The Advantages of Mini CDs
Compact discs are a very affordable way to distribute information, which is why they are often given out at trade shows, events, seminars, and presentations. When an especially high-impact project is produced, customers will often request a miniature or business card CD to grab their client’s attention. But which is the best disc to choose, a mini CD or a business card CD?
While these two discs are often grouped together, they are not the same. Let’s start by examining their physical differences. A mini CD-R disc has a diameter of three inches and stores approximately 180MB of information. In contrast, a business card CD holds just 50MB of data and is about the same size as a traditional printed business card (though it is several times thicker).
The rectangular shape of a business card disc is the reason for its reduced capacity. The straight edges limit the number of data tracks that can fit on a disc since they surround the hub in a circular pattern. This means that audio messages must be kept very short, generally 6 minutes or less. By comparison, a 3-inch miniature CD can hold up to 24 minutes of CD quality audio.
As far as compatibility goes, mini CDs have an advantage over business card discs. They work in nearly all of the same CD players as full-size discs with very few exceptions. On the other hand, the rectangular corners of a business card CD mean that it may have trouble with some CD players, particularly slot-loading ones.
Printing is another area in which mini CDs have an advantage. Most automated disc printers and publishers can adapt to the smaller disc size simply by changing the settings on your computer. These include adjusting the inner and outer measurements in the label design software as well as making adjustments in the printer driver.
Printing on business card CDs is slightly more difficult. Many inkjet disc printers require an adapter kit or kiosk kit in order to print to business card discs. This is often available as an accessory from the manufacturer for an additional cost. An alternate choice would be to purchase a package of business card CD labels, however it is my experience that rectangles are not as forgiving as round CDs when lining up your labels. It’s easier to spot a crooked or misaligned label on a square disc than a round one.
Perhaps the single biggest difference between mini CD discs and business card discs is the price. Three-inch compact discs are produced by a wide variety of manufacturers at very low prices. Business card discs typically have a higher per-unit cost because of the royalties owed on each disc to the patent owner.
While it’s true that both mini and business card CD’s have the “wow” factor that gets people to notice them, only the miniature CD offers a larger storage capacity, better compatibility, a larger printable area, and the best price. That’s why I feel that mini CDs are the best choice for a high-impact promotional piece.
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