Buying a DVD duplicator is a major purchase and it is important to make sure your decision between PC-based or stand-alone is a well-informed one. In this case it is not as simple as selecting the most expensive or inexpensive machine, but the one that will best meet your current and future duplication needs. Start by making a list of your needs. How many discs do you need per month? Per week? Per year? Do you need CD duplication, DVD duplication, or both? Is burn-only good enough or do you need a printing system too? And of course, do you want to manually load discs or have an autoloading robotic duplicator do everything without supervision? With these questions in mind, let's take a look at some of the fundamental differences between PC-based and stand-alone DVD duplicators.
The first thing about stand-alone DVD duplicators is that they have been on the market much longer than PC-based duplicators. Therefore, a certain standard of reliability has been achieved with these "tower-style" duplicators. Their sole function is to make high volume copies of CD and DVD discs, which they can do very well. A modern duplicator typically includes one to eleven DVD/CD combo recorder drives, a reader drive, a hard disk drive for storing disc images, and a controller with an LCD for operating the unit. Each component piece does a simple function, but all together they get the job done.
Setting up a stand-alone duplicator is quick and easy, since they come with little more than a power cord and a user manual to get you started. Because stand-alone duplicators often come in a tower configuration (much like a computer tower) they occupy very little shelf space and are easy to move. The initial investment is much lower than a PC-based publisher, which makes it ideal for jobs where duplication is more important than printing. A machine like an Accutower 11 Drive stand-alone DVD/CD duplicator is built for speed and can reliably and consistently copy up to 100 or more discs per hour!
While PC-based DVD duplicators are not brand new, they are 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. Adding a robotic arm to a duplicator/printer takes the tedious work out of DVD publishing because the machine can load and unload itself, so you can be free to work on other projects while it is running.
The setup of a PC-based duplicator has been simplified greatly since the first models appeared several years ago. Integrated motherboards and operating systems mean that only a few connections are necessary, such as the power, keyboard, video, and mouse. 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. This also affords the user the convenience to design discs at the same machine where they will be printed, without the hassle of transferring files from one workstation to another. One important area in which PC-based systems lag behind stand-alone systems is the speed and volume with which discs can be duplicated. Because most PC-based systems offer one to four burning drives, output is considerably less when compared with an eleven-drive stand-alone duplicator tower.
With these things in mind, the decision of which type of duplicator is superior depends entirely on the user's needs. Churches and groups who do small, weekly jobs and do not require full-color prints may be satisfied with a low-cost stand-alone DVD duplicator. Small businesses and organizations that need medium and large volume jobs with automated, full-color printing and burning may find the answer they need in a PC-based DVD duplicator system. The features, benefits, and costs of a DVD duplicator can have a big impact on the end user's satisfaction with the machine, so choose wisely!