LightScribe - How to Make It Work.
With LightScribe You Can Do This...
How LightScribe All Began
LightScribe was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2004.
It was the brainchild of Daryl Anderson, a Hewlett Packard engineer in Corvallis, Oregon, and brought to market through the joint design efforts of HP's imaging and optical storage divisions.
Anderson also notes that the direct-burn method avoids label clutter.
"There are no consumables like ink or ink jet cartridges; the only consumable is the disc itself, Anderson says. "The discs have a thin, laser-sensitive layer on the label side of the disc."
So, will this out-of-the-box solution to disc labeling mark the end to the sticky labels forever?
Well, its three years since that initial launch and while LightScribe has been adopted by a forward thinking few, it is still to be recognized by the majority as the best way to label your discs.
The reasons for this I believe are fourfold and they are:
1: LightScribe images are only mono, not colored.
2: LightScribe media is many times more expensive than standard blank DVDs and CDs.
3: Getting the LightScribe software to work has proven for many, myself included, a great problem. Understandably, people want technology that is easy to use and we have become accustomed to things being ‘plug and play’.
LightScribe unfortunately does not fit this category. This I am sure has put off all but the most determined.
Five years ago when I first started using LightScribe, there was little or no information available outside HP’s official LightScribe site; Consequently the process was frustratingly difficult to understand and use.
This lack of information prompted me to put together an out-of-the-box software solution called The LightScribe Kit.
This undergone 9 upgrades finalizing on January 2015 in The LightScribe Toolbox 2015 the Best LightScribe Software
4: LightScribe Labeling technology, although standard in HP and Compaq systems, is not promoted by computer retailers such as PC World, Comet, etc.
Until this situation changes the majority of computer users will remain unfamiliar with the great benefits of LightScribe and how to use LightScribe.
You, however, because you are reading this, are one of those forward thinking few and for this I congratulate you.
I have spent the last 9 years trying to promote the benefits of the LightScribe labeling technology. I believe it to be vastly superior to the alternative, namely sticky labels. I also feel that it is just a matter of time before the present drawbacks will be overcome, then LightScribe will then assume its rightful place as the world’s leading labeling technology.
The LightScribe Toolbox 2015
ARE YOU READY FOR LIGHTSCRIBE?
So you are ready to trash your nasty sticky labels and want a piece of the LightScribe action, are you?
STOP RIGHT THERE!
Just before you throw your labels to the shredder, will your computer be up to the task of running LightScribe?
“But”, I hear you say, “my PC has a DVD writer and it’s not that old, so surely it will be up to the job, won’t it?”
Not so fast, I’m afraid. If you remember from the introduction, LightScribe was invented in 2004, and I know that’s three years ago now but HP being a forward looking company did not concern themselves with operating systems that far pre-dated that time.
Having said that, in the last 8 years I have had very few people who want to use LightScribe who were running Windows 98, for instance.
With no further ado, what exactly do you need to have to be able to consider using LightScribe?
Although Mr Gates and friends would like us all to be using a PC and running Vista there are alternatives and we shall look at the three main platforms/operating systems in turn.
1: A Windows based PC.
Windows 8, 7, Vista or XP (32-bit & 64-bit)
2: A Mac.
Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
3: A Linux based PC.
x86 (requires kernel 2.6 and RPM, validated on SuSE 9.x, 10.0)
There you have it; as long as you have a machine with a reasonably recent OS for the type of system you are using then you have successfully passed Step One.
Now we can move on to putting together the remaining parts of your LightScribe System.
This will be covered in the next four steps.
LightScribe Hardware - Get the Right Kit!
One of the questions I have been repeatedly asked is:
“Can I use my existing DVD Drive to print LightScribe labels?”
I’m sorry to say, no you can’t.
There are basically four components to a LightScribe installation and they are:
1: A LightScribe Enabled Drive.
2: LightScribe System Software.
3: LightScribe Labeling Software.
4: LightScribe Media.
The first requirement is a DVD drive that has been specifically designed to use LightScribe Labeling Technology.
Nearly all DVD drive manufacturers now produce at least one LightScribe Enabled drive; these include:
Asus, Benq, Candy, Freecom, Gericom, HP, I/OMagic, Lacie, LG, LiteOn, Maddog, Philips, Samsung.
By way of an example, my first LightScribe drive was a LITEON.
Adding a LightScribe Drive to an existing system.
External/Internal CD/DVD Drives.
If you've already got a computer, you can add LightScribe capabilities in two ways:
1: Get an external LightScribe-enabled DVD drive that connects to your computer.
These can connect via USB or Firewire; both are supported.
2: Get an internal drive that will replace your current CD/DVD drive.
This is by far the most popular method, and the cheapest.
A relevant question I have been asked, in fact the question I have been asked most of all, is:
“How can I tell if my drive is a LightScribe Enabled Drive?”
1: Desktop PC.
Printed on the front of the drive (on the drive tray) will be the LightScribe Logo.
2: Laptop PC.
Slimline drives do not have enough space for a LightScribe logo on the drive tray, but a LightScribe logo sticker should be affixed to all LightScribe-enabled notebooks.
To make sure, the presence of the disc encoder sensor can verify that a drive is LightScribe-enabled.
Looking straight down on the spindle after the drive tray is opened, look for the presence of a LightScribe disc encoder sensor as an indicator of LightScribe capability.
Up to this point the problems are few, however that cannot be said of what follows. Hang on to your hat; it’s time to tackle the software.
LightScribe Software - Now the Fun Begins!
So why the dire warning?
Is the software required to make LightScribe work so really difficult install and use?
The answer lies in the fact that no operating system, even the ones that allow LightScribe to work, have built within them drivers that recognize you have a LightScribe enabled drive installed on your computer.
Herein lies the problem. Unlike upgrading one DVD writer with another comparable drive, upgrading to LightScribe is a different matter entirely.
We have covered the easy bit, namely choosing and installing a new physical drive. What we will now be covering in the next two steps will be choosing, installing and configuring the various parts that make up the necessary LightScribe software installation.
LightScribe System Software
This is the software that allows your computer to 'talk' to your LightScribe drive.
LightScribe Labeling Software.
We shall now cover the relatively easy selection of labeling software. I say relatively easily, because not all proprietary LightScribe labeling software works out of the box as the manufacturers would have us believe.
As in the case of hardware, there are a number of manufacturers who produce software to enable LightScribe labels to be printed. These include:
Acoustica, Cyberlink, Droppix, Intervideo, Lacie, Nero, NTI
Roxio, Smile, Sonic, SureThing, Targetcast
Some names you will recognize and some you may not. HP also produces two simple labeling programs which we will come back to a little later.
It is the very fact that this can be so difficult that led me to produce The LightScribe Toolbox
When I started, I was sent Nero 6.6 with my drive. Armed with this software, I had no reason to doubt that I would have my LightScribe drive working within minutes of installation.
The reality couldn't have been further from the truth.
I spent the next 72 hours searching the web for a solution, after installing and uninstalling various updates. I came to the conclusion that Nero 6.6, on its own at least, was not up to the job.
I eventually discovered the need to have installed prior to the labeling software, what is called LightScribe System Software, or what we may call LightScribe system drivers.
I subsequently found, as many others have, that Nero is notoriously difficult to configure for LightScribe label printing. I found in the end that I needed a different labeling solution.
Please do not misunderstand me; I happily use Nero to burn all my data and music.
However, even after upgrading to Nero 7 Premium I have still not been able to get Nero cover designer, which is the labeling part of the program, to recognize my LightScribe Drive as a LightScribe Drive!
My personal solution, the aforementioned LightScribe Toolbox that I put together, and use myself, includes all the necessary system software and allows someone to install and be printing labels in less than 10 minutes.
The ease of use has been remarked upon by many who have purchased it.
With that said and done, let us look in Step Four at all the components necessary for a successful LightScribe installation.
Installation - Putting the Pieces Together.
As said previously, there are four basic components to a successful LightScribe installation
1: A LightScribe Enabled Drive.
2: LightScribe System Software.
3: LightScribe Labeling Software.
4: LightScribe Media.
We are now going to look at order in which these parts should be installed/used.
Although it might seen obvious because some hardware needs its associated software installed first, nothing here is assumed or taken for granted.
1: However, the first thing to do is in fact to install your new LightScribe Drive.
2: The second thing, and this is most important, is the installation of the system software.
This is required to enable the LightScribe Drive to be recognized not only as a DVD/CD writer, but also as a labeling device by the LightScribe software you choose to install.
2a: Although not specifically mentioned above, incorporated in the system software is a facility to enhance the contrast of your finished labels.
This goes a long way to address the issues of poor contrast in the finished LightScribe label.
3: Now you can install your choice of labeling software.
4: You are now ready to print your first LightScribe labels. LightScribe Media is unlike ordinary blank media.
Remember you can’t print LightScribe images onto normal blank DVDs/CDs
That neatly brings us to Step Five, LightScribe Media.
LightScribe Media - Not All Discs are Created Equal.
When is a DVD not a DVD, when it’s a LightScribe DVD?
These are available in:
CDR, DVD+R, DVD-R and DVD+R DL
So what are the difference between an ordinary Disc and a LightScribe Disc?
1: A thin dye coating on the label side of LightScribe discs absorbs laser light, which triggers a chemical reaction to give you a silkscreen-quality reproduction of your artwork, text or photos.
2: The discs are Gold in color, and the image formed is like a greyscale or sepia photograph.
The manufacturers of LightScribe Media include:
Aleratec, Benq, HP, Imitation, Infiniti, Memorex, Omega, Philips, Platinet, Primeon, SmartTrack, TDK, Verbatim
LightScribe Media Version 1.2
Second generation discs are now available from most manufacturers and the advantages are:
1: Faster Labeling.
Full CD label now approximately 16 minutes vs. 23 minutes for media version 1.1.
2: Lighter Gold Background.
Allowing a higher contrast image
But just remember, if you want maximum storage and are not so concerned about GREAT Labeling, you will have to stick with ordinary Dual Layer discs.
However, if you wish a great image on your label and don’t have the need to Max your storage go for LightScribe discs every time.
What about COLOR? I hear you ask. - Now, that’s a great question.
The Future’s Bright - The Future’s COLOR
The LightScribe story so far.
1: LightScribe Technology (now with the advent of 1.2 second generation media) will produce a full face label (covering the entire surface of the disc) in approximately 16 minutes.
2: LightScribe Media is now available in Color.
These are Single Color discs and produce labels that are still MONO. The image is still a greyscale image; it is just that the background colour is now not limited to Gold.
What does the future hold for LightScribe?
Well, for what its worth, here is my wish list:
1: Faster Labeling - I would like the speed to label a disc to be comparable to the time taken to burn the data.
2: Cheaper Discs - The present cost of discs is prohibitive. I know manufacturers have got to recover their R&D costs but until the cost comes down, the take-up by the general public will be very slow. The cost of a LightScribe Drive is comparable to a Non-LightScribe one – so come on manufacturers and sellers, let’s see some serious reduction in prices!
3: FULL COLOR Labeling – This is the Holy Grail of LightScribe.
When this is accomplished (and I believe not UNTIL this is accomplished), LightScribe will finally become the method of choice, not just among the likes of us (early adopters, I think we are called!) but among everyone wishing to have a fantastic professional looking label to accompany the data on their discs.
Help and Support.
Although I have been called “A LightScribe Guru” in the past, the only difference between me and you (if you are new to LightScribe) is that I have now 9 years experience in using this technology that’s all.
In that time I have solved all the problems that have stood between me and successful LightScribe Labeling.
I hope you have enjoyed, but more importantly benefited from reading this introductory guide to the world of LightScribe.
If you still have any LightScribe related questions please email me.
And as always, may the LightScribe be with you....
HP Stop Supporting LightScribe
Things have moved on a lot since I first wrote this Hub...
In December 2013 Hp closed their LightScribe.com support site and with it any possibility of the System Software or for that matter, the free Simple and Template Labeler's ever being updated.
In fact the last updates we have are from March 2013...
Because of this, Windows 8.1 has proven a real problem for LightScribe users and the reason is simple...
The last update of the software was prior to it's release...
That said I have done my best to find workarounds for may of the problems and you can find them at my LightScribeSoftware.org and my new LightScribe.TV websites.
I will put links for them below...
I hope this has helped in explaining the current state of LightScribe (as of Feb 2015) I post new info on my websites...
As always... Enjoy LightScribe...
Further LightScribe Info...
- LightScribe Training Videos for an Easier LightScribe Life
LightScribe.TV is all about LightScribe video training. Our videos cover all aspects of LightScribe, so you can create perfect LightScribe labels every time
- Free and Premium Lightscribe Labeling Software
All the LightScribe Software you need to create fantastic LightScribe labels. Free and premium LightScribe programs inc the latest LightScribe System Software.
- All You Need To Know To Create A LightScribe Label
How to LightScribe? Just install a LightScribe drive and you're off - If only that were true. Here we explain what you need to burn your first LightScribe label.
- LightScribe Labeling Assistance
New to LightScribe or a Veteran - LightScribe Labeling has you covered.
- LightScribe - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wikipedia - More General LightScribe Information