A major difference in disc duplicators is whether they are PC-based or standalone.
Standalone duplicators have been on the market much longer than PC based ones. Therefore, a certain standard of reliability has been achieved with these “tower style” duplicators. Their sole function is to make high volume copies of discs, which they can do very well. A modern duplicator typically includes 1-11 CD/DVD combo recorder drives, a reader drive, a hard disk drive for storing disc images, and a controller with LCD screen for operating the unit.
Setting up a standalone duplicator is quick and easy since they are little more than a power cord and a user manual to get you started. Because standalone duplicators often come in a tower configuration (like a computer tower), they occupy very little shelf space and are easy to move. Initial investment is much lower than a PC based publisher, which makes it ideal for jobs where duplication is more important than printing.
While PC based duplicators are not new to the market, they’re beginning to gain ground with consumers. Think of a PC based system as an all-in-one, deluxe unit; a complete disc printing and burning (publishing) system. The footprint of a PC based system is typically larger and wider due to a platform, or base, which supports the robotic arm assembly.
The setup of a PC based duplicator has been simplified greatly since the first models appeared years ago. Integrated motherboards and operating systems mean that only a few connections are necessary, such as the power, keyboard, video, and mouse components. With a built in PC, you can run duplication and/or print jobs on the machine without tying up your regular computer, saving you time and hassle. This also affords the user the convenience to design discs at the same machine where they will be printed without needing to transfer work files from one place to another.
One important area in which PC-based systems lag behind standalone systems is the speed and volume of discs that can be duplicated. Most PC based systems offer 1-4 burning drives, which is considerably less than the 11 drive standalone duplicator tower.
With this in mind, choose the duplicator type that suits your needs. Churches and small groups who do small, weekly jobs and do not require full color prints may be satisfied with a low cost standalone duplicator. Small businesses and organizations that need medium to large volume prints with automated, full color printing and burning may find that a PC based system suits them better.