Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Printing DVDs - Dymo DiscPainter

Even though I put most of the stuff I shoot on the Web, now and again I have to burn a DVD. And if you want to make a good impression – and who doesn’t? – a disc that’s got a printed label looks a lot better than something you’ve written on with a Sharpie.

I have an Epson printer, and it does a pretty good job of printing on DVDs/CDs, but the printer itself frustrates me a lot. Having six ink cartridges, it always seems like one of the cartridges is low. And when you replace a cartridge, it goes through a charging cycle (which sucks ink out of the other cartridges) and you often end up having to then replace another cartridge...and then repeat the process.

Sometimes it feels like the thing is just sucking ink, and not printing anything. That’s not a DVD printing issue, but it is an issue I have with this printer.

The other problem I have is that the printer can be a little finicky when you insert the plastic carrier with the disc. Every fifth or sixth disc the thing doesn’t feed correctly and you have to wait for it to eject and then line it up and try again.

It’s annoying, and if I had to print lots of discs I would have probably thrown the thing out the window ages ago.

A friend has the same kind of issues with his HP printer, and he’s printing 200-300 discs a year, so he’s decided to try the Dymo DiscPainter. On the face of it, the device seems like a good solution: it’s small and designed just for printing on discs. I guess he had a particularly hard time of it this past weekend, and went ahead and ordered it from Amazon ($249.99)

When he was telling me about it, I was agreeing with his reasoning, and saying that if I was printing more discs, I’d probably buy something like it. But then I went and read the user reviews on Amazon and noticed a few troubling warnings.
  • While it rates 3 out of 5 stars, I think that’s really closer to 2 and a half. The five and four star reviews, with 49 and 18 votes respectively, are almost exactly balanced by the 16 two star and 46 one star reviews.
  • Even those who like the printer acknowledge that print quality is much lower than other printers, and though some think it's because of the number of colors, descriptions of wavy text make it sound like print-head alignment just isn't good enough. One reviewer wrote: When the Discpainter doesn't have to dither, it looks great, just as good as the Epson, but when it does, the image quality looks like a 4 color inkjet from over 5 years ago. And that guy gave it four stars! Another user wrote: I wouldn't use this to label a disk that I was going to give to a client or customer, but it's OK for labeling backups and safety copies and that sort of thing.
  • Lots of problems were reported with the print cartridge drying up and causing streaking or skipped lines.
  • Several users reported the printer doesn't work for Windows 7 or Snow Leopard. [UPDATE] Dymo released updated drivers February 2010 for Snow Leopard, and in March for Windows 7
I had to go back and ask my friend whether he really read the reviews; and yeah, he seemed okay with them, though when I mentioned the issues with dried out cartridges, it did give him pause. I guess he had assumed all the complaints about image quality were just related to the fewer number of colors.

I’ll let you know what happens…


Steve Hannah's World said...

I would agree. I bought one two years ago and if you don't print with it every couple of weeks to a month, the ink cartridge dries out. I have bought three $40 cartridges and probably printed 20 DVD's.

Plectronic said...

I have the Dymo Disc Painter and I have the same issue with the ink cartridges. I was told to put the ink cartridges in a zip lock bag after use but that didnt work.I just wrote to Dymo tech support and they replied they discontinued that machine.They have sent me a new ink cartridge and that works only if you stay with the machine and do 50 or 100 disc, then it works but you cant do 5 or 10 disc and dont touch the machine for a week or two because of the ink or the machine. Why is it that a printer with ink cartridges like the disc painter work properly when you dont use the printer for a week or more! John

Plectronic said...

Continuation of my last blog is a comment from Dymo: The reason why it was discontinued I do not know. I believe the ink drying up was one of the reasons. If we do produce another disc painter, it will probably be a thermal printer which will not require ink like the rest of our printers.
Until then you'll have to do more disc at one time unless someone finds a good way to solve the ink cartridge problem. Maybe its the grade of ink, so why doesnt my color ink cartridge for my printer dry up?