DiscPainter spiffs up your CDs

DiscPainter lets you turn plain CDs into vibrant works of art

 

GCN

 

The DiscPainter can take normal data CDs and label them accurately with agency logos, photos or even some pretty fancy designs.

GCN

[IMGCAP(1)]It's an MP3 kind of world these days, but sometimes you still need to burn CDs. You might want to make a training CD for your employees, or you might want to make a CD version of what we called, back in the day, a mix tape ' a compilation of favorite songs for your friends.

Unfortunately, it's easy to accumulate slippery stacks of silver discs that all look the same. You can mark them with Sharpie pens, but that looks so homemade. Or you could put adhesive labels on them, printed with your logo or other information, but they often peel off.

If you are serious about making your CDs and DVDs snappy and professional-looking, you ought to look into DYMO's DiscPainter.
It comes in an oddly shaped, split-level device with the spinning disc-painting apparatus at one end and the ink cartridge in the larger end. It was easy to assemble using a quick-start guide that clearly explained how to insert the ink cartridge and plug the device into the USB connection.

We installed the software on our Hewlett-Packard Pavilion zd7000 laptop PC, which has a 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 processor and 512M of RAM and runs Microsoft Windows XP. The software put a disc-shaped icon on our desktop. When we clicked on it, it opened up a world of art we could paint onto our CDs and DVDs.

DiscPainter offers hundreds of images to decorate your CDs, including maps, stained-glass effects, cityscapes, underwater scenes and spooky trees. Some of them had a 1970s vibe, like the sort of airbrushed sunset and unicorn designs people used to paint on the sides of their vans. Not my first choice. But DiscPainter also lets you import photos and write text in every conceivable font. Now you're talking.

First, it shows you a mockup of your design. You add all the text, images and colors you want, and you can preview how it will look. You can wrap text around the curved edges of the disc, have it print in the middle or both. Adding your agency's logo is a snap and would look professional on any public handout. Or you could put a photo of someone, which might be tempting for political campaigns.

When you've set up your design the way you want it, you put a disc into the round DiscPainter tray, printable side up. DiscPainter comes with three blank discs to get you started. You hit print, and the disc starts spinning. As it spins, ink is loaded onto the disc, and as if by magic, your design comes to life in about two minutes. A status bar appears on your computer screen showing the progress of the printing process.

You can specify the quality of the printing, from 600 dpi to 1,200 dpi. I used medium quality to make a CD decorated with an image of my old orange cat Reilly, and the results were amazingly good. GCN cartoonist Michael Bechetti used Adobe PhotoShop to incorporate a photo of Reilly into Andrew Wyeth's painting 'Christina's World,' with Reilly in the role of Christina. The gold and amber tones came out even more true to the original than the image looks on most computer screens.

I tried the high-quality setting on a black-and-white photo of my mom from World War II to decorate a CD of her favorite tunes. The results looked more like a CD bought from Amazon than something made in two minutes. The software also lets you import song titles from iTunes directly onto the CD.

You can save your designs and export them as JPEG, BMP, PICT, PhotoShop or TIFF files. The printing left a smooth, hardy finish, although the user guide said not to touch the image immediately after printing. Still, the ink was solid enough that you could run your fingers over it or handle it normally after about a minute, and there is no way anybody could tell that you printed the label yourself. Some of the designs we made looked far better than anything you will find in stores.

The ink cartridges are a bit pricey, which is not unexpected considering the quality of the output. I found replacement cartridges online that ranged from $50 to $59. One cartridge will print about 100 disks, depending on how much ink your designs use.

DiscPainter isn't for mass production of CDs by a major record label, but it's great for the part-time (compact) disc jockey, anybody who would like to organize their CDs and DVDs better, or agencies that want to make a good impression with a public handout or press CD.

DYMO, 800- 426-7827, www.dymo.com


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