I'm about to add a 2nd CD/DVD drive to my computer, and I see no reason not to make it a read/write drive (the original is as well). However, I'm thinking about getting a Lightscribe drive, and I wanted to get some feedback.
Do they actually work? Do they work well? Assuming that they do work well, what is a good brand/model? I'm running Vista 64, my current drive is a Samsung, but I have no particular attachment to the brand unless there's a reason not to mix drive manufacturers.
If the recommendation is "They're junk, and here's why!" then I want to know that as well -- I like gadgets as much as the next guy but I prefer ones that actually work.
Just a quick comment on Lightscribe. The output is kind of neat but burning the label is a very slow process. With a high quality label, it may take 35 - 45 minutes to do. Its not for something you want to make a lot of copies of plus the media costs more and there is no lightscribe media available for dual layer.
35-45 minutes? Ouch! Is the computer basically useless during that time or can you do other things while it's burning the label?
I wouldn't be making a whole lot of copies, and I was told (I haven't looked into it) that the media wasn't significantly more expensive than regular disks and labels. Of course, the person who told me that was trying to sell me a lightscribe drive at the time.
i picked up an asus quiet-drive with lightscribe and it surprisingly worked very well. it was an ide oem model from newegg for about $30. i downloaded the software right from lightscribe's site and it creates some really nice images on the discs. i used photos and they came out great. the only problem i had was that my drive would not burn the actual data to the ls dvd's (maxell) but did burn fine to the ls cd's (verbatim). it could just be bad media but my old dvd burner burned the data to the ls dvd media just fine. i was able to burn the labels with my new asus drive and then burn data with my old drive. the asus drive does burn dvds just fine with other media (sony, tdk, verbatim).
it does take about 30 minutes to burn the image if you use best quality which i do. i have it on an older single-core pc so it is single threaded so to speak. i will usually start a picture it and then watch tv or whatever and check on it during the ads. as far as the dvd portion, that burns at normal speed (5 min).
Look at the SH-S203N for example. It happens to be a Samsung too. There is no problem with mixing brands AFAIK. I have a Plextor and an LG myself and no problems. In fact I like it this way, because each of them is better than the other at some things.
LightScribe is really really slow and it's use of monochrome color scheme greatly limits creativity and realism of disc labels. It also tends to reproduce light parts of an image almost too light to see easily. Get a second disc drive with LS but if you plan on labeling more than a very small quantity of discs I would recommend getting a DiscPainter to print your disc labels. The DiscPainter makes high quality full color labels very quickly. Definitely a better way to go.
I have the SH-S203N and love it...no problems at all. The thing with lightscribe is the discs tend to be a little more expensive but not all that bad. There's a little lightscribe control panel you can adjust whether you want more contrast which makes the write time longer. With the extended contrast it's around 27 min for best quality (i never dont do best quality) and 18 for regular contrast. I also have only used verbatim's and dont bother with other brands.
If you're not satisfied with the contrast even with the extended option, you can make another pass (i usually do one extended and one regular). It will always line up and start exactly where it did before. If you look at a lightscribe cd, the center is actually a type of barcode. Text comes out very nice and the quality is very professional, i have a LS drive at work and make CD's for customers (an LG). Pictures are very nice but the darker something is, the more you will notice the concentric circles with make up the image. They are close together but not close enough where you can't make out the edges of the circles.
Nero is a blah program for Lightscribe...it works and thats about it. If you want something nice, try Surething, it works awesome. If you're planning on doing lightscribe for movies, there's a couple sites I use for the labels:
cd covers is pretty much scans of the real cd people have submitted.
lightscribecovers are custom labels people made for LS cd's as the center of the disc takes up a lot more space than regular CDs. One last thing...to make it even work, you have to install a piece of software/firmware for lightscribe..(both utilities i use are here)
I've had a LightScribe drive a few years now. Yes, they're slow to write labels so not good for volume production, but background running is no problem (and I'm only on a hyperthreaded 2.4 GHz P4).
Biggest failing would be the fact that you're stuck with monochrome black-on-gold (think original GameBoy screen) labelling, but the full-colour solutions out there are pretty expensive. The quality is very good as long as the contrast is up. If all you're after is a nicer way to label a CD/DVD every now, and you're not paying too much extra, then LightScribe is a handy thing to have.