Wednesday, April 07, 2010

CD Labeling Software

For the remaining 12 minutes that CD's are around, I intend to label my mixes when I make them.  I have for over 10 years, so why stop now?  It makes my creations look more professional.  And purty.

So, when my CD labeling software would no longer work with Windows Vista or 7, I went online to see what reviewers judged to be the best software.  The pickings were slim, and the opinions I did see did not appear to be completely unbiased; in the end, there really aren't good reviews of this kind of software.

Hmmm... what to do?  The answer seemed obvious:  I'll just test them out myself.  

My criteria is pretty straightforward:
  1. Ability to read information off CD's automatically
  2. Ease of use
  3. Flexibility of printing options
  4. Graphic options
  5. Text options
  6. Amount of pre-loaded backgrounds
Our guinea pigs are as follows:
  1. Acoustica CD Label Maker
  2. AMF CD and DVD Label Maker
  3. CyberLink Label Maker
  4. Dataland CD Label Designer 
  5. Discus
  6. Disketch CD Label Software
  7. Droppix Label Maker
  8. Easy CD and DVD Cover Creator
  9. Kronen Design
  10. MediaFACE CD Label Creator
  11. Roxio Easy CD Label Creator
  12. SureThing CD Creator
I've been using SureThing for the last few years, and have used MediaFACE, Roxio, and Easy CD in the past.  Now, I could completely demo each one... but who wants to spend 30 days with every piece of software?  I'm just too lazy.  Let's see if I can thin the field here. 
1. Ability to read information off CD's automatically

This is a simple pass/fail test:  if the software can't even do this, it's inevitably got a lot of other issues I'll find out about later.  For this, I used the 2008 Snilch Report Hits (Volume 1) and the 2009 Snilch Report Favorites (Volume 2).  (And to those promised these discs -- yes, they are now finally moving into production.)  The former was burned with Roxio's Easy Media Creator and the latter straight from iTunes.

  • Acoustica
  • AMF
  • Droppix
  • Roxio
  • SureThing
  • CyberLink Label Maker
  • Dataland CD Label Designer (which was complicated without being flexible or robust)
  • Discus
  • Disktech (which was was easy to use but it is not robust at all)
  • Easy CD (which was very limited) 
  • Kronen Design
  • MediaFACE (which was a shock)

And then there were five.

2. Ease of use
3. Flexibility of printing options

Very easy to use:  Acoustica, AMF.  All pass here, but Roxio just barely.

Flexibility:  Acoustica has lots of options here, although it's unclear from the demo exactly how easy it would be to duplicate label images to fit certain templates.  Droppix and Sure Thing all have plenty of options; AMF has fewer but passes.

Roxio, however, does not.  It's already lagging behind, and clearly has issues moving forward; so we'll cut our losses here.
4. Graphic options
Acoustica is limited, but passes here.  Droppix and Sure Thing have lots of easily accessible options.

AMF is extremely intuitive and easy to use... but that's partially because your options are so limited.  This is your stop, AMF.

And then there were three.

5. Text options

Ease of use extends to text options for Acoustica.  Droppix seems to be limited in terms of templates, but that just may be the fact that this is a trial.  Lots of LiteScribe options, though.  Sure Thing cruises through.
6. Amount of pre-loaded backgrounds

Acoustica has a very limited number of pre-loaded backgrounds, although you can download a lot more from their website for free.  However, it will cost you a $10 each for the six sets of the coolest art they have.  FAIL.

Sure Thing and Droppix have a ton of cool options.  They both look good.

Conclusions:  For overall robustness, flexibility, and ease of use, both Droppix and Sure Thing are great choices.  Sure Thing runs at $24.95 for a download, $29.99 for a physical disc; Droppix costs the same for a download but an extra six bucks for the physical disc.  You can't really go wrong either way.  I will ultimately choose Sure Thing, as it's the one "big name" (i.e., company that's been around for ten years) that's fully featured and looks to be around for at least another five.

It's all so simple when you go to the tale of the tape....

- Snilch