In the midst of our enduring pursuit for ever-larger storage capacity, the calm optical storage scene has been given a jolt by recent announcements of a new labeling technology called LightScribe. Developed and patented by Hewlett-Packard (HP), this innovative approach to disc inscribing first made its debut appearance sometime back in 2003. The idea behind this technology is simple yet brilliant. Instead of relying on tailored adhesive paper labels that are highly prone to peeling, fading and where colors and text could get smudgy when wet, LightScribe aims to create permanent and professional looking labels that are very much free of all the drawbacks faced by its stick-on counterparts. Furthermore, alignment problems that occur during pasting and printing would also be eliminated.
As impressive and exciting LightScribe was upon its introduction, the technology was not entirely the first of its kind to set in motion the idea of etching personalized labels onto burnt discs. In fact, Yamaha Electronics was the first to pioneer laser labeling for the general public through its DiscT@2, which at application level, is fundamentally similar to the mechanics of HP's LightScribe. Both methods use laser instead of ink, are practically free of alignment issues and have no known adverse effects on the spin characteristic of media that could result from peeling - a recognized wear and tear weakness of adhesive labels.
The BenQ DW1625, a LightScribe-enabled DVD writer.
Theoretically at least, laser labeling seemed destined to be an instant hit with homeowners and small media production houses. Sadly, that didn't take place as hoped and the buzz surrounding the inkless labeling technology soon muted down
until now. Of all the probable explanations, the most compelling one would have to be the lethargic pace of adoption by media manufacturers. As with all new breakthroughs of optical storage, speedy mass acceptance is directly influenced by media availability and this was to be a major hiccup to the rise of HP's LightScribe technology. To understand this, we'll need to delve a little deeper into the technicalities of LightScribe and to help us demonstrate the new labeling technique is BenQ's DW1625, one of the first LightScribe drives to hit the retail channel and the first to make its way into our lab.