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Digital Innovations: SkipDr & ScreenDr

There  may come a time when everything will be “in the cloud.” With services like iTunes, NetFlix, and Hulu, that day may not be far off for music and movies. However, the Internet infrastructure in the US will not be able to support pushing the content of a Blu-ray disc (27GB-50GB of data) rapidly through its pipes any time soon. Until that day, keeping our collection of Blu-ray and other discs working well will mean keeping them as scratch-free as possible.

The difference between digital discs and analog records is that light scratches on a digital disc does not necessarily mean the disc is ruined. This is because unlike vinyl records, there is a clear protective layer on top of the data layer on digital discs. While a light scratch can cause visual and audio artifacts to appear on playback, those scratches can often times be “fixed.” One trick which sometimes works is to rub some oil from the side of one’s nose on the scratches. Another is to polish the disc using a gentle polish such as toothpaste. Many DVD-rental places will use a mechanical polisher to buff out small scratches. Digital Innovations has now made that technology available in a home unit called the SkipDr.

The device is a compact, battery-powered disc polisher specifically designed remove light scratches and other surface imperfections which may interfere with the path of the laser reaching the data layer and reflecting back to the optical sensor.

A clean LCD screen is not as important as a scratch-free disc, but smudges and fingerprints on the glass can still be annoying. The trick to cleaning an LCD screen is to use products which remove grime without leaving any traces (like streaks and lint). The ScreenDr kit contains both a microfiber cloth and 5 oz of streak-free cleaning solution (no ammonia or alcohol) and claims to do just that.

How well do these items work? We will gum up the screen and purposely scratch up some discs and put both the SkipDr and ScreenDr to work. Look for the results in the FirstUse write-up in June.

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