Sleep While You Dupe
Sleep While You Dupe
Frustration rules the day when you have to play the one-at-a-time disc swap game with a project that needs 40 DVDs. You just get back into the groove of your work when the tray pops out again. It reminds one of water torture. The Disc Makers Medley solves that problem.
The Disc Makers Medley comes in a hefty box and strong foam packing. Setup requires about the same skill level as installing a new inkjet printer. The installation requires that steps be done in the correct order. And remember to take the foam packing out of the print head and robotic arm before powering up!
The box contains the main unit, a power supply and cord, your first two ink cartridges (by Lexmark for Disc Makers), a USB cable, a real paper manual, installation CD, a Quickstart sheet for setup and a few blank CDs to get you going. I actually felt excited to see an honest-to-goodness paper manual. No hunting for a file and reading it on-screen.
Heed the warning to make sure the input and output disc baskets are properly aligned. Misalignment risks damage to the unit, probably because of interference with the robotic arm. During testing, I once noticed that a finished disc didn't fall properly. Despite my care, I had bumped the basket, causing it to sit improperly. This part of the Disc Makers Medley begs to be redesigned.
There are two software applications and a printer driver on the installation CD. The main application, DiscDirect, manages the duplication and printing. The program earns praise for being straightforward and fairly intuitive. After setup, I ran ahead of myself and started churning out discs without reading the instructions first - shame on me. Be good and read the manual.
The DiscDirect software offers five modes to work in: Print Only, Data Burn, Audio Burn, Mixed Burn and Disc to Disc. The first four options take source files from your computer and apply them to the disc. The last option reads the disc you place in the Medley drive and creates either a temp file or a permanent ISO file in the directory of your choice. It then uses that file to burn each disc, and another file you selected for the label. The Medley has no hard drive aboard.
The other application, DiscStudio, allows you to create label artwork for your discs. A variety of basic drawing and text tools allows for some artistry. It unfortunately falls short of being a truly robust graphics program. Professional users will likely keep using their advanced photo and illustration apps.
The feature I like the most is the included library of around three hundred background images. One of these images and a bit of text raises any label way above the basic "permanent marker" category.
Feel The Burn
It took around half an hour of setup and installation before the Medley was ready to rock and burn. It performed as advertised. Starting with a 4.2GB promotional video, I did a "Disc to Disc" copy. After selecting the location for the image file and the current location of the artwork file, I hit the GO button.
The tray opened, and a window instructed me to insert my source disc. After the master was read, the robotic arm removed it from the drive, dropping it politely in the middle bay. The arm then picked up a blank disc from the input basket and set it on the drive tray. After the burn it picked up the disc and gave it to the printer. The arm moved a second disc to the drive so that printing and writing could happen simultaneously. Finally, the robotic arm placed the printed disc in the output basket. Slick.
The Disc Makers literature says the Medley duplicates and prints seven full DVDs at 50% print coverage in one hour. This rate corresponds with the results we saw in testing. Furthermore, at 50% coverage, it will cost you 18 cents per disk in ink. That seems to be on par with the competition. The input basket holds 50 discs. That means the Medley runs happily for just over seven hours without human assistance. Sleep while you duplicate. The Medley even gives off an audible alarm when the input basket is empty.
We also tested some music CDs. For the first test, I made a daily-use copy of my Tchaikovsky CD. I waited only a few minutes before listening to The Sleeping Beauty and Piano Concerto No. 1 on a new CD with an elegant water-texture label chosen from the DiscStudio clipart.
The print quality measured up to common inkjet printer performance. The text looked sharp. The colors appeared particularly vibrant on the Hydroshield DVDs with a glossy, water-resistant finish.
Fill Your Need?
A mid-level hobbyist who duplicates just a handful of DVDs each month may decide that the investment required for the Medley is unwarranted. If so, stick with a manual system, or consider one of the more basic automatic duplicators out there.
On the other hand, the producer who needs regular runs of 300 DVDs may find that seven discs an hour is a bit slow. For an event videographer or an advanced hobbyist who often needs 30 or 50 copies of a program, this machine saves a lot of monotonous work.
Disc Makers also deserves credit for promising that technical support will be available as long as you own the Medley. I find that as refreshing as the paper manual - call me old-school. They also promote a program called their "Perfect Fit Guarantee." If within 30 days you decide the Medley isn't the right machine for your needs, simply return it for a credit toward another one of their products.
Finally, my last wish is that Medley was just a bit smaller. Measuring around 19 inches wide by 18 inches deep, it takes up quite a bit of room on the desk. Surely trimming a bit off the edges wouldn't sacrifice any of the Medley's functionality.
Optical Drive: 18x DVDR/48x CD-R/6x DVDR DL drive
Printer: 4-color, 4800dpi inkjet printer
Write Speeds: DVD-R (18x), DVD+R (18x), DVD-R DL (6x) DVD+R9 (DL) (6x), CD-R (48x)
Throughput: Full CD with 50% ink coverage: 20 per hour; Full DVD with 50% ink coverage: 7 per hour
System Requirements: Pentium 4 processor, 60GB 7200 RPM hard drive, 512MB RAM, USB 2.0, Windows XP Pro, 20GB of free hard drive disc space
Input Capacity: 50 discs
Warranty: One-year parts and labor
- Simple operation
- Intuitive software
- Hands-free duplication & printing
- Relatively large footprint
- Disc baskets can become dislodged
The Medley allows users to easily duplicate and print up to 50 DVDs or CDs automatically and at a competitive price.
Greg Robinson is the owner of an independent production company.
7905 North Route 130
Pennsauken, NJ 08110