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Home > Hardware Reviews > Optical Storage > CD Printers

Monday, February 18, 2002
Primera Composer - Signature III

1. Big toys for big boys ;-)

Primera Composer/Signature III System - Page 1

Big toys for big boys ;-)

- Introduction:
Most users are happy with their home CDR-W drive. The most recent CDR-W drives with the 16x/20x/24x writing speed are able to produce enough amount of CDs per hour but with time problems since the human factor is involved. When the time comes for increased quantity among with other features, such as CD printing, normal solutions are out of question.. Long time now professionals are using the so-called "Auto-loader" systems.

- What is an "Auto-loader" system? (Source Padus DJ on-line manual)
"...A CD autoloader consists of one or more CD Recorders that are able to accept, for consecutive loading into their trays, blank recordable CDs from a stack. In addition to the accurate duplication of the source compact discs which are often interspersed with blank discs. The special software handles the task of controlling the autoloader robotics, so that blank media are correctly loaded into the CD Recorder, defective discs discarded, and successful duplicate discs removed after recording. Autoloaders are normally a combination of a drive section (with one or more CD Recorder devices) and a robotic section. CD Recorders are usually devices that use a SCSI interface to communicate with the host computer while the robotic section can either use a RS-232 (serial) or SCSI interface (parallel)..."

was founded in September of 1998 by the same management team that built FARGO Electronics. "...Primera's mission is to produce technologically superior products that offer a high degree of customer satisfaction and value while conducting business affairs with unparalleled integrity, courtesy and professionalism.." as Primera states in their website. Primera's headquartered are in Plymouth, Minnesota, USA, and distributes its products in over 80 countries! We tested the Primera Composer Optical Disc Duplicator among with the Signature III CD Printer.

- Primera Composer Optical Disc Duplicator:

"...The Composer is a low cost, turnkey duplication system that can be configured for either CD-R or DVD-R. It duplicates and optionally prints up to 50 discs per job from any Windows based PC. A "pick-and-place" robotic arm transports discs from an input tray to the integrated CD-R or DVD-R recorder. After recording, the disc is transported to an optional Primera Technology ink-jet or thermal optical disc printer where it is printed and then stacked in a 50-disc output tray. The Composer comes either with Plextor 12x SCSI or Pioneer DVD-R recorder...".

In other words you are getting a small CD/DVD duplication factory in your home! Note that the Composer system is not supporting either MAC or Linux OS system. The problem here is not the hardware but the CDR software. Both MAC and Linux OS have very limited variety of CDR software. Another issue is that the possible buyer cannot reduce the initial cost by dropping off the included CDR-W drive. The Primera insists that this cannot happen since there is an alignment and testing procedure so that discs are perfectly placed into the tray each and every time. That ensures the proper working of the Composer duplicator.

How many CDs can I make per hour?
This depends on 2 things: 1) how much data is recorded on each disc, and (2) how much is printed on each disc. In a typical software application, only a small portion of the disc is recorded - perhaps 50MB of the possible 650MB on the disc. An entire 650MB records in six minutes on a 12x CD-R drive. So, 50MB would take only about one minute. Printing in 600 x 600 dpi default mode on a Signature III CD Color Printer also takes one minute. So, each disc takes two minutes from start to finish. This yields 30 discs per hour.

Does Composer need to always be connected to a computer?
Yes. It is what's called a "PC Connect" duplicator. The other type of duplicator available is usually called a "Stand-alone." Stand-alone duplicators have a PC board inside them instead of connecting to the PC you already own. Each have their own place in the market, but PC Connect duplicators like Composer are usually much more versatile due to the application-specific software (i.e. Prassi PrimoCD Pro) that is shipped with them.

Who will need the Composer duplicator system?
Primera answers: "....Software duplication is currently the number one application for disc publishing systems like Composer. Music, games, data, billing, imaging (medical, legal, etc.) and more are also very popular. Look for companies who need to produce small batches of CDs every day and frequently need to change or update the information. A typical user will produce from a few discs up to several hundred discs per day..."

Why spend $2495 for a Composer when I can offer my customer a $200 CD-R drive or a $1000 duplicating tower?
Primera answers: "...One word: automation. Composer uses robotics to reliably and consistently feed discs into and out of the Input Bin, CD-R recorder, printer and Output Bin. Most users will start up their Composer early in the morning or before leaving at night. When they return, 50 finished discs, recorded and printed, are waiting for them. Composer usually isn't sold to users who need only 3 or 4 discs a day. It is for those companies who need to produce 25, 50, 100, 1000 or more discs on a regular, weekly basis. .."

- Primera Signature III CD Printer:
"...Signature III is an ink-jet CD color printer. It combines the fastest print speed ever with the highest print resolution available in the world today: 1200 x 1200 dpi for a stunning 1.44 million pixels per square inch. A full -color CD with 100% coverage prints in just 68 seconds (in default 600 x 600 dpi print mode). Signature III features a new and improved ink formulation. Color gamut has been increased over 35%, delivering incredibly bright, bold and realistic colors. It also prints onto the widest variety of printable-surface media ever..."

- Supplied Package:
The package was all the nessecery stuff which someone would need in order to start a mini-cd duplication home factory (including CD printing option). In short words we got: the Composer CD duplicator, the Singature III CD printer, the printer stand-alone stand, the SCSI-kit -includes Advanasys Ultra SCSI controller, the parallel cable IEEE-1284 and last 50 Primera printable CD-R 74min media. The whole package costs according to the Primera's current price list about 4500$!

Test Machine:
WinMe/Win2k
Soyo 7VCA
Celeron II 566 over clocked to 850 MHz
128MB SDRAM PC 133
WD 18GB UDMA 66
Quantum Fireball EX 6.4GB
SCSI: DAWI 2975 - PCI (ULTRA)
ATI AIW 128
Scanner: HP 5300C
Sanyo CRD-BP4 firmware v4.31
Sanyo CRD-BP1400P firmware v5.31
Yamaha CRW2100E firmware v1.0h




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