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Ultimately, we selected the JFJ Easy Pro Plus, but the Simotech ZDAG 102 gave a good performance. Our rating was based thusly:
Ease Of Use - The ZDAG was marked slightly lower because of the need to deal with two polishing pads, compared to the single pad of the competition.
Quality of instructions - The ZDAG rated poorly here because it came with only a single page of xeroxed text, written poorly in a sort of 'Ching-lish', with no illustrations. The competing polisher had a book of clear text with plenty of color illustrations.
Messiness - The ZDAG fared better here, because the CD rotates and the polishing pads do not; on the competing polisher, the high speed rotation of the polishing pad flings the abrasive solution off onto the inner surface of the housing. The ZDAG would be better for occasional use in a home environment.
Consumption of Expendables - The ZDAG is slightly better for occasional use because its stationary polishing pads retain their abrasive solution rather than flinging it around. On the other hand, the pads are adhesive mounted and are pretty much ruined when replacing them with other pads having different grades of abrasive, whereas the competing polisher has Velcro mounted pads that are not ruined when switching back and forth between grades of abrasives.
Polishing Results - The ZDAG and its competition both succeeded in removing all significant scratches and blemishes from the deliberately damaged CDs. In every case, the ZDAG left behind more fine 'polishing scratches' than did the competing polisher. The sandpaper abrasives were not used on either polisher, since only the most heavily scratched CDs would require this.
So, comparative results aside, what is the ZDAG like to use?
The base unit, aka the 'polisher machine' is basically a motorized turntable which holds the CD (or DVD), with two polishing pad holders on the hinged lid and a solid state motor timer operated with a pushbutton on the front of the unit.
The CD/DVD is held to the turntable using a nut that screws onto the central pin. The two pad holders have smooth plastic surfaces, and this is where the adhesive-backed polishing pads attach. One of the pads is positioned to polish the inner half of the CD/DVD, while the other is positioned to polish the outer half. You could, in theory, use the ZDAG to polish those tiny CD ROMs by using only the inner polishing pads.
Peel the backing paper from two polishing pads, stick the pads to the holders, apply a few drops of abrasive polishing solution to each pad, and close the hinged lid. Press the pushbutton, and the timer runs the motor for a short while. Open the lid, unscrew the nut and remove the disc. Wash it off under running water and dry it. Spray on the cleaning solution (included) and do a final wipe with the soft cloth provided. Done.
For a disc with heavier scratches, use the grittier polishing solution first, then replace the pads and do another pass with the finer abrasive solution. For deeper scratches, sand the disc first using the small sanding block (two are provided), then run the two polishing passes; you will need to change the pads for each type of solution.
The kit also includes a set of buffing pads and a tiny bottle of special solution (I think this is some sort of wax), which does not remove scratches, but which can fill in any scratches that might remain.
The base unit is quite small, not much wider than a CD, and is about 5-6 inches high. It would be a good choice for use at home where occasional CD/DVD polishing is needed, especially if you buy used discs from Amazon Marketplace sellers.
1. A good microfiber towel. It comes with a little rag in the box, but DO NOT USE IT. If you use it to wipe the cream off you will create a lot of superficial scratches on the disc! I bought a big microfiber towel at Wal Mart in the car care supplies for $8.00. No more superficial scratches when I wipe the discs down.
2. Extra white pads. For whatever reason they give you 100 yellow pads, and only 10 white. I found 100 white pads on Ebay for $8.50. Great deal!
3. Rain X Window/Glass Cleaner. The stuff in the clear spray bottle. Spray it on before doing anything, wipe it off to get any grit out. Use it to lube up the disc in between cycles, and use it at the end when wiping off the cream with the microfiber towel. Once again, $4.00 at Wal Mart.
That's about it. I do recommend 2 machines though. Keep yellow pads on one machine for deep scratches, and white pads in your other for surface scratches/buffing. It's a good machine for the price, but you will need some practice.
I was very surprised to find that: Yes and Yes!
A great way to save money is to buy used - video stores are always having sales on used titles that let you save a very large amount. The problem are that you never know what you're getting - scratches, gouges, and even marks you have no idea where they possible came from - these are normal on used discs!
I've tried just about every other method - the creams, the sprays, the disc doctor, the other "resurfacing" machines, but none work. The disc doctor/resurfacing machines do usually make the problem better, but leave ugly marks on the discs (and often can't resurface enough of the disc). If you have a deep scratch, you're screwed with these machines. The other problem are the high replacement supply costs (usually sold in large packs with EVERYTHING -- problem is you usually only need 1 or 2 of the 8 pieces they sell you in bulk).
I figured it was time to move up and try this one - I've seen it on Amazon for a while, but the price always kept me from ordering. I have to say I'm very glad I finally gave in. The machine looks good compared to the rest - fortunately the ugly green/blue top has been replaced with a clear one.
The instructions are a bit confusing - there is a big set written by someone who doesn't seem to speak english natively. There's also a single-sheet that looks like it was re-written by someone who does (problem is some information varies between the two).
One really neat thing about this (and why I think it works compared to the rest) is just how fast it spins - it spins fast while the others move very slowly (usually taken 2-3 minutes for 1 rotation, this one spins many times per second). This also helps speed up the process - instead of 3 minutes per cycle, this one cycles for 10 seconds at a time. Run it for a cycle, add some more cream, run it, add cream, run it, add cream - I do that for about 6 times and then just need to polish the disc (white pads).
One problem are the pads - they're stickers. Stick them on the machine, peel them off, stick others on. It doesnt always work (stickers lose their sticking power, start to tear, etc..) fortunately theyre disposable after a few uses (not something you need to keep) but having a locking mechanism would've been nicer. Get used to constantly swapping pads though. If you can afford a 2nd machine (one for resurfacing, one for polishing), get one!
The included quantities are good for resurfacing discs (100 pads), but the polishing/cleaning pads are very limited (10 of each). I'd recommend another set of Yellow pads (resurfacing) and White Pads (polishing) - the blue ones (cleaning) are probably not necessary unless you only use this machine to clean discs.
The replacements are sold through the company website at a reasonable cost (about $7 each) - whether its for pads or creams. This is nice as it lets you specify exactly what you need more of.
We'll see how well it holds up, but so far I'm loving this thing. Exactly what I was wanted and it far exceeded what I was expecting out of it. If you've been disappointed by the rest, this is the one to get.
After using this product for a couple weeks (regularly), I've decided to lower the score to a 4/5 (from 5/5) due to the overall investment.
The product works wonders, and at the selling price seems like a very good deal. The problem comes in that to continue getting those results, you need to keep paying.
The included accessories (yellow cream, red cream, white cream, cleaning spray, 100 yellow pads, 10 blue pads, 10 white pads) seem like a lot, but you'll soon find they go quickly.
Assume 4 uses out of each pad (and 4-8 "uses" per discs, depending on the damage) and you're getting 50 "repairs" out of the yellow pads. The White pads, however, are needed to make the disc look new again (after using the yellow pads, the disc is covered in marks and the white pads are needed to remove these marks). The included blue/white pads will last you maybe 5 discs at most.
The white cream is also a very small bottle (so I'd suggest 2-3 bottles per 100 pads (cream needs to be used on each pad (2), each time you use the machine (so 4-8 cycles = 8-16 drops of cream per disc).
Within a couple weeks, I spent more than half of the machines up-front cost just on buying extra pads/creams (Basically $7 for anything - each pack of pads, each bottle of cream, etc..) While I did think this was good upfront (see the review above) I quickly found it can get pricey and quick!
Another negative is that these accessories are only available through the manufacturers website - this makes me a little uncomfortable because who knows how long these will be available for (and without them, the machine just plain doesn't work).