The world of disc publishing systems is a lot like the menu at Taco Bell; yep I said it, Taco Bell, where the same ingredients are used to make a variety of different products. The difference, of course, is all in the presentation. Disc publishers work on much the same principle. They all contain the standard ingredients of a DVD/CD Duplicator, a DVD/CD printer, and a robotic arm in some manner. Rimage took these key elements and mixed them up into the appetizing 360i Publisher. The Rimage 360i has been around a long time but this is actually the first time I have spent some quality time with it.
Perhaps the most noticeable feature of the 360i is its impressive stature: it's a good 19 inches tall. This vertical layout of the components is clever because it allows the 360i to keep its footprint to a minimum. The brains of the unit are protected by its white plastic shell, which sports a distinctive rounded window over the input bin. In fact it bears a striking resemblance to HAL's glowing eye from 2001: A Space Odyssey, aside from the obvious color difference. Don't let the blue orb fool you; this machine is not going to kill you. It's going to simplify the process of burning and printing CD's and DVD's dramatically.
Starting from the top, the purpose of the blue orb becomes clear, or better yet “transparent:” you can look through to see how many discs are loaded in the input bin. The 25-disc capacity seems well suited to the size of the machine. A disc loaded into the input bin begins its journey by dropping down into the burner tray. From here the Plextor DVD/CD combination drive is ready to produce copy after copy of your data. When completed, the robotic arm descends to pick the disc up and move it to the printer.
The built-in DVD/CD inkjet printer is in a class of its own. With a maximum resolution of 4800dpi, the quality of the print is amazing. Built on the proven HP print engine, there are separate black and color ink cartridges for a full spectrum of colors and true blacks. An optional photo cartridge can be inserted instead of the black to provide rich 6-color printing. If the high-resolution inkjet printer with HP technology is the crunchy taco, the impressive speed and reliability of the printer are the tomatoes and sour cream that make it “supreme.” Full-coverage color prints are completed 50% faster per disc than with the leading competitor's printer.
When the printer has finished, the robotic arm carefully picks up the disc and lowers it to the output bin, where it can be removed. This simple feature of removing completed discs without stopping is something that other inkjet publishers do not have and can be a big time-saver when packaging or inserting large jobs.
If all that sounds satisfying, the Pièce de résistance is the software that comes with the 360i. Rimage's publishing software was developed specifically for these machines, and not adapted to them as an afterthought. This novel idea means that things work smoothly out of the box for both burning jobs and printing discs. “Ah Simplicity, isn't that what everybody wants?”