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Disc Makers Forte DVD Duplicator Review

Disc Makers Forte DVD Duplicator Review

A simple but remarkably useful duplicator that is ready for practically any short run.

Disc Makers Forte

Sometimes, it's the simple things that we find most comforting. We love times when we find little things we never really noticed before that make us realize just what we have been missing. The Disc Makers Forte, in an odd way, is a duplicator that's just different enough that it made us step back and think "how different!" at first glance, but that we felt quite comfortable with in short order.

The Forte's design is quite different compared to a lot of duplicators. The first time we saw the spec sheet for the Forte, we had some blank stares on our faces. "A single-drive robotic duplicator? Why? That doesn't make sense..." The unique part of this duplicator, though, is a feature called multiple master duplication. It goes like this: put as many blanks as you need made of a particular master disc, put that master disc on top, then repeat for as many master discs as you need duplicated. Say, for example, that you make hobby videos. Need 5 copies of Rocks I Have Collected, 7 copies of MIG Welding for Fun and Profit and 3 copies of Leatherworking for Serious Hobbyists? No problem. Make an appropriate stack in the input bin (of up to 25 discs), hit the button and walk away. When everything's done, everything will be on the output bin in the opposite order in which you placed it (so the newly-minted copies will be sitting on top of their respective master discs).

Alternately, you can copy your sources to the Forte's hard drive, where you can call them up as sources for duplication jobs at a second's notice, for as many copies as you need of said project.

How It Does It

When you unpack the Forte, you will notice how elegantly simple the robotics are. There's an industrial-strength arm that only goes up and down to pick and drop discs. The input and output bins hide within the unit for shipping and for those times when you're not duplicating discs. You pull out the tray assembly until you hear a click (and if you don't hear a click, the duplicator will complain). We were initially a bit frustrated that the documentation didn't illustrate which part of the tray was the input bin and which was the output bin, but a discussion of the swing gate made it clear how the system works. The input bin is closest to the unit, from where the duplicator picks either master discs or blank discs. The output tray is the bin further from the duplicator, where the Forte drops the masters or freshly-burned duplicates. You must flip the swing gate into its upright position, where it acts as the traffic cop: it flips out of the way when something is picked from the input bin and acts as a chute for anything being dropped onto the output bin. In testing, the robotic arm performed very well, and our hunch about the bin configuration turned out to be spot-on.

Our Forte shipped with a Hitachi 160GB hard drive and a Pioneer DVD burner. The source and destination discs can be single- or dual-layer. Or CDs instead of DVDs. It doesn't matter too much. No Blu-ray Discs yet, though, but it's probably only a matter of time before there's a version that can handle them.

Adding to the simplicity of the Forte is that it only duplicates discs. You can't attach it to a computer - but you won't need to. It doesn't have a printer - besides, that would just add complexity and expense.

All this comes for a price that is really quite reasonable for all that the Forte does, especially considering that you free up your computer for editing and that you won't have to handle every disc you want to duplicate while the job is in progress.

TECH SPECS

Optical Drive: 20x DVD+/-R, 40x CD-R
Hard Drive: 160 GB
Input/Output Capacity: 25 discs
Throughput: 7 DVDs/hour, 14 CDs/hour
Media: Burns all media brands, CD-Compatibility R, DVD-R, and DVD-DL
Control Interface: LCD controller with simple one touch operation
Dimensions: 8.875" x 8.5" x 12.5" (collapsed)
Weight: 25 lbs.

Strengths

  • Terrific value
  • Versatile
  • Easy to use once you get used to it

Weaknesses

  • Input/output bin tray assembly not marked or documented clearly
  • Full manual on CD only

SUMMARY

A simple but remarkably useful duplicator that is ready for practically any short run.

Charles Fulton is Videomaker's associate editor.

Disc Makers
7905 N. Route 130
Pennsauken, NJ 08110
www.discmakers.com
$499

Tags:  September 2008
Charles
Fulton
Mon, 09/01/2008 - 12:00am