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Review: Avery AfterBurner
Posted Dec 1, 2002 Print Version     Page 1of 1
  

Sometimes, a Sharpie just isn't enough. But we're not talking about defeating copy protection here; just labeling CD-Rs and making attractive liner cards for the jewel box. Avery and Neato have been going head-to-head in this arena, each one offering software for custom labels and packaging. But neither one's been able to overcome entirely the biggest problem vexing the DIY CD maker: the dreaded Off-Center Label Syndrome. No matter how well Neato's piston-and-platter applicator worked, you still had to touch the adhesive side of the label and, invariably, you'd produce a few off-center, sometimes even wrinkled, labels.

Avery clearly told their finest engineers to look Off-Center Label Syndrome square in the eye and not come out of their testing facilities until they conquered it. Conquer it they did, with the ingenious AfterBurner system, which features "No-Touch" labels and a curved applicator that all but guarantees the labels stick without wrinkles or air bubbles. After using the AfterBurner software, which features Adobe Illustrator-like tools to apply full-face graphics (your own or any of the thousands of supplied images) and text (straight or curved), you print out on Avery's proprietary labels, which include two perforated tabs that prevent your grubby little fingers from ever sullying the adhesive. The tabs lock into pins that hold the label in place, and when you place the disc data-side up on the applicator and press down on the cylinder in the center—voilà!—disc and label meet. The applicator's a little quirky, but after one botched job, our labels were wrinkle- and air-bubble-free.

The Click 'n Design 3D software is easy to use, provided you stick with the dozens of templates provided in the package's QuickStart Wizard; overriding the text and layout preferences is a little tricky but not impossible. The included images include photos of everything from golf balls to fireworks, as well as trippy graphic designs—think 1970s Pink Floyd or Alan Parsons Project album covers, and you've got the idea. It's also simple enough to apply your own graphic files as label backgrounds, so you're not limited to the images Avery provides. Once you get the hang of it, you can leave the Sharpie in the desk drawer.

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