Field Test: Primera Bravo SE Disc Duplicator

May 1, 2007 12:00 PM, By Rick Spence

COMPACT, MEDIUM-DUTY PUBLISHER FOR MAC OR PC

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The Bravo SE is a compact, small-run duplicator capable of burning and direct-to-disc printing (4,800 dpi) of up to 20 discs at a time. Primera has a full line of duplicators for publishing large jobs, but the SE is the company's most affordable product and perfect for those looking to produce small to medium runs. Keeping up with the latest media, Bravo SE is offered in both CD/DVD and Blu-ray disc versions (the latter for PC only). The SE is bundled with PTPublisher SureThing CD label software for PC (including Windows Vista) and CharisMac Engineering's Discribe Mac software for creating labels and running duplication jobs.

SMALL FOOTPRINT AND A WIZARD

At just 11.5 pounds and 15×14.75×7 inches, the Bravo SE is compact enough to sit on top of a JBL 4408A monitor. That just happened to be the most convenient spot to place it when I opened the box and that's where it stayed during the test. The Bravo SE is fairly quiet and doesn't shimmy much when printing, so it was never in peril of falling off its convenient perch.

New with the Bravo SE is a software wizard that can walk anyone through the process of a duplication job. The burning software is powered by the Sonic Solutions engine and is similar to Sonic's MyDVD Roxio product in terms of workflow. The PC bundle was easy to use and set up. I ran it on a dual-core AMD 4400 Athlon PC with 2 GB of memory running Windows XP and a 1.7GHz Pentium 4 system with 2 GB of memory running XP.

The interface has friendly prompts and big buttons that couldn't be much simpler. You can navigate the decision tree and move ahead, burning any number of CD and DVD projects, including data, audio, video and ISO image files. The label maker, Sure Thing, stands alone and has to be closed before proceeding with a duplication job, a step I would like to see eliminated. However, integration with the wizard is fairly seamless and should be helpful to anyone new to using a duplicator, which I imagine would be a significant number of Bravo SE buyers.

HOW'S THE QC?

During my tests, I produced several batches of CDs and DVDs with very good results. I did have one disc jam, in which the robotic arm did not place the disc perfectly, causing the unit to stop working. I aborted the job, rebooted and everything was back to normal.

For subsequent jobs, I could leave it unattended and return to an output bin full of 20 discs. The trusty unit made it easy to finish a mix, grab lunch during a duplication job and then send discs to clients. This can be a real time-saver for anyone who frequently provides small batches of discs for client approval when sharing FTP data is impractical or when a physical proof is required.

Bravo SE's burn and print quality is very good. I used a wide range of consumer and professional gear, and experienced no playback errors. Using the new WaterShield media available from Taiyo Yuden yielded great-looking glossy discs that did not smear. Inkjet-based duplicators, such as the Bravo SE, combined with this type of media can yield an impressive and professional product at a reasonable price.

MAKING LIFE EASIER

The Bravo SE is targeted at those looking to make small but professional-looking CD/DVD/Blu-ray disc runs and looking to offer a little added value for clients. This is definitely a unit that a small studio or production house could get into without breaking the bank.

If you're looking for a Blu-ray disc publisher, two issues may hold you back from purchasing the SE. First, it is only PC-compatible for now. Secondly, TDK and Imation are the only manufacturers that offer a single-layer 25GB disc that is inkjet-printable, yet this disc was unavailable on Primera's Website.

The audio never failed during the runs I made and the print quality is great, especially when used with the Taiyo Yuden WaterShield discs. I would consider this essential as other media used with an inkjet printer takes more time to dry and can look “runny.” The SE uses a single inkjet cartridge priced less than $40 and Primera promises a run of 100 to 130 discs before you'll need to open your wallet.

I only had the Bravo SE for a short time and can't speak for its long-term durability, but I can say that this unit was easy to use and reliable during my tests. The results that can be achieved with a small-footprint duplicator like the Bravo SE make this a worthwhile purchase for anyone seeking professional-looking, reliable, small-run duplication. If you only need 4,800 dpi disc printing, the Bravo SE is also available without drives. Prices: AutoPrinter, $995; CD/DVD, $1,495; and Blu-ray, $2,995.

Primera, 800/797-2772, 763/475-6776, www.primera.com.


Rick Spence is the owner of AVT Pro, a production company in the Silicon Valley.



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