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Microboards DSR DVD-D8810 Duplicator
Posted Dec 1, 2004 - May 1998 [Volume 7, Issue 6] Issue Print Version     Page 1of 2 next »
  

While more and more videographers have discovered the creative possibilities of DVD authoring software, many still haven't taken the next step towards in-house DVD production. They rely on outsourcing for their disc-duplication needs, or instead try to copy discs one at a time on whatever DVD burner came with their workstation. Outsourcing may relieve some of the workload, but it can also add significant expense, not to mention the inconvenience of trying to squeeze a short run into a service bureau's schedule. Copying discs one at a time works when a client only wants a couple of discs. But what about events with audiences that demand dozens or even hundreds of discs?


That's where standalone duplicators come into play. Due to a vigorous and competitive market in recent years, DVD duplicators have increased in the number of drives that they offer while decreasing in price. Microboards' DSR DVD-D8810 offers 1-to-10 CD/DVD duplication for less than $2,500. It may not be cheap, but there's no arguing with the duplicator's near-flawless performance, built-in hard drive, and stylish exterior. It's a fine addition to the long tradition of top-notch standalone duplication towers produced by Microboards and their Japanese manufacturing partner, Hoei Sangyo.

Our testing has shown that most any studio that delivers DVDs in runs of 10 or more could realize both cost and time savings by adding a DVD-D8810 1-to-10 CD/DVD duplicator to their arsenal and bringing DVD production in-house. And the Microboards DSR DVD-D8810 fits the bill as well as any.

An Out-of-Box Experience
Every time a new package arrives at the EMedia/EventDV editorial office, it's like Christmas all over again. Boxes big and small arrive at our doorstep, filling the office with anticipation. And just like Christmas morning underneath the tree, the bigger the box, the wider our eyes get. Needless to say, the DVD-D8810 requires quite a large box. At the same time, its footprint doesn't take up that much more space than a tower PC. That said, it wouldn't fit underneath most desks, and you should really have someone there to help you get it out of the box because the thing ain't light.

The duplicator's exterior would fit well into any studio equipped with other modern equipment, if style is a concern. Its dull silver exterior and black facing don't stand out as much as the brushed steel or aluminum that many other tower duplicators feature, nor is it as sterile as white. The unit's green LCD screen is readable, but it doesn't exactly beam out its messages; you still have to bend down to see what it says. To bring the screen to eye level and make the drives at the bottom of the tower more reachable, consider raising the DVD-D8810 up slightly with a sturdy bench or even cinder blocks.

Usability
The DVD-D8810 packs a surprisingly large number of features and settings into an interface that only has two buttons. But they accompany this complexity with a comprehensive user's manual that walks users through all of the functions that the tower can accomplish, which include Copy, Simulation, Registering Data to the Hard Drive, and Track Extraction—all of the usual suspects that you'd expect in a tower duplicator with a built-in hard drive.

The DVD-D8810's hard drive features 80GB of space for staging and storing disc images and individual audio tracks. The drive is split up into ten partitions, allowing for ten DVD disc images to be saved (you can also store 10 CD images there, though that's obviously a less efficient use of the space). The hard drive's first partition is allocated for audio track extraction; you can save disc images to it, but if you want to extract tracks and there's information already stored in the first partition, the duplicator will request that you delete everything that's in that partition. I found this to be somewhat limiting, although no more than a minor nuisance, unless you're in the habit of storing disc images long term. (The first partition's logjam grows if you choose to add the USB 2.0 feature to your unit, and enlist it for storing images built on your PC. This application also uses that first partition exclusively. It would be nice if these designations weren't so hard and fast, allowing users to copy to and from any of the partitions any time they want to.)

While you won't be able to manage tracks once they're registered to the hard drive, getting the tracks extracted and back onto CD couldn't be simpler via the two-button interface, which is how it should be. Standalone duplicators are dedicated to one task and one task alone, copying CDs and DVDs. So the workflow should be as straightforward as possible. For the most part, the DVD-D8810 holds true to this, although not entirely.

When you want to erase data from a partition in the hard drive, you're led through a series of menus that end with one that reads ">HDD1? (DISC TO HDD1)." What the machine is asking is if you want to register another master to the hard drive. During testing, we didn't realize this until it was too late. Once you instruct the tower to start on a task, there's no stopping it. We didn't have to wait long, but it seemed unnecessary to have to sit there until the DVD-D8810 finished what it was doing. Also, you need to be careful about closely following the workflow laid out in the manual. If you press a button or insert a disc at the incorrect time, you'll find yourself walking through the same steps more than once.



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