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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cool Gear: LightScribe

Throw away the magic markers and sticky paper—LightScribe technology labels CDs and DVDs in a way you've never imagined

The surface of the special LightScribe DVD and CD media is coated with a thin layer of a photoreactive dye. The write mechanism inside a LightScribe DVD or CD writer focuses the laser energy onto the dye coating during the label-writing process. The highly concentrated and precisely focused light beam triggers a chemical change in the photoreactive dye layer, producing the images and text that you created for the label.

This all sounds simple, and it is, though there are a few caveats. LightScribe operates in three modes. The Full mode produces a label that covers the entire surface of the disk with text or graphics, but it can take a very long time to complete the task. Burn times of 20 minutes or longer in Full mode aren't uncommon. LightScribe labels are burned in concentric circles from the center out, the same method DVD burners use to write data. Images with the largest diameters will take the longest to create. Curved text will write faster.

LightScribe media is gold in color, and all images appear as grayscale etched into gold. Full color isn't available yet, although disks with different background colors are expected soon. Because of the predominantly gold color, images with above-average contrast provide more snap and sharpness. Finally, if you think about your label design as a heavily sepia-toned black-and-white print, you'll have the right mindset to create a real masterpiece.

The price of the CDs/DVDs varies, depending on the manufacturer. A free download of the LightScribe software is available on the LightScribe website, www.lightscribe.com.



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