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Hi Ho, Silver Disc! Verbatim Introduces New DataLifePlus CD-Recordable Media

To differentiate its products in what is fast becoming a commodity market, Verbatim Corporation is introducing its new DataLifePlus CD-Recordable media. Manufactured by Verbatim’s Japanese parent company, Mitsubishi Chemical Company in their combined Singapore production facility, DataLifePlus are the first CD-R discs using a lower cost silver alloy reflective layer.


Hi Ho, Silver Disc! Verbatim Introduces New DataLifePlus CD-Recordable Media

Hugh Bennett
CD-ROM Professional, February 1996

To differentiate its products in what is fast becoming a commodity market, Verbatim Corporation is introducing its new DataLifePlus CD-Recordable media. Manufactured by Verbatim’s Japanese parent company, Mitsubishi Chemical Company in their combined Singapore production facility, DataLifePlus are the first CD-R discs using a lower cost silver alloy reflective layer.

The use of silver gives the disc a very distinctive appearance with the reflector side being matte off-white in color and the recording side being a startling deep blue. In addition to its visual novelty, the cost reductions associated with using silver provide additional margin and help offset the expense of other features used for achieving greater product differentiation.

Print and Protect
Other unique features of the DataLifePlus CD-R disc are its combined durability layer and fully printable surface. Manufacturers such as Eastman Kodak and MTC America/Mitsui Toatsu Chemicals offer printable surfaces and durability layers on separate products, but this is the first time a printable surface and a durability layer have been combined on a single disc.

Durability coatings help protect the disc’s data layer by providing a surface that is more tolerant to abrasions, scratches, and delamination. Reducing wear contributes greatly to overall disc longevity.

DataLifePlus’s printable surface is attractive to the growing market of users wanting to give their recorded discs a more professional appearance. A special coating allows ink from CD-Recordable desktop printers to adhere to the disc’s surface. Verbatim indicates compatibility with black-and-white and color inkjet and thermal printers from companies such as Trace Mountain, Craig Associates International (CAI) and Rimage Corporation.

Although printable discs are available from other disc manufacturers, the DataLifePlus has the unique advantage of its silver alloy reflective layer which produces a more predictable and pleasing appearance according to many who have tested the disc. Steven Shray, vice president of duplication system developer MicroTech Conversion Systems based in Palo Alto, California, says he is very pleased with his results because, “the print quality is impressive since the silver matte finish gives the disc an almost white appearance for good contrast and doesn’t create color shifts as happens with some gold discs when printing yellows and reds.” Shray also notes the DataLifePlus discs he tested “did a good job of controlling edge bleeding so the image or text edges stay sharp and defined.”

Recorder Compatibility
When a CD-Recordable disc as different as the DataLifePlus is introduced, an inevitable question raised is its recording and interchange compatibility with existing and future recording systems and CD-ROM drives. Verbatim sells the DataLifePlus with their “Multispeed” branding and say they have verified compatibility at 1X, 2X, and 4X recording speeds with Hewlett-Packard, Sony, Philips, Yamaha, Ricoh, JVC, Pioneer, Pinnacle Micro, and other recorders.

Like the early cyanine dye formulations used by Taiyo Yuden and others that were only suitable for single and double speed recording, early metalized azo compounds used by Mitsubishi/Verbatim had difficulty with higher speed recording. However, with the DataLifePlus, Verbatim says they have sufficiently modified the azo dye chemistry for compatibility with even 4X recorders, although independent verification from the industry has not yet been obtained.

The Only Game in Town?
If Verbatim’s claims are true and silver offers advantages over gold in certain situations, will other manufacturers rush to introduce similar discs? While it is no secret that other companies are continually investigating the possible use of alternative materials such as silver and copper, do not expect to see silver reflector discs from anyone else very soon, unless they are Mitsubishi products.

Currently, many of Verbatim’s competitors do not believe Mitsubishi/Verbatim can manufacturer enough DataLifePlus discs to make a major impact upon the exploding market, and if that is so, then it would make little economic sense to offer equivalent products. Similarly, many of the manufacturers are addressing concerns such as the color shift problems exhibited by printable gold discs through less radical means such as the matte and white surfaces offered by TDK Electronics.

There may also be more fundamental reasons why Mitsubishi/Verbatim may be the first and only company using silver for a while. Some technical sources point to possibly unwelcome reactions which may occur between silver and the current cyanine and phthalocyanine dye formulations used by the industry.

Live and Let Dye
Judging by all of the recent online and press discussions, CD-Recordable media longevity is a hot topic these days. Verbatim’s published test data indicates little or no increase in BLER (Block Error Rate) when DataLifePlus discs are subjected to 1,500 hours of incubation at 80C/85% RH and exhibit similarly impressive performance when in Xenon light fastness testing over 600 hours. As a result of their accelerated aging tests, Verbatim projects a life of over 100 years and offers a lifetime warranty on the media to be free from defects in materials and workmanship.

Due to the newness of the discs, independent verification of Verbatim’s claims is still insufficient, but there is general industry agreement that the metalized azo used is the most stable of the current dye formulations and more light fast than either cyanine or phthalocyanine-based compounds. The biggest question is likely to be the keeping properties of the disc’s silver reflective layer – alloyed most likely with palladium, iridium, or platinum – and how that will affect overall disc longevity.

Other Attractions
Another attraction of the DataLifePlus disc is for resellers, distributors and end-users alike. Since Verbatim has combined what were two discs with printability and durability into a single SKU, there is no need to stock multiple products, no customer choice and, therefore, more sales, less confusion and product returns.

This new media is available as Verbatim Branded DataLifePlus in 1, 2, or 5 pack retail sleeves, as well as blank surface individual generic or bulk 100 disc packages. Prices are anticipated to be 2% more than existing CD-R disc prices.

(Verbatim Corporation,1200 W.T. Harris Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28262; 800/759-3475 or Fax 704/547-6767)

Copyright © Online Inc. / Hugh Bennett

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