Six years have passed since the last consumer Mac was made that included an optical drive that wasn’t capable of burning CDs, so you might think us crazy to suggest spending more than a basic MacBook Pro costs on a device that burns CDs. It does more, however.
It’s a single box that both burns and prints CDs and even dual-layer DVDs. (There’s also a separate Blu-ray model.)
You load 50 printable discs into the hopper in the top, and then, when you send a job from the PrintWrite software, it will first burn, then print the disc, and send it to the output hopper at the front of the device. And if you ask for more than one copy of a disc, the G3 can be printing the first at the same time as the second is being burned.
It took just over 40 minutes to create 10 printed, burned copies of an audio CD, and that included four and a half minutes to cache the copy to hard disk from a physical disc.
Print quality is excellent – it’s an HP engine – and while not waterproof, discs can at least cope with small splashes. CDs are quite cheap to print at around 15p per disc.
It’s not perfect, however. Mac OS X 10.6 isn’t supported, though Microboards hopes to rectify that soon.
Of more concern though is the quirkiness of the software and the setup. We had a few issues getting it sorted, and though it may not be the norm, it’s nevertheless true that the PrintWrite software isn’t as well presented or easy to use as it could be. There’s not even a basic app for laying out your labels – you’d have to create them in, and export them from, another program – and the results you see in the preview don’t always match the printed output.
The calibration routine was useless, and we ended up centring the output through guesswork; luckily it’s a job you only need do once.
Nobody would argue that this is a mass-market product, and it’s priced accordingly, but once you’ve bent it to your will, it’s fast and efficient. We’d like to be able to have tested it hard for six months to get an idea of its robustness, but we’re optimistic it would stand up to moderate use.
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