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Cedar Desktop CD-R Publisher 1000

Joshua McDaniel

Cedar Desktop CD-R Publisher 1000
synopsis: You figure when you get a gorgeous piece of hardware like Cedar's Desktop CD-R Publisher, that you'll spend the entire review talking only about machine proper. There's much to say about the dual Plextor 8X drives, and the robotic arm that brings blank media to its destiny. Then you talk about the Primera Signature III printer that puts a Cadillac finish on your CD. To round it out, you talk a little about feeling like the commander of an intergalactic craft when the unit's in motion, and how you turned around to smile and wave to an imaginary camera, just like the shuttle people do. But you can't really do any of these things without the software, and with Prassi's Primo CD, Cedar has made exactly the right choice.

price: $8,285

Cedar Technologies, Inc.
7667 Cahill Road, Suite 250
Edina, MN 55439 USA
612/830-1993
Fax 612/830-1039
http://www.cedartechnologies.com

June 2000 | A friend of mine recently traveled to Seattle to document the WTO demonstrations, and while there, he happened across all the events we heard about on the news. He brought me a picture of the NikeTown siege that I now keep on my corkboard: the photograph is of a blurry person kicking NikeTown, to the apparent end of knocking their marquee to the street.

I'm guessing most of us sympathize with the lone person who stood against a tank in Tiananmen Square, as well as the four students who lay dead on the campus of Kent State. Similarly, one might deduce that I keep the NikeTown assault photograph around because I sympathize. A reasonable guess, to be sure, until we look very closely at the photograph in question: the feet performing the Tae Bo of Justice on NikeTown are wearing Nikes. That's why I keep that photograph around.

Only the unrecognizable shoe would keep me from hanging on to that photograph, now that I've had it awhile. Would a Reebok or a Converse or even a Doc Marten preclude the irony? No, hell no: it would only reinscribe the fact that we're letting huge companies who could care less about our arches, let alone our lives or environment, encase our feet with their product. Of course, I say this with a recognized brand strapped to my ankle...what's my alternative? Make my own, designed precisely according to the mandates of my tarsals? In principle, I ought to.

I get to thinking about principle as I look at the Cedar Desktop Publisher 1000. Given what this piece of machinery costs ($8,295 for this two-drive + robot + printer + software configuration), there is absolutely no sense in shipping duplication jobs off to a shop. If you can put a price on the tenderness you'd show your short-run projects and find it less cost-effective than shipping your project to a plant, then I'd say you've got a little thinking to do about your data. Whether or not it was in the DTP1000's blueprint, this machine's primary function is to enable integrity and care, something I miss in this world of letting someone else tend to my stuff.

And now, thanks to Cedar's recent acquisition by Rimage--who swears they'll keep the product's integrity intact [see sidebar at end--Ed.]--its enabling power should grow only stronger, as the CD production juggernaut places its substantial weight behind the Cedar DTP family's inclusive imprimatur.

skinny legs and al

l I got a laugh from the UPS man when he dropped the Cedar unit off at my pad: he's seen first hand the space I have to work with here, and it doesn't exactly accommodate the kinds of boxes he brought to me that early morning. As it happens though, we were both very wrong in what we envisioned coming out of these boxes. On this tiny five- by four-foot desk, I'm able to fit my CPU, fax, monitor, keyboard, trackball, and telephone without interfering with the function of the DTP 1000, there on its tiny corner. Totally astounding, totally. I've got it working on ten colorfully labeled copies of Josh's Party Mix 2000 as I write this. Imagine your fax machine halved; that's the kind of room you need to accommodate this thing. It does go upwards a little, and your desk may get to looking like Manhattan in miniature, complete with odd odors once the DTP 1000 is in motion, but there are probably worse things.

From the moment I opened the boxes, it took me a little over 30 minutes to put the operation together, duplicator, printer, cables, software, and all. You make a very quick movement from setting the CD printer atop the duplicating machine proper, to running a 50-pin SCSI cable between ports on your CPU and the duplicator, to running a parallel cable between ports on your CPU and the CD printer, to connecting a simple DIN cable between the duplicator and printer, to powering up. At this point, all that's left is to install the included software on your machine, and that's where the joy begins.

the primo principle

You figure when you get a gorgeous piece of hardware like this that you'll spend the entire review talking only about machine proper. There's much to say about the dual Plextor 8X drives that do your duping, and the robotic arm that brings blank media to its destiny. Then you'll talk about the Primera Signature III printer that puts a Cadillac finish on your CD, as good or better than a silk screen. Then, to round it out, you talk a little about feeling like the commander of an intergalactic craft when the unit's in motion, and how you turned around to smile and wave to an imaginary camera, just like the shuttle people do. Finally you strike that last part from your review because you might have inhaled too much fried metal azo that day. The thing is, you can't really do any of these things without the software, and with Prassi's Primo CD, Cedar has made exactly the right choice.

You can't keep a good group down, let's take a lesson: all powered up on the hardware end, you'll install a version of Primo CD--the very same quality you're used to from the old stateside Prassi--built exactly for Cedar's machine. This particular Primo CD features a clean interface devoid of wizards and cartoons. It's divided into thirds: one third displays all of your drives (both the ones hanging from your mainboard and the Plextors in the Cedar), another third details the progress of the particular job at hand, and the last third contains information about the final results of your project. Primo CD is no Nero when it comes to fully configurable modes and methods of writing--you can't have your machine ignore an illegal TOC or anything--but since we're probably not deviating the protection scheme of a Playstation disc here, that's all right.

From within Primo CD for Cedar, you can define a host of tasks for the DTP1000, all of which will be performed automatically. For example, using the "Stream Job" function, you can request ten copies each of three different masters, load the input bin accordingly (in this instance, you'd set each master atop ten blanks, then atop that group another ten blanks and another master, and so on), and hit record. Then you can go to the bar for a couple rounds, and by the time you return you'll have 30 neatly labeled copies and their respective masters in the out bin. Just as we're beginning to relax there at the bar, though, we'll start to wonder: what's going to happen if the DTP1000 finds a bad piece of media in that stack, and we only end up with 29 copies? That's kind of a wild contingency, as those drives appear to be able to write on anything, even that special bad stuff I keep around. If bad media is encountered, it simply lands in the reject bin, directly above the drives.

Here's what happens while we're at the bar: the robotic arm, in a slow and sturdy motion travels down to the input/output bin, which has slid from underneath the rig to expose our stack of masters and media. The arm seizes the first master by way of three small prongs that puncture and move outwardly from the void at the center of the disc until they feel they've hit polycarbonate, like a squid beak in reverse. The master is then raised, a drive tray opens, the prongs close, and the master is dropped in. The same process is repeated with the blank media we've stacked beneath the master in the input bin, only this time, of course, it's the tray of the second drive that opens to receive the blank. Recording then begins.

That done, the recording drive opens, the arm moves in to grab the media, and transports the recorded disc to the printer, which opens in the same fashion the drives do. That gets printed and grabbed, the input/output bin slides to the output position, and the arm takes the finished product all the way back down. This same process is repeated until the second master is grabbed, dropped in a drive, read and recognized as another master. The first master then comes out of its drive and is dropped on top of its ten simulacra in the output bin. The process begins anew with the second and third master, and it keeps going until no new disc is encountered. Odds are good that every copy you wanted is there in the output bin; if not, you've got very, very bad media in your reject bin.

That's just one kind of possible job. You can copy from CD drives hanging from your mainboard, files on your hard disk, whatever's called for. Copy jobs that use a remote source drive (your hard disk, a mainboard drive, etc.) tend to go very fast, as you're able, between the hardware and the software, to record two blanks simultaneously in both of the DTP1000's drives--your project time is effectively halved, or quartered, even, if you happen to purchase Cedar's DTP 4000, the four-drive model.

one monkey don't stop no show

As I sit here watching this off-white robotic arm move up and down, I'm thinking about those opening scenes of 2001, A Space Odyssey: that monkey bludgeons another monkey to death with a thigh bone. In that primordial yet uncomfortably recognizable rage, the assailant hurls his bone into the air, and the bone becomes, in that cinematic way of presenting metaphor, a cylindrical space ship traveling toward earth.

Those scenes bother me quite a bit, simply because I know it could be true: technology may have its roots in war, destruction, and death, and our current world doesn't do much to oppose that view. This Cedar, though, as I'm watching it, up and down, is presenting a contrary vision: it's the motion of creation, and just ordinary creation, tender creation at my own hands. That's an awfully nice thing to think about while we're at the bar.


Rimage Acquires Cedar: Publisher Burns On

In late February 2000, Rimage Corporation purchased Cedar Technologies in a landmark deal for the CD duplication and production communities. It's an interesting match, given the companies' no-too-distant histories, which included a nasty intellectual property suit resolved in June 1999. But all current signs point to a happy union, and a profitable one; given the complementary nature of Cedar's DTP line and Rimage's higher-end production systems, merged financial backing and R & D know-how should keep both company's products well afloat in their generally distinct market channels. Indeed, Rimage has avowed to maintain business as usual at Cedar, with all Desktop CD-R Publishing systems continuing to sell through existing distribution channels, with major technology partnerships (like Primera and Prassi) and distribution partnerships (like MicroBoards) remaining intact. The products will also continue to carry the Cedar name.

"With Cedar," Rimage CEO Bernie Aldrich says, "we saw an opportunity to acquire products we could roll into our existing line." Part of the appeal, he concedes, was Cedar's existing distribution strengths: "We made the acquisition as much for the distribution as the product itself."

"Part of the deal with Cedar," says Rimage VP of Sales Ken Klinck, "was to bring the Cedar product into distribution channels we've built. The Cedar line also offers new opportunities to expand into markets we haven't yet approached, such as desktop publishers, graphic artists, and document management applications. Our products were overkill in these markets," he continues, "but Cedar's are a perfect fit."

Klinck also adds that the DTP line will continue to develop much as it has in the past: "We don't plan to make aggressive changes to the Cedar product." Both companies confirm that Cedar's existing corporate structure will remain intact, including principals Jim Lewis and Bill Vangen. Production and manufacturing will be consolidated at Rimage.


Joshua McDaniel (josh@simulacra.to) is an IT SolutionsProvider and Webmaster of Robert Starrett and Dana Parker's http://www.cdpage.com.

Comments? Email us at letters@onlineinc.com.


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