By Joan T. Sherwood, Senior Editor
If you deliver CDs or DVDs as part of your product package, and you send them out the door labeled with a Sharpie or an adhesive paper label, you need to rethink what that’s doing to your professional image. The DYMO DiscPainter is an affordable option for imprinting CDs and DVDs in-house with your own design, even custom designs for individual clients and marketing materials geared to specific groups of prospects.
The DYMO DiscPainter is strictly a printer; it will not burn CDs or DVDs. The printer uses RadialPrint Technology, spinning the disc and moving it laterally under an inkjet print head that moves in one direction along the radius of the disk. It takes around 1 to 3 minutes to print a disc, depending on the complexity of the design.
It comes with Discus for DYMO software, an extremely versatile and easy-to-use design application. It offers very smart automation features for design elements like arced text and photo windows. Most controls are simple sliders or drag-and-drop functions on the disc layout. You can choose colors from a palette, or opt/alt-click on a color in your photo to select the closest color from the palette.
You can choose to start a disc design from scratch or from a set of readymade designs in the Canvas tab. Add photos, text, symbols, shapes, freehand painting, gradients, patterns. You really have a practically infinite design options. The software can import logos saved as transparent PNG files to overlay images or other elements. DYMO has excellent video tutorials online that show how easy it is.
Image ©Cheryl Pearson
Photographers will particularly appreciate the Collage tool, which allows you to design with multiple photos in plenty of design variations.
The print quality is decent—great for printing on a DVD, but not up to photo-paper standards. For CD/DVD printing you have to use a different set of expectations than you would with a photo-paper print because the media is so different. Some designs work better than others. I tested the printer with a variety of settings, colors, text and design options. I then scanned the printed discs so that you can judge the quality for yourself compared to the original images and designs. The scan color closely matches the disc prints, but does not show how the shine and vibrance of the glossy media makes it pop. Color is adjustable in the Discus for DYMO software, so you can tweak settings for a better match; these are the results of the default settings. You can click any image in this review for a larger detail view. I laid out the disc designs to show a variety of colors, options and settings, not necessarily the most pleasing graphic designs.
Images above ©Vida R. Sherwood
Images above ©Joan T. Sherwood
I tested the printer with three different types of inkjet printable discs: matte white, glossy white, and silver. They require different ink density settings: matte, glossy and color.
The silver discs were the hardest to reproduce via scan or photo to publish with this review because of the iridescence of the print. You might need to experiment to get the best results. The silver disc prints have a unique 3D look, and are much prettier than the scan would indicate.
I used this rather busy design (below) to test speed. Printing on a glossy disc at normal quality took 2 minutes from the moment I hit print in the Discus dialog to completion. At best quality and the same settings, it took 03:04 from print command to completion.
I could see color variations between normal prints and best prints on glossy media, and between the same quality settings between glossy and matte (see below). Again, you can adjust for best results.
Top left: normal glossy; top right: best glossy; bottom left: normal matte; bottom right: best matte
Be careful of marring the surface of discs before you print them. The glossy kind are particularly susceptible to fingernail scratches. I put a Post-It note on one of the discs before I printed it to keep track of what I had burned on it (Dymo recommends you burn information on the discs before printing). The adhesive remnants from the Post-It definitely affected the print results (below). This one also happens to have a photo with a metallic finish colors that have challenged every printer I've tried it on.
The DiscPainter footprint is just under 11x6 inches, which makes it easy to find a spot for it on your desk so that you can print discs while working on other tasks.
I recommend you look at the large view of the examples here to see if the print quality is up to your standards. Keep in mind that the scans of glossy discs do not show the shine and vibrance that the media lends to the print. If you do purchase a disc printer, buy a small number of inkjet-printable discs of various brands to see what works best with the printer and your design and taste before you invest in a huge spindle of discs.
If you have a high-end clientele, you'll probably do better with a third-party disc burning and printing service that uses a sophisticated color-calibrated printing system. If your clients are largely seniors and families, this solution should serve you just fine.
$279.95 from dymo.com
$39.95 ink cartridge