Bravo Disc Publisher
Review

Bravo Disc Publisher
OS X Compatible

Company: Primera Technology, Inc.
Price: $1995.00 for CD-R; $2495 for DVD-R/CD-R
http://www.primera.com

INITIAL COMMENTS BY NEMO

David Weeks unpacked, setup, and installed everything necessary to batch-process quantities of professional-level custom CDs, using high-speed burns and imprinting high-quality labels using Bravo, by the time Nemo arrived at Weeks’ home office. David said the procedure was straightforward, with help from Primera’s well-written printed Quick Start Guide. This manufacturer wisely includes both the necessary FireWire 400 and USB cables, but provides only one special printable 52x CD-R blank. “For two grand, they could be a little generous with the media,” says John.

(According to Primera, “Actually, we ship 2 silver and 2 white printable surface discs with each Bravo purchase. You should have received 4 discs, not one.”) Nemo’s point precisely. How about a special introductory offer so new purchasers can blast through a 50-pack for around $25.00?

All disks, ink, and additional supplies are sold from the Primera web site and through Primera’s channel of distributors and resellers. Media can also be purchased from any major media manufacturer. “Looks like a closed shop situation,” says Nemo, “but that’s fine under the circumstances.”

While clicking through the company’s links, Weeks came across refurbished units priced as low as $1295.00 US for CD units, and $1995.00 US for DVD-R/CD-R machines. Nice prices! This site has plenty of helpful and interesting info, so prospective purchasers should look around and learn as much as possible both before and after obtaining a Bravo.

We received a 50-pack of blank inkjet printable surface disks for our evaluation, and they cost $32.50 for a spindle-pack. Bravo’s capacity is 25 at one session (50 disc capacity with kiosk mode), which you can see in progress in the accompanying photo provided by Primera. Bravo is a prosumer product, and professional units with greater capacity are also available from this company. In a small office or private recording studio, Bravo falls somewhere between the ultimate megageek burner / labeler and a high-quality, world-class duplicator.

Opening the Quick Start booklet to “Creating a Disc,” we launched Discribe Robot OS X 5.1 to create a data disk of David’s MP3s from his iTunes Library, totaling 400 MB of legal song dupes. Bravo displayed “LG CD-RW 52x24x52 At FireWire” in the burner panel, which is the speed of the CD-RW drive.

We identified a misprint or two in Primera’s Quick Start booklet, but nothing serious. For example, step 6 should read “Click Design Image” instead of “Click Design Disk.” Glancing through the 300 included front label image templates, John was impressed and excited by the variety and quality.) Over 800 additional pro-level “.bmp” images are available at additional cost.

 

Here’s a photo of David loading Bravo, prior to our first serious burn and print. Once the process begins, the machine picks up a blank disk, places it into the (lower) CD-RW drive, then burns at a true 52x: 407 MB in 58 seconds, which is fast. Discribe authoring software displays typical progress and countdown info, using “Burn Proof,” just like the more familiar Roxio Toast.

Once data burning is complete Bravo ejects the disk, lifts it, and moves it into the upper drawer for printing. Sounds emerge as from a typical ink jet print mechanism, but quieter, since everything is covered by the clear, dark dust protection panel. We observed Bravo’s print arm moving back and forth under the smoked-plastic Lexan cover.

Next the printed, burned, completed disk is placed into the output well, opposite from the blanks. “Is that slick, or what!” says Weeks. His new custom music mix played perfectly in his mighty G4, and in a standard CD player. Bravo is not a supported burner for iTunes, but mounts and plays discs just fine.

We proceeded from this single test procedure to create real-world custom-labeled audio CDs from a Nemo production dating back over 30 years (to be discussed in a future Nemo Memo, so watch this space). Beginning with a 1200 x 1200 dpi TIF image file we created in David’s HP scanner we cropped and saved as a 120 x 120 mm file (1200 pixels per inch), as instructed by Primera, Discribe performed “Copy a CD” originating in Weeks’ G4 CD-drive. We were allowed to “Choose Image” and agreed to record before printing, to conserve ink. Each label image width needs to be less than 4096 pixels, if you were keeping score.

Primera provides 30-day free tech support, followed by a reasonable fee of $10 per call per incident during normal Central Time business hours. Fax and email support are free of charge.

WEEKS ADDS:

Discribe cannot title disks or tracks in our reviewed version 5.1. (Primera says, “5.2 is shipping now and this change should be made by Charismac with version 5.3.”)

Discribe sometimes grabs control of the internal drive, and prevents the user from inserting or ejecting CDs from the internal drive. Quitting Discribe returns control of the internal drive to the user. This is a problem that was acknowledged by Bravo Tech Support.

(Primera responds: “This is not intermittent. At some point Discribe has to unmount a CD in order to read raw disc data. This is a fundamental requirement under OS X from the initial Apple release. Discribe prevents a disc from mounting so it can read all sectors on CDs.”)

While Discribe allows you to save documents (the CD contents and configuration) you have to specify EACH time if you want a label printed, and if so, which image is to be used. Also, the document does not remember the Page Setup settings, which have to be specified each time. Mac documents are supposed to remember the Page Setup settings. (Primera tells MyMac.com, “You can actually set all of the page set-up options and then click Ă”set as default,’ Also, Charismac hopes to remove the label printing specification in version 5.3.”)

During the dupe run of Nemo’s special CD burn, Discribe “unexpectedly quit.” I had to restart to get proper operation back; logout/login would not do it. (MyMac.com just learned that “Charismac is also trying to determine the cause of the unexpected quit and hopes to have it resolved with version 5.3.”)

The Bravo can be used as a standalone reader/writer CD unit. You do not have to have the USB plug in for this; that’s for the printing function.

Nemo’s disc duplicated in five minutes, and the printing took about 1+ minute. Moving disks internally takes some small amount of time.

Tech support is very good (Steve) but expect a wait, and the call is not toll-free. I did not try email.

SUMMING UP — BRAVO!

Don’t take our gripes too seriously, because we are delighted with the excellent quality of music or data reproduction, and overjoyed with the appearance of our custom printed labels. Bravo’s hardware is robust, attractive, and well designed. Documentation and support are top-notch, especially considering today’s degraded standards.

Charismac’s Discribe feels like an application in progress, yet both Primera and Charismac are working to bring their software up to the quality of their hardware. Why is Bravo using Discribe and not Roxio’s Toast? Probably because Charismac was prepared to work closely with Primera to develop a custom solution for a broad range of users.

Weeks and Nemo RECOMMEND Bravo Disc Publisher for users who need highest-quality multiples of custom-labeled CDs. If you fit this profile, the substantial cost and modest learning curve will be well worth your purchase of this exciting new class of product.

Publishers End Note:
After submission of this review, MyMac.com’s publisher, Tim Robertson, questioned the ink situation for this unit. The question was: how easy is it to purchase new ink or ink cartridges for this unit? As anyone who uses an ink-jet printer knows, your ink will run out in the middle of a print job. If you are on your last ink cartridge when this happens, how easily can you get a replacement? What print technology does the unit use? Here is the reply from Primera Technology, Inc.:

The true desire of the Bravo Disc Publisher is that you can burn and print multiple copies hands-free. You can start a job and walk away. Printing full-color graphics directly onto the surface of the disc is an added feature.

Ink cartridges can be purchased from any of Primera’s distributors, resellers, on Primera’s web site and directly from Primera’s sales department. Primera sells in more than 85 countries around the world. Primera uses a remanufactured, redesigned Lexmark print engine.

MacMice Rating: 4 out of 5


John Nemerovski

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