Review: DYMO DiscPainter CD/DVD Printer - Macenstein

Review: DYMO DiscPainter CD/DVD Printer

In the beginning of the DVD era, it used used to be just handing your client a DVD with a Sharpie-written title on it was good enough. These days, however, it’s no longer enough that you were able to “magically” produce a stunning-looking HD video on your laptop, you now have to make the disc itself look as good as what’s on the inside. The problem is, as any video editor will tell you, making these one-off labels can sometimes be as time consuming as the edit itself, and they are something the client just expects, and assumes they won’t have to pay extra for (just try to add “1/2 hour label design” to each bill and see what happens).

Dymo DiscPainter

DYMO’s DiscPainter aims to step in and rescue professional editors and graphic artists from the burden of designing professional looking discs for their clients approval copies while still having time do the actual work. The DiscPainter is an extremely easy to use ink jet disc printer designed to do one thing – print full-color DVD and CD labels quickly, and for the most part it does it very well.

Dymo DiscPainter
Above: You’ll likely find you waste any time the DiscPainter saves you by watching the cool RadialPrintâ„¢ printing method.

The DiscPainter can handle pretty much any type of printable disc media, from standard matte finish and glossy white, to metallic discs (which look especially cool). It also supports hub-printable discs meaning you can print right to the center of the disc, which gives a much more professional look to the discs.


The biggest difference between conventional Inkejet printers that claim to print on CDs and DVDs and the DiscPainter is the manner in which the printing is done. Regular InkJets print on the discs in a back and forth motion, while dragging the printer across the media (like paper). The DiscPanter, however, employs a completely new way of printing dubber RadialPrintâ„¢. In this method, the disc spins at high speed while the ink is being applied from the center out. This method allows for full surface printing without a tray. It also looks extremely cool, and is so fun to watch that DYMO decided to build a window into the DiscPainter so you can watch the discs being printed. For a sped-up idea of what the process looks like, click here (actual printing time is between 2 -3 minutes a disc).

Dymo DiscPainter
Above: I printed a bunch of labels on various media types and settings. Overall, the colors were quite vibrant, even on matte finish discs. As you can see on the bottom row, the middle disc, printed on glossy stock, looked better than the matte disc to the left.

The other major difference between the DiscPainter and a conventional inkjet printer is the DiscPainter is a zero-hassle affair. I have an Epson Stylus 900 Photo that I bought a few years back for around $300 because it said it could print on DVDs and CDs. And while technically it DID, it was a major pain in the arse. First, it came with a special adapter tray you had to put the disc in, then you had to flick a lever in the rear of the printer to change the media type from “paper” to “disc”, then you had to open the actual printer cover and manually advance the tray to a certain point, then close the cover, move the lever in the rear up a notch, and then print the disc. Obviously, if you had to print 10 discs, you were pretty much cursing the thing. Print quality was OK, although relatively unsaturated and drab-looking. To top it off, one day ink got on the tray, then the rollers, and for the life of me I could not clean it off, meaning every disc I printed from that day forth had a black line going down the left side.

Dymo DiscPainter
Above: The Discus interface. I printed this design on the metallic disc stock, and it looked amazing (but photographed like crap due to the glare. But take my word.

Printing with the DiscPainter is pretty much as different as it gets. Simply open the lid, place your disc in the holder (it snaps in tightly), close the lid and hit “print” on your computer.

Making your label

In order to actually make your label, DYMO provides a slightly customized version of the Discuss DVD label designer software, ironically the same software which shipped with my Epson 900 all those years ago. I find the Discuss software is easy to use, but that could just be because I have experience with it. The interface is one of those odd consumery types that resembles no other graphic design or layout program you’ve encountered. The closest thing I can think of would be if anyone remembers the interface the 3D app Poser used, with lots of big icons, sliders and such. At times it seems clunky, or even confusing, which is odd given the clunkiness is obviously meant to make it appear more accessible
to Joe Blow, but once you figure out the basics, designing a brand new label from scratch will likely not take you more than 4-5 minutes. The software comes with a wide range of professional-looking backgrounds (as well as a bunch of decidedly non-professional looking ones), but be warned, these are ink gobblers, so odds are you may just want to come up with a black and white template with your company logo and some blanks to fill in such as runtime, date, version, and client info. If the client insists on a custom label, however, you can always import a JPG or image made in Photoshop for use as a background.

Dymo DiscPainter
Above: Another shot of the Discus interface.

Print quality

OK, so designing the labels is easy, and the act of printing is easy. So, how do the labels look? Well, pretty darn good for the most part. At Macenstein‘s lab, we happen to have a $1200 Rimage disc printing system hooked to one of those cool $3000 robotic arms that can automatically burn and print hundreds of DVDs for you, and suffice it to say, the print quality does not rival that. However, the DiscPainter does not embarrass itself either. I would say that for 1/5th the cost of the Rimage you are getting close to half the print quality, which is not bad at all.

Dymo DiscPainter
Above: The DiscPanter’s Print dialogue box offers very few options, basically all you need to worry about is choosing the right ink density based on the type of media you are printing on (DYMO provides a guide). Oh, and it keeps defaulting to “normal” quality so you’ll need to keep checking that if you are printing more than 1 disc.

Dymo DiscPainter
Above: This circular banding is visible on all DiscPainter discs if you are looking for it, but not nearly as noticeable on darker colored discs, and basically vanishes with a foot or two’s distance.


The major issue in quality I notice is there is a circular print banding that can be seen (and which is more noticeable on some designs than others) which is caused by the RadialPrintâ„¢ printing method of printing in a circular fashion. The pattern was less noticeable in darker labels, and really not noticeable at all on “text-only” discs. From a distance of about a foot or so, the pattern isn’t really noticeable at all unless you are really looking for it. Color-wise, the DiscPainter produced very vibrant colors, even on matte discs (glossy discs do provide much richer colors, but at a price). I also found that the colors seemed to run towards the pink side slightly. This was especially noticeable when printing photos on the disc where people’s skin colors could be compared.

One thing to keep in mind with the DiscPainter, like all printers, is that the real cost of ownership is the ink. The DiscPainter runs about $40 a color cartridge (there is no separate black cartridge) so depending on how often you print or how ink-intensive your labels are, this might be more of an issue. DYMO estimates you can get about 100 full-color discs per cartridge, and of course many times that for text/logo-only discs.

Dymo DiscPainter
Above: The disc on the left is from the DiscPainter, the one on the right is from a $1200 Rimage system. The Rimage produces more accurate skin tones, but cost nearly 5x as much.


DYMO’s DiscPainter is the answer to many a video editor’s dream. It delivers an affordable way to deliver high-quality, one-off labels to clients without wasting valuable production time. While not able to deliver the quality of a professional printer, it costs 1/5th the price of the big boys, and the speed, ease of use, and overall impressive-looking labels will meet most small to mid-sized video and design firm’s needs when delivering approval copies of projects to clients.

Dymo DiscPainter

Price: As low as $219 online
Pros: Fast, easy to use, Above average print quality, supports hub printing and multiple media types
Cons: Some circular banding can be seen, more noticeable on some designs than others, a slight lean towards red in the hue

3 Responses to “Review: DYMO DiscPainter CD/DVD Printer”
  1. Javier says:

    For a non-professional like me, it looks awesome!

  2. dennyg says:

    I had one and tried everything but the “banding” just made it look cheap. I returned the unit and got a refund. Every nozzle cleaning revealed another nozzle plugged. Never could get them all working at once – tried four different cartridges.


  3. I have to agree about the banding problem. I have one of these as well (purchased in February) and I found that if the unit sat idle for a couple of days the print quality was atrocious, necessitating a lot of cleaning. I was very excited when I first saw the DiscPainter but I’ve gone back to Lightscribe discs due to the quality, in spite of the way-too-long labeling time. The DiscPainter has promise, and when it’s printing well the discs do look pretty nice. Replacing the cartridge helps when cleaning fails to improve quality, but that gets expensive quickly. For the overall cost of the unit, the cost of the ink cartridges, and the uneven print quality I give this one a “Skip It”. Better luck next time Dymo.

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