If you’re looking to improve your DVD or CD collection, here are some good reasons to prefer a DVD label printer to a hand-written scribble on a disc.
- You’ll save time.
- You’ll save money – because your time is worth money.
- You’ll feed your sense of style and make a good impression with any discs you might give away.
Choosing the right way to label your disc doesn’t have to be difficult, but there are more options to think about than are immediately apparent.
Why Label Discs?
But why label discs in the first place? What’s wrong with handwritten text using a permanent marker, commonly known as a sharpie?
The major problem is that it is much more difficult to sort through a pile of discs with handwritten labels, which means the “saving you time/saving you money” option rather flies out of the window.
Quite apart from any problems involved in sorting through similar-looking discs, there is obviously no practical way to add any graphics to hand-written labels. And if you’re looking for a higher “sort” speed, we know that the mind is much quicker to pick out an image than some text when you’re trying to find something.
Today collections of many hundreds of discs are not unusual – most people have data backups, music and image compilations, video, game and music backups, sometimes neatly organized, but all too often rather casually stored.
Trying to find the one you want can be difficult; trying to find the one you want quickly can be even more so.
Potential Problems with Marker Pens for DVDs
Handwritten labels can suffer from another problem; quite apart from looks and ease of indexing, there are some very good reasons not to use some types of marker pens on CDs and DVDs.
Cheap discs can be damaged by the solvents in markers or adhesive stickers; (although this is not as much of a problem with a DVD, which is constructed differently to a CD).
If you do go the handwritten route, make sure you buy markers specially developed for use on discs.
And finally, if you happen to be in the business of distributing discs, either to friends and family or to help build your business, your offering won’t look very professional if it’s handwritten.
“Looking Good” Business Benefits of a Professional label.
The professional look is even more important if you’re using disc distribution as a business tool. In this digital age, companies of every size, from one-man operations to big corporations, use DVDs to hold information, to distribute presentations, to show videos. These discs are distributed internally and also to customers and business partners – an environment in which appearance is important.
CD DVD label printers offer a perfect solution. They are affordable, offer high-resolution printing in bright colors, and the more expensive models allow a substantial number of DVDs to be produced quickly and to a high standard.
If discs are one of your business tools, the number you distribute will have a big influence on the sort of printer you might need to buy. There is a big price jump for anyone needing to produce, say, 50 discs a week – a figure that might not be big enough to justify going to a disc-duplicating professional, but enough to put serious strain on the cheaper machines, not to mention the strain on the budget.
In this category, the prices will range from $1000 to about $5000, compared to the $100 or so that is the starting price for a reasonable thermal label printer.
So, assuming you like the idea of saving time, saving money and looking good and you’re in the market for a new or extra printer, here are some ideas to consider.
You’ll need to balance a trade-off between price, quality and probable monthly volume. Remember that even if the printer you like is labeled as a DVD label printer, it will obviously work on CDs as well.
For the low volume user (somewhere around 3 or 4 discs per work session) the product range is not enormous, and prices vary from under $100 to about $400. Most machines will work with PC or Mac, although the choice of label software for Mac might be a little more restricted than for PC.
Print Direct to Disc
Do you fancy full-color graphics and lots of design variation? Then an inkjet unit that will print direct on to the disc is probably the right option – as well as the most expensive one.
Most direct print inkjet printers have a special tray that enables them to print direct on to a disc.
The one exception is the Dymo Discpainter, which uses a special technology and has only one purpose in life – to print on discs.
Unlike the inkjet printers with a tray or caddy (which can be used as normal document printers), the Dymo is a specialized machine that does nothing but print on disc.
Be aware that there are some disadvantages to the inkjet printer +caddy approach (see this article about caddy problems on some inkjet DVD label printers).
Price Climbs Quickly on High-Volume DVD Printers
There is a very sharp price divide in inkjet category. While the Dymo Discpainter retails for less than $300 and some Epson printers for substantially less than that, an automatic unit like the Primera Bravo SE Autoprinter is about $1000, and as you add features and speed the price climbs steeply past the $5000 mark.
If your budget won’t stretch to the more expensive machines and you’re happy with text and limited graphics, you might consider a thermal machine.
There is quite a range of thermal CD DVD label printers available. They work with transfer ribbons and are most suited to labels with text and logos, but minimal or no graphics. The cheaper products print in one color only, the most common being black, red, blue or green.
These do not require specially-treated discs, and will work perfectly well on standard CDs or DVDs.
Lightscribe DVD Burner
If you want text and graphics but can’t afford a completely new printer, then you could consider Lightscribe technology, which requires you to install a Lightscribe-compatible DVD drive in your computer. They aren’t expensive (you could get one for less than $40 at Amazon) but they do need special discs.
Discs are available in a number of colors, but all your printing (actually an etching on the surface of the disc) will be monochrome – no full color graphics. But of course, there is no possibility of the label smearing – which can happen with an inkjet label.
Using your existing printer
If you can’t afford a new machine but you do have an existing inkjet printer, there are still a couple of options available.
You can choose a label pack with special pre-cut circular labels. Make sure you get the special applicator used to position and apply these labels once you have printed them, unless you have great hand and eye co-ordination.
If you’re going to stick on a label there are some facts you need to be aware of:
- Labels can peel off and damage the drive.
- At in high speeds the labels often put the disc off balance and make it unreadable.
- Stick-on labels can damage disc drive bearings.
But they do provide an inexpensive solution and stick-on labels are used by many thousands of people (you only have to check out Amazon here to see the range available), so it is an approach well worth considering if your budget won’t stretch to a new DVD label printer.