Never too late to Disco

A quick look at a disc burning application that, albeit not in development anymore, still works great and still has a lot of value.

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07 Jun, 2012

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Further investigating the recent disc burning problems I encountered on my MacBook Pro (cf. It’s toasted.), I decided to try other burning software applications. While it’s true that you could burn a CD or DVD using Mac OS X system tools like the Finder or Disk Utility, I’ve always been a Toast user since version 3. Toast has been a familiar environment which has managed to maintain a not too complicated user interface as many new features have been added over the years.

So, in my attempt to see whether the problems in burning a disc were hardware-related (faulty optical drives, poor quality discs) or software-related (compatibility issues between Toast Titanium 10 and Mac OS X Lion), I started looking for other apps. I immediately remembered Disco — ah, the power of simplicity in app naming! — and tried it first.

One of the first things I noticed on the app’s website is that Disco is no longer under development, sadly, but the developers have been quite gracious in making Disco a free download (upon first use, just enter the free Licence Name and Serial number provided on the website and you’re good to go).

Judging by the message, evidently a version 2 had been planned.

Another thing I realised is that Disco is much more powerful than I remembered. Perhaps when I checked it the first time I was fooled by the app’s super-simple interface and believed it was one of those single-task ‘droplet’ apps that don’t give you many options to choose from. I won’t list Disco’s many features here: the developers have done an incredibly good job at explaining them all in the website’s main page. What I can tell you is that I used Disco to burn some DVDs with my MacBook Pro’s internal SuperDrive and external LaCie disc burner, and each burning session completed successfully. So, for now, I decided to stick with Disco, which has proven to be an easy-to-use, reliable application, both on my Intel Mac and on my PowerPC Macs.

Why use Disco? Three main reasons

1. User-friendly interface — Disco’s UI is clean and simple, and shows you only the information you need. No cluttered windows, no misleading interface elements. When you launch the app, this is what you get:

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You can organise all the content you need to burn in folders and subfolders, then you just drag all the files/folders and drop them on the app’s main window, and it morphs into this:

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It’s all before your eyes: on the top-left corner you can check the items’ global size; you can give the disc a name by editing the top-center field; while the top-right corner tells you whether there’s a disc inserted in the drive ready to be burnt. When everything’s okay and accounted for, you press Burn and the process will start (you can optionally have the window release digital smoke as Disco burns… try to make some noise towards the Mac’s microphone and see what happens). You’ll also appreciate the detailed verification window after the disc is burnt.

2. Free application + complete set of features = great value — Disco is no longer developed, it’s true, but it still works well and offers a complete, useful set of features. Think about how much other disc burning applications cost. Sure, if you need to burn Blu-ray discs then you’ll have to resort to other alternatives, but if you primarily burn CDs and DVDs and want to use a great free app that’s even simpler than using Disk Utility, then look no further.

3. Universal Binary, low system requirements — Disco is a Universal Binary, and works well with Intel and PowerPC Macs. I’ve tested it on a PowerBook G4 running Mac OS X Leopard (10.5.8) and a MacBook Pro running Mac OS X Lion (10.7.4) and burnt some DVDs without problems. It’s the perfect app if you, like me, still have some vintage Macs around and want to use a disc burning software that’s definitely lighter than Toast Titanium. Disco weighs only 3.4 MB and will work on any Mac with Mac OS X 10.4.3 or higher.

Having an application that works as great under Tiger as it does under Lion is not that frequent, especially considering it only reached version 1.0.3. Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

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