Monday, August 31, 2009

7 Good Reasons Why LightScribe Sucks

It's hard to believe that it is 2009 and people are still excited about LightScribe technology. For those not familiar with LightScribe, it is a technology that allows you to "Burn, Flip, and Burn" your CD and DVD discs. First you record your information, flip the disc over, and then use the same drive to laser etch your artwork directly on to the disc surface.7 Good Reasons Why LightScribe Sucks
In theory this sounds great because you can label your CD and DVD discs without buying another ink cartridge or adhesive label ever again. But after some hands-on testing, I have come up with 7 Good Reasons Why LightScribe Sucks.

7). LightScribe is monochromatic only. This one is a no brainer: you cannot print color photos with a LightScribe drive. A cheap inkjet printer and a package of adhesive CD/DVD labels would produce a far superior result.

6). Another reason why LightScribe sucks is that it is excruciatingly slow. A full disc of artwork can take up to 30 minutes to print! An average inkjet or thermal printer can do a full color disc in about two minutes or less. You do the math.

5). LightScribe cannot print to the center hub. It's true, the center hub of a LightScribe disc contains the information needed to guide the recording laser around the top surface. You'll never get a professional looking CD or DVD disc when you use LightScribe because you'll always see their huge logo branded in the center of the disc.

4). One big downside to LightScribe is that blank CD and DVD discs with LightScribe printable surfaces cost more than regular discs. This may not be a big deal if you buy a small package of 50 discs, but for high volume buyers this can really hit you in the wallet.

3). You need a special drive to record LightScribe artwork. Most desktop and laptop computers and almost all professional recording gear does not come with LightScribe drives. To use this technology, one must upgrade their hardware to something that supports LightScribe.

2). Designing your LightScribe artwork is only slightly easier than building the pyramids of Egypt. Forget about using industry standard design software such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and Quark. You have to use a cumbersome program to create a print file, and then record that to a disc. Good luck getting an engineer to figure this one out, let alone your Grandmother.

1). Finally, LightScribe sucks because the prints just look awful. Even under the best of conditions when using high-resolution artwork and recording at the Best Quality setting, you can still see horizontal bands and gaps in your artwork. It's absolutely not worth the 30 minute wait time for a monochromatic print that looks like a bad photocopy.

LightScribe would have been a cool technology had it had been invented about 10 years ago. Here in 2009 where we have color inkjet printers that print full color artwork directly on CD and DVD discs in just minutes for a few cents per print, LightScribe is simply laughable. It's the equivalent of crossing the sea in a balloon and navigating by compass while the rest of the world uses GPS-equipped jet airplanes. Sure it works, but the alternative is faster, cheaper, more accurate, and all around better at getting the job done. Don't even get me started on Disc t@2 technology!

UPDATE: HP has discontinued support for all LightScribe products in January 2014. The software, burners, and media are no longer supported. I am surprised that it took this long for it to happen!