REVIEW: PRIMERA'S BRAVO SE BLU DISC DUPLICATOR
PRODUCT: Primera Bravo SE Blu Disc Duplicator
PRICE: $2,995 MSRP, check Website for promotions
- Blu-ray video and data burning for PC and Mac
- Set and forget automated loading coupled with in-line printing
- Affordable alternative to expensive set-up costs of replication
Just in time for Blu-ray’s ascension to the next generation DVD throne, Primera is out with its disc duplicator, the Blu-ray-capable Bravo SE Blu. At Giant Interactive’s New York studio, we were lucky enough to get our hands on a loaner and put it through its paces on a few of our recent Blu-ray projects.
Sporting a respectable Blu-ray burner (the Matsushita BD-MLT SW-5582), the Bravo SE Blu is an all-in-one burner with an in-line disc printer. It has a nifty robot arm that picks up blanks from a stack and runs them through the burn/print process, allowing it to run as many as 20 copies unattended. It is capable of burning CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray media. Weighing in at 11.5 pounds and with a relatively small footprint of 15x14.75x7 inches, it is ideal for light duty disc duplication.
While the product works with Macs, for our evaluation we connected the unit to a Windows PC (Windows XP Professional SP 2; Pentium D 2.80GHz; 1GB RAM) via one of the front USB2 ports.
EASY TO USE
Out of the box, the Bravo SE comes bundled with all the software needed. Included is PTPublisher SE — a Sonic Solutions-powered burning/printing application — and SureThing CD Labeler Primera Edition 5 —a label design application.
Installation of the drivers and software was relatively painless. Of note was that we had to run the disc burning/printing application as an administrator. Not exactly sure why that was, but it did mean a change in protocol as that does not usually allow production machines to run in administrator mode.
Using PTPublisher, the first thing we burned was a 7.49GB BD-R data disc. It took 17:17 minutes. Although the tech specs say the unit burns at 2X speed on BD-R DL, judging from the time it took to burn, it seemed to indicate it was actually running at 4X speed. Printing a four-color label on it with 100 coverage coverage took an additional 2:02 minutes.
Initially we were a little confused as to how to set the specifications for a Blu-ray video burn in the PTPublisher software provided. The default is to create data discs, and it took us a little searching to find the setting to change that to burn a Blu-ray video disc — a UDF 2.50 BD-R HDMV disc that would play back in a set-top player. Once that was sorted out, we burned a 7.49GB UDF 2.50 BD-R HDMV disc in 33:27 minutes, (meaning it ran at 2X speed). That disc played back in a Sony PS3, a Sony BDP-301, and a Samsung BD-P1200 without incident.
With pure colors, good coverage and printing as fast, if not faster than other disc printers we’ve used, we all agreed the printing aspect was excellent. At 4,800 dpi print resolution and 16.7 million colors, the images were crisp, the details excellent and colors rich and deep. Next we tried printing some discs from an Adobe Photoshop file. No problems, but the EPS templates had to be pulled off the Mac portion of the install disc.
The only drawback we encountered was that taking advantage of the robot arm and the inline burn/print automation function required the use of the bundled PTPublisher. So if you prefer to use an alternative disc burning application, say Nero or Media Creator, you can, but it will only work to burn one-offs and it will not control the automated burn/print functions of the unit.
Replacement cartridges for the SE Blu run $39.99 and should print approximately 130 to 150 discs — meaning a cost of $.25 to $.30 per printed disc. A “high yield” cartridge is also available. It lists for $47.95, but a quick check online showed prices closer to $42.00. Although we did not test it, with the high yield cartridge we were told to expect to print 200 to 250 full coverage discs, representing a significantly lower per disc cost of $.17 to $.22.
Blu-ray recordable media comes in two configurations, a single layer BD-R 25 with a capacity of 25GB (which translates to a capacity of 23.1GBs of computer files), and the dual layer BD-R 50 with a capacity of 50GB (which translates to capacity 46.61GBs of computer files).
As of this writing, BD-R 25 could be found as low as $10 and BD-50s as low as $22. As was the case with DVD-R media, we expect these prices to drift down as more companies begin manufacturing the media.
The Primera Bravo SE Disc Duplicator is definitely a useful addition to any facility requiring Blu-ray duplication and printing in one pass. The combination of automated loading and inline printing makes it a solid tool for small runs of CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays. The TED conference came to us recently wishing to create a four-disc BD video set of their 2008 conference. They needed 50 sets. With the high set-up costs, replication was prohibitably expensive for such a short run. The Bravo SE Blu is perfect for these kinds of low volume jobs.
David Anthony is a Managing Partner with NYC's Giant Interactive (www.giant-interactive.com).