on LightScribe
July 23, 2006 5:05 PM   Subscribe

LightScribe DVD and CD labelling -- do you find it's worth it? Is this another "overpriced consumables" trap? Is it better pricewise than labels?
posted by rolypolyman to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Lightscribe is a nifty technology, but it's somewhat limited in that it can only "etch" out patterns, so don't expect full color labelling.

That, and it adds both cost and time, because the lightscribe pattern takes time to burn. Back when I was looking into it you had to burn it, take out the disc, flip it over, and burn the label. I doubt that has changed.

If it were possible to burn the label and the data all at once, I'd say this technology is worth it.. but the expensively priced media (roughly $1 each for CDs, $1.50+ for DVDs) combined with the extra time it takes to burn the label makes my trusty sharpie feel like the way to go.

It's really up to you though - is the convenience of not having to either use a sharpie or print a label worth the inflated cost of the media and the extra time it takes to burn the lightscribe image?
posted by twiggy at 5:27 PM on July 23, 2006

I used one at work.

The media was expensive, and it took quite a bit longer to burn a DVD/CD...

but it sure did look nice.

We rarely used it for day-to-day things, but more often for special projects.

For home use, I think it is overpriced.
posted by k8t at 5:29 PM on July 23, 2006

My personal opinion was that it was [Look! Shiny things!] a bunch of crap.
posted by baylink at 6:40 PM on July 23, 2006

I'd file it with consumer gewgaws. I've used inkjet printable media before with good results. Full color, too.
posted by evil holiday magic at 7:12 PM on July 23, 2006

I use labels. Burning things takes too long as it is.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 7:52 PM on July 23, 2006

I use LightScribe technology for only one use:

When I shoot an expensive event such as a wedding -and- the client has purchased the negatives... I'll burn the digital negs to a dvd that is LS enabled and make a nice label for it.

Other labeling technologies available to me for small burns like that simple aren't exceptable. Writing on a disc with a sharpie is a terrible idea (sharpies have a solvent based ink) and writing on a disc by hand with a water based CD/DVD safe pen is tacky if not destructive (for a professional disc.) Putting a stick on label is foolish since it is only a matter of time before the labeling adhesive gives way or the label smudges or you find out that the ink you used to print on the label has never been tested for reactivity with the material the CD/DVD is made out of.

So... when someone pays me $$$$$ to shoot a wedding or other special event I like the nice touch of having the label on the disc in a permanent and non-harmful way.

If another technology emerges that lets me cheaply create a permanent and safe label I'll do so. In the mean time $1-$3 a DVD for a quality disc with light scribe technology is nothing when the person pays thousands of dollars for your services.

For day to day home use however... I see it falling more into the novelty end of things. You pay more for something nicer... just like anything else.
posted by JFitzpatrick at 8:26 PM on July 23, 2006

I've had one of these for a while, now. I like it, it definetly different than inkjet labels and sharpie art. Two caveats: It's pricey (1.50 to 3.00 per DVD) and slow (a full image on a DVD takes about 30 minutes), so if you can deal with these issues it might be worth checking out. The hardware price of it should be close to being comparable with regular writers now, too.
posted by richter_x at 8:36 PM on July 23, 2006

It is slow and while the results make the disc look more "pro" it's not worth doing all the time. But for special discs it's prolly worth it . . .

Also, the sticker labels that everyone is so fond of *can* mess up dvd drives (particularly) if they're not applied properly, if they're creased or uneven they will cause drives to wobble and discs to skip.
posted by jeremias at 9:21 PM on July 23, 2006

JFitz: you're suggesting that the current crop of consumer CDprintable compatible inkjets aren't good enough for you?

On what grounds, I'm curious?
posted by baylink at 9:27 PM on July 23, 2006

JFitzpatrick, I don't know if Sharpies are all that bad for discs (even though they may look ugly). I've been using them since 1997 myself without an single disc succumbing to them. The CDR FAQ suggests Sharpie has been using them themselves without detriment, too.
posted by shepd at 7:10 AM on July 24, 2006

baylink: Wedding photography is about class. Classy pictures, classy presentation, classy delivery. Every step of the way you are modeling professionalism and a high quality product that helps justify to the client the expense of having a wedding photographer in the first place. Stick on labels are not classy. Stick on labels always have the potential to peel away, to damage the drive they are in, etc. If you read the fine print that comes with the labels that claim to be guaranteed there is always fine print that says "except in cases of high heat or humidity." which in my opinion rules out a significant portion of the whole country let alone the places that a user might temporarily or permanently put the disc.

With an alternative available (the lightscribe discs) I see no reason to even bother with ink based adhesive labeling.

shepd: It is all well that you have never had a problem... and I myself have discs I've written on with a sharpie from pre-'97 that still can be read. Thats not my point however. Per the link you provided, Sharpie has no formal testing or standard to base their company opinion on other than hersay and good luck. I'm fine accepting that gamble with backups of downloaded software or MP3s... but not with critical archival tasks. I'm not willing to do anything to a disc that might accelerate wear and damage to it when it contains something as important as wedding negatives.
posted by JFitzpatrick at 8:42 AM on July 27, 2006

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