by Steve Cunningham

Despite the fact that we live in an MP3, FTP, gotta-have-it-right-now world, I still burn through a lot of optical media every month. Compact disc masters for clients and demos for my agent, audio CDs for my students, DVD-Rs for backing up sessions — you name it, I burn it. A cakebox of 100 CDs might last me two to four weeks at the max. I never got into the paper-label thing for discs (it just seemed too much trouble, and then there’s the wrinkle/peeling issue). Sharpies are okay for backups only, but some of them will make discs unreadable over time, and I would never send a hand-written disc to a client.

I started using Primera inkjet printers to print discs in 2000; I’m now on my second printer from them. I bought both units used on eBay for around $300 each, and they’ve served me well. But the entire process is highly labor intensive, because these old CD printers only print one disc at a time. I have to sit next to the printer with the next burned disc at the ready, so when the drawer slides out I can take out the finished disc and put in a blank one before the drawer pulls back into the machine; otherwise I end up printing the same disc twice. It’s a pain, and I don’t like it.

I’ve looked in vain for an all-in-one publishing solution that I could afford for quite awhile. But look for yourself — printers with mechanical arms to shuffle discs are expensive. Even Primera’s own Bravo and Bravo II printers, with or without burners included, start at two large retail. That is out of my league. So when the company introduced the BravoSE disc publisher that includes a burner, an inkjet printer, a robotic arm to make it all work, and a street price around $1400, I knew it was time for a review.