Pros: Burns well and easy to label.
Cons: Takes a while to do the Lightscribe etching. Monochrome, not color.
Want to burn your own CD's and inscribe them with cool looking laser etched text and graphics? Lightscribe CDs may be for you! On many occasions, I want to burn a CD from my music collection on my computer. I also want to clearly have the CD labeled without stickers or sharpie pens. Two such options are either ink jet printable CDs and a CD printer (which I have also used) or Lightscribe CDs.
What the heck is Lightscribe?
Simply put, many CD/DVD burners today have something called a Lightscribe Burner built into it. My newer HP Computer includes such a Lightscribe Burner, and once I got it up and running (it was nearly crippled by Vista), I wanted to try it. What lightscribe technology does is to inscribe a monochromatic graphic onto the appropriate lightscribe media. If you are familar with how a woodcut print looks like, or a monochromatic photo, you can get the idea. You can burn graphics or text onto the label side surface of a CD or DVD that is labeled as Lightscribe. If you don't have a Lightscribe Burner in your computer, you would still be able to use these to burn media, but you won't be able to label it.
Why Would I Want to do That?
Do not question technology! If it is available to do, you say Oh Cool and you do it! This attitude has brought us incredible weapons, cloned sheep and Twitter. Okay some real reasons; one, if you stick a label on a CD or DVD it will eventually ruin it. For some reason the adhesives just throw the balance off. I know this from experience, sad but true. Two, sharpies just look tacky. Your choices for professional or at least neat looking CDs and DVDs is either printable media or lightscribe media. Not everyone has a Color Ink jet printer that allows for printing on CDs and DVDs. I have two, but I can't have you all coming over here and using one of my Epson printers. The lightscribe technology allows you an INK FREE method of labeling your CDs and DVDs! If you pay for your own ink, this may be reason enough.
How do Lightscribe CDs look?
I decided to burn a copy of everyones favorite Finnish Folk Metal Band Finntroll and their album Jaktens Tod for my son. Since he is a Mac, and I'm a PC, he needed the CD to add into his MacBook. I burned the music on one side and the label on the other. (Yes, the computer lets you know which side is which so you won't screw it up). I printed a graphic of the album cover and the name of the songs on it. Although it is monochromatic, it actually looked pretty cool. As I noted earlier, it reminds me of a woodcut or a sepia toned photo. The graphics of evil little Finnish Trolls ready to exact mayhem looked great as did the band's stylized name and album name. The basic Times New Roman text I selected for the song titles looks just fine as well. The finish is very smooth, and I didn't notice any flaking or peeling.
Okay, it Looks good, but What About the Media Side?
Of course I can tell you from Many Many experiences with various recording media that looks aren't everything. If you have a pretty label on one side, but the media on the other side drops out or just doesn't work, it's all for naught. I am happy to say that my son popped it into his computer to burn it onto his own hard drive with no problem. I then popped it into my CD player to listen to as I wrote this review. Finntroll sounds just great.
Other Stuff to Know
These CD-Rs are rated up to 52X. That means with the appropriate burner, your recordings will be done shortly after you click BURN. The lightscribe inscription takes about 15 minutes though, at least on my computer. It is a newer model as well with a Quad Core processors blah blah blah. The CD side was burned within minutes though. The price for the HP lightscribe CD-Rs is slightly more than regular CDs but nothing terrible. I purchased a spindle pack of 25 from Staples for $17.99. Smaller packs typically cost more per disc and larger amounts less per disc. I wanted to focus on the quality of the discs themselves in this review rather than the various packaging offered.
So, What are my Thoughts on HP Lightscribe CD-Rs?
Myself, I still like the printable media best, I prefer full color to monochrome. I can't even say these are faster, because the lightscribe burner in my computer takes longer to burn the image in than it takes my Epson 200 or 1400 to print out a CD. However, I found these to be a nice alternative if I couldn't find printable media that I wanted. You also don't need to wait for the ink to dry on these, as there is no ink. If you burn a lot of CDs and don't want to use your ink on them, Lightscribe can be a viable alternative.
You may also find that the Lightscribe Look can give a high tech look to your CDs that even printable CDs don't have. The laser etching has a cool "shiny" look to it. I can't really think of anything negative to say about the HP lightscribe CDs. I gave them four stars.