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Monday, January 12, 2004
HP announces LightScribe direct disc labeling

LightScribe Direct Disc Labeling is a new technology, invented by HP, that enables CD and DVD images and disc labels to be etched onto discs using the same drive that is used to burn the data.

The technology requires three elements to deliver lasting, silkscreen-qualitylabels: 1) a LightScribe-enabled optical disc drive, 2) LightScribe compatible media, and 3) LightScribe-supported software applications. HP’s intent is to create a market standard by licensing LightScribe to manufacturers in the PC and consumer electronics markets, including optical disc drive manufacturers, media manufacturers, software providers and PC and consumer electronics brands.

LightScribe Direct Disc Labeling is a complete system that, with modification to existing hardware, software and media, enables consumers to burn labels directly on their discs using the drive’s existing laser. LightScribe licensees receive access to enabling technology, and LightScribe licensing requirements and component compliance testing ensure system compatibility. Licensed components will carry the LightScribe trademark so consumers can quickly identify LightScribe-enabled drives, media and software.

A typical label-burning scenario might start with the consumer burning music tracks to a disc. During the data mastering operation, the software collects information that appears in a preview of an automatically generated disc label design. When the consumer has finished burning his music, the system verifies that the disc is a LightScribe disc. If the consumer approves the preview label design, he launches the etching operation, removes the disc from the drive, flips it over and reloads it label side down.

The system collects additional information from the drive and uses it in conjunction with the disc information to create the circular image file. The system sends the labelling commands to the drive, which the drive uses to direct the laser to write the disc label. The finished, labelled disc is ejected automatically. The first LightScribe-enabled drives and media are expected to be on the market in about six months. A number of manufacturers have already licensed the technology to put on their DVD drives. Among them are Hitachi-LG, Toshiba, Mitsubishi, MicroVision, Moser Baer India, and Sonic Solutions. HP estimates that a drive that supports the new technology will cost as little as an additional $10, and a disc will cost about a dime more.

LightScribe differs from Yamaha's Disc T@2 technology, introduced over a year ago on the CRW-F1 CD-RW drive. In that case, the laser burns a label on the disc's underside, reducing the amount of data the disc can store. Also, to view the label, you must expose the disc's underside, making it easier to compromise the data it contains with accidental scratches or scuffs.

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