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Review: Condre Simple Copy 4
Posted Mar 1, 2004 Print Version     Page 1of 2 next »

Synopsis: At $1149 for four 4X DVD recorders and remarkably straightforward multidisc duplication software, the Simple Copy 4 is hard to beat as a simple, speedy, low-cost disc-to-disc copier. Installation is quick and easy, and operation is a piece of cake. In testing, burns from hard drive-based disc images proved somewhat chancy, but disc-to-disc dupes worked every time.

"Our target market is the church lady," says Condre president Charles Alcon Jr. of the Simple Copy 4, a moderately priced, PC-attached, four-disc DVD/CD duplicator. He profiles a user who's purchased a 2gHz PC for $399 and may have very limited knowledge of the advanced creative possibilities of that PC. But that "church lady" also works in an environment where content is created (in the booming church production market, that would be sermons for sale and other promotional/evangelical material that spreads the good word) that needs to be duplicated and distributed. The church market represents an interesting corner of the digital studio space. They're using all kinds of dazzling technology there, from sophisticated lighting and audio setups to professional cameras and recording equipment to state-of-the-art post-production studios.

Church production has been a lucrative application for (audio-only) CD-R duplication and publishing for some time now, and it makes even more sense with DVD. DVD-Video allows these operations to take advantage of the visual power of their content and all the A/V technology that fuels it. The distribution of church content on DVD is still in its early stages, but it's certainly begun. Check out the July/August and September/October issues of Church Production ( to see how the leading publication in the church market is gently nudging its readers in the direction of DVD while guiding their journey.

Condre's target user for the Simple Copy 4 isn't the lighting engineer who's built the whiz-bang evangelical presentation system or the DVD authoring or videography expert who designs the title. Rather, it's the office administrator who's recently added "CD and DVD duplication" to his or her job description with little advance notice and even less vocational training.

If that's indeed their target, Condre's aim is true.

A Gift to be Simple
You might not have room for a sacristy or confessional in your studio, but the Simple Copy 4 ought to fit in quite nicely. For all its church-friendliness, it's anything but church-specific.

Condre's Simple Copy 4 is a host-dependent four-disc duplicator that ships with a full complement of dual-format DVD recorders for a competitive price of $1149. We're a long way from the $5K-per-drive days. Our eval unit came with four Pioneer DVR-106D drives installed, featuring 4X DVD±R, 2X DVD-RW, 2.4X DVD+RW, 16X CD-R, and 10X CD-RW. The drive brand or manufacturer may vary among units, as these types of partnerships shift constantly; however, the specs should remain the same until Condre upgrades to the next generation of 8X DVD recorders.

Hardware-wise, Simple Copy 4 is true to its name: four internal half-height ATAPI recorders, an ATAPI to USB 2 cable and hub, a USB 2 port and six-foot cable, two industrial-strength cooling fans, and a case to hold it all.

But the drives and price are only half the appeal of the Simple Copy 4. Where Condre really hopes to hook the ease-of-use über alles market is with the custom software they ship with the system. The Simple Copy application is about as straightforward a CD/DVD duplication management tool as you could hope for. Based on the Prassi/Veritas multidisc recording engine in Sonic's RecordNow OEM, Simple Copy 4 strips RecordNow to its disc duplication essentials, with a straightforward GUI that directs the user through the four steps of CD/DVD duplication. It can be a little laborious in its rigidity, but Condre takes very little for granted in terms of the skill or knowledge or applied expertise of their user base, and almost as little with regards to the supporting hardware. Which makes good sense.

First among Simple Copy's four steps is loading your source CD or DVD in the E: drive (topmost of the four recorders) and confirming it as the duplication source. Once you respond to the load prompt, you have two choices: duplicating on-the-fly from the disc or creating a master and burning from an image on the hard drive. The latter is only recommended if Simple Copy determines that your system can't handle a straight disc-to-disc dupe.

You create a master, not suprisingly, by clicking on the Create Master button. Simple Copy 4 will then load a bit-for-bit image of the source disc content onto your hard drive at a location displayed in the interface. Simple Copy will also create a disc image from files on your hard drive, although it will not assemble a legal DVD-Video image from hard drive-based files and folders. (Copying non-copy-protected single-layer DVDs is no problem.)

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