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Blu-ray is the big topic at NAB

Having exhibited at NAB 2008 in Las Vegas, NV, the main message that I took away from the show is “can you copy Blu-ray”? It seems as though every other question was about Blu-ray duplication. Once we answered, “yes, we have Blu-ray duplicators”, it was then followed by, “what’s the cost”? Even though the price is a bit higher than a DVD duplicator, they were still enthralled with the anticipation of transferring from DVD to Blu-ray.

Even though the Blu-ray duplication market is significantly smaller than the DVD duplication market, but the DVD market paled in comparison to CD at one point as well. So it’s only logical to think that the Blu-ray market will blossom as the costs become more manageable and there are more people creating Blu-ray content.

In the meantime, while the consumers are waiting for the Blu-ray duplication equipment to reach a price that meets their needs, the visitors that came by our booth were captivated by the new SharkCopier LS and Xerox Duplicators which each feature a unique and distinctive advantage over existing standalone duplication towers.

The SharkCopier LS with LightScribe capability is the first manual tower standalone LightScribe publishing system allowing users to copy and label discs through the same device in the same drive. The savings and convenience were a big hit as they marveled at the improved labeling quality. Seeing a manual tower pop out 15 fully printed discs in a single run simultaneously really struck a cord with our visitors.

The Xerox Duplicator series also really caught their attention as they learned how they could load their image files directly from a PC onto the duplicator’s internal hard drive. Not only does this process save time, especially if you have multiple files to duplicate, but they were also impressed with how easy the program was to operate and manage. Plus with the expected release of Blu-ray capable Xerox Duplicators, it was a logical fit to use the “Drag and Drop” operation to load the masters onto the duplicator rather than wait the 45 minutes it could take to produce a single BD master disc. The soon to be released Xerox Blu-ray duplicator will take just a fraction of the time to load the master image file onto the duplicator’s HDD so that the duplication process will be much quicker and convenient.

So it’s encouraging that Blu-ray has created such a demand and that the market is building for this product and we are excited to make all forms of optical disc duplication available for this growing market.

Worldwide Optical Drive Analysis

In an informal analysis of the worldwide optical drive market, the market share between compatible drives, as shown below, mark trends in the industry:

1) ROM versus RW – Most of us have noticed that the COMBO-RW already occupies 90% of the drive market share compared to the ROM market. Hardly anyone will purchase a ROM unless they intend to use it as a pure-reader. This is traditionally found only in the duplication industry.

2) COMBO (CD/DVD) versus BD (Blu-ray) – “DVD burners will remain the bread-and-butter business for ODD vendors. Despite Blu-ray’s win over HDD in the format war, BD drive adoption will be limited in 2008,” said Wolfgang Schlichting, research director, Removable Storage, at IDC.

3) Half-Height (HH) versus Slim – In Japan the slim drive for the notebook series shares a bigger market because of its space-saving concept. However, half-height drives are stilling leading the market share due to its lower price offer.

4) PATA/IDE versus SATA – In 2008, we see a dramatic change in the demand and supply of PATA versus SATA drives. Understandably many consumers are confused by which format to choose. In the meantime, PATA is fine and SATA is fine. The consumer should focus their choice based on the subsystem, not the drive interface. If the drives are sold inside the SharkCopier and the SharkCopier is performing well at the right affordable price with PATA, then the drive choice no longer becomes a factor.

LightScribe; a new method of Labeling CDs and DVDs

For most people, there are 3 ways to create a label on a CD or DVD;

1) Use a marker and write directly on the disc. This method is typically unattractive and the marker can leak through the plastic and degrade the data on the disc over time.
2) Print or write on a paper sticker label that’s adhered to the disc. Although this could offer a more attractive image – if the label is not properly applied, it could affect the balance of the disc while spinning in the player and affect the playback capability. Plus the adhesive from the label can degrade the data over time.
3) Use a CD/DVD inkjet or thermal printer to label directly on the disc. This is a more affective and safer method of printing on the disc, but it can be more costly for the printers, ink or ribbon, and higher price for the printable discs.

What you may not be aware of is that there is another labeling option through the recorder drive itself using laser labeling technology such as LightScribe Technology. LightScribe is a new form of Labeling CDs and DVDs, by scribing a label directly onto the label side of the disc using the same laser beam in the drive that is used to burn in the data on the data side of the disc. The LightScribe technology uses a special Laser Beam to etch the label on the surface of the disc. To use this technology we need an Optical Disc Drive with the LightScribe Technology and LightScribe capable CDs or DVDs.

Because there is no ink, it is easy to create professional looking discs with LightScribe technology from photos, text and artwork through your duplicator without the need of an added printer. One of the main benefits of this type of disc labeling is the lack of imbalance problems found during disc spinning that other paper-based labeling solutions have been known to cause. The process also does not emit any dangerous chemicals or dramatically reduce the lifespan of the CD or DVD drive under normal usage. The label is created on the disc by initiating a chemical change in the disc coating. A study of potential health and safety problems from using LightScribe turned up no cause for concern whereas ink and thermal ribbon could release chemicals into the air that we can breathe or ingest unknowingly. So if you’re looking for a more effective, lower cost, and safer method of labeling CDs and DVDs, then using a standalone duplicator with LightScribe technology is the answer!