In the current market for external DVD burners, drive manufacturers need to find ways to stand out from the crowd. LaCie has figured out one way: be the first to include the latest drive technologies. After being first out of the gate with Mac support for dual-layer DVD burners, and earning the Editor’s Choice in our recent roundup of those drives ( April 2005 ), LaCie is now the first to offer the new LightScribe labeling technology to Mac users.
LightScribe, invented by HP and then spun off, uses a special laser built into your drive to draw images and text onto a thin dye-based coating on the non-data side of a LightScribe disc. Just insert a LightScribe disc, data side up, into the drive and use the included LaCie LightScribe Labeler software to create your own custom, monochrome labels etched onto the surface of the disc. The drive senses if the disc is inserted properly; it won’t attempt to draw on the data side of the disc and it won’t attempt to draw on non-LightScribe media. Since LightScribe requires specific hardware, the technology has to be built into the drives by the manufacturer—upgrades to existing models are not available. LaCie is selling LightScribe capable 8x +R DVD media for about $2.50 a disc. (Comparable inkjet printable media is available for between 50 cents and $1.00 per disc.) You can also use the drive to burn non-LightScribe discs.
The technology is cool, but there is a tradeoff: the new drive is considerably slower than the winner of the aforementioned roundup. Rated at 2.4x for dual layer +R burns, the LightScribe drive took nearly 20 minutes longer to burn 8GB of data to dual-layer media than the 4x rated, non-LightScribe model. The single-layer, DVD-R write speeds are also slower, 8x versus the 16x speeds of the previous winner. And the LightScribe labeling process is time consuming. It took 22 minutes to print one of the included label templates. LightScribe has announced that a free software/firmware update will be available soon that promises to cut printing time in half.
The drive has two FireWire 400 connectors (no USB), an external power brick, and includes a full version of Toast Titanium 6.0. A drive with USB 2.0, one FireWire 400 port and the Light version of Toast costs $20 less.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
This first LightScribe enabled DVD drive for the Mac features all of the latest technologies, dual-layer burning, and LightScribe label printing, and costs only $10 more than LaCie’s non-LightScribe drives. Once they eliminate the speed tradeoff (slow burn and print speeds) this drive will be much more attractive.
Lacie D2 DVD+/-RW with LightScribe 16x