Electronic Design

HP 940i LightScribe DVD Writer Handles High Contrast Media

Looking for the hottest optical drive these days? Then high performance DVD writers like Hewlett-Packard's 940i (Fig. 1) are the drives of choice for PCs. Good luck finding BluRay or HD-DVD. It's still too early to get one of these drives for a PC and it is unclear who the winner will be among these emerging technologies. Getting a drive these days is rather difficult. Finding media is even harder.

The HP 940i has impressive specs. Its single-layer write speed is 18x and the double-layer write speed is 8x. The drive supports the new LightScribe V1.2 media that has a higher contrast than previous media. It can handle DVD and CD -/+R/RW media so one size fits all.

LightScribe performance has been improved but the time it takes to write the label is still heavily dependent upon its content. A full graphics label still takes over 20 minutes but basic titles just take one or two.

For those new to LightScribe, it is a labeling technology that uses two-sided media. One side is the usual DVD media. The other is the LightScribe label currently available in a gold tint. LightScribe drives like the 940i can write grayscale images and text on this side of the media. Normally you write the DVD contents, pop out the media, flip it over and put it back in the drive. The LightScribe drive then writes the label.

LightScribe labels have a number of advantages over their printed counterparts. It uses the same drive for labeling and writing the data. The LightScribe label is actually under the top layer of plastic like the data is protecting it. It is also part of the disk so there is no issue of coming off or messing up the rotational characteristics of the media.

LightScribe media is taking a new turn with new colors (Fig. 2). Verbatim has DVD and CD media in five colors. These will be available in mixed color stacks so you can color code your disks or add a little color to an otherwise gold world.

LightScribe media has a premium price which continues to drop as the price of other comparable media falls. There are a number of LightScribe drives available, although this is one of the fastest and from HP, which is also the source of the LightScribe technology.

Of course there is one downside to labeling: you have to come up with something decent to put on the label. Now where did that screen capture go....

Pricing should be around $65 on the open market.

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