Does the Disc Genie Repair Kit Work?
DISC GENIE - Is It Worth A Try?
A scratched disc is the bane of every CD collector's existence. Nothing is more irritating than listening to a your favorite album and suddenly hearing a skip in the middle of your favorite track. As a longtime music geek and CD collector for 20+ years (my collection is approaching the 900 mark as of this writing), I naturally want all of my CDs to be in their best playable condition. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, especially when you buy as many previously owned discs as I do.
Back in the pre-internet era, when dinosaurs roamed the land and CD shopping took place in things called "record stores" (kids, ask your parents what those were), I always made sure to check the playing surface of each used CD that I was interested in buying. If it looked like it was too scratched/scuffed up to be playable I'd throw it back, which led to some heart breaking scenes over the years. Take it from someone who knows, it really sucks to finally stumble across a disc that's been on your "want list" for years, only to flip it over and see that it had apparently spent time lounging on a gravel driveway or had been used as a kitty scratching pad! If only everyone treated their CDs with the same tender loving care that I do! (SIGH)
Naturally the advent of the Internet has changed the used-CD buying experience, and not always for the better. Rather than scrounging around in a well stocked used-record store where you can carefully inspect each potential treasure, collectors can now simply scroll through eBay, Amazon, SecondSpin or any of the hundreds of other websites that deal in new and used music. Unfortunately, ordering used CDs sight unseen from online retailers can be a bit like the proverbial box of chocolates... you never know what you're going to get, until it arrives in your mailbox. Fortunately my batting average has been pretty good over the years, and I've only been burned by a bum CD a couple of times.
In the hopes of bringing those bum CDs back to life, I've tried numerous "remedies" to repair scratched CDs over the years... most of them dubious at best. The most common store-bought "methods" usually involve coating the playing side of the CD with a special "cleaning formula" or some sort of gritty goop, letting that soak on the disc surface for a few minutes and then wiping it off with a soft cloth. One decidedly low-tech DIY process I've tried used plain ol' white toothpaste (!) instead of any special miracle cleaning formula... and believe it or not, the toothpaste trick actually worked better than most of those store-bought solutions!
My point is, though I tend to be skeptical about these "miracle cures" for CD repair, every time I come across a new one I always try it...because I simply can't bring myself to throw away a disc unless I'm convinced that it's completely unsalvageable. Therefore, when I saw a display of the "DISC GENIE" on the front counter of my local Walgreens' this past weekend I couldn't resist picking one up. Hey, it was only a buck 99 and the label said it was "AWARD WINNING" - so what did I have to lose? (You'll notice, by the way, that it doesn't tell you WHAT award it won...)
The Disc Genie's label also bears the famous red "AS SEEN ON TV" logo, though I don't remember ever seeing it on TV. Maybe I just don't watch the right channels? Whatever. The package claims that this one little kit can repair "up to 100 Game Discs, DVDs, CDs and more!" That certainly sounded promising, and I reasoned that if this magic Disc Genie actually worked, I might never need to buy another CD-repair widget!
Tryin' It Out...
When you open the Disc Genie package you'll find a simple cardboard square, slightly larger than the average CD or DVD. One side of the "Genie" is covered in a gray, fuzzy felt-like substance. The idea, I assume, is that the fuzzy stuff is supposed to "buff" the scratches out of your discs. According to the instructions, all you have to do is place your damaged disc playing-side-down on the "Genie" pad, hold the pad with one hand, and rotate the disc around with your other hand, "in a clockwise, and counter-clockwise motion." It seemed simple enough, so I pulled out four banged-up CDs I'd picked up in a recent online scrounging excursion for the acid test.
After giving each of the discs a good "spin" on the Disc Genie, none of them looked like they'd been "improved" much to me. The directions on the package did note that "Depending on the severity of the scratches, multiple revolutions (20 or more) in each direction, as well as more pressure, may be necessary," so I made sure to give each disc at least a good 20 spins in both directions, pressing down hard enough to make my wrist hurt by the time I was done. Then there was nothing left to do but stick each of them in my CD player and see what happened. If there was no improvement after all that work, then there was probably be no hope for my little silver friends.
Press "Play," Cross Fingers
HammerFall's Threshold was the first disc into the player... and for a little while, it seemed like this Disc Genie thing had actually done its job. The CD played fine for three quarters of the run time, but just as I was starting to get my hopes up ... (BUZZ) DENIED! It started skipping on the next to last track. Crap-ola! Oh well, on to the next one. Ratt's Out of the Cellar didn't waste any time...it started skipping during the very first song. BUZZ again. On to disc #3, the Ramones' Greatest Hits Live. Once again, BUZZ. By now I could see the writing on the wall but I threw in Firehouse's Hold Your Fire anyway.. and held my breath. As you have probably already guessed...that one was a BUZZ too. Ball four, take your base!!
I gave the Disc Genie one last chance by "treating" all four CDs with it a second time and then giving each CD another spin in my player... and still, there was no improvement at all. Therefore I am officially calling B.S. on this product. It didn't "repair" a thing. All four of these CDs are now headed for the wastebasket. (**HEAVY SIGH**) Oh well, it was worth a shot... and at least I'm only out a couple of bucks. If it had actually worked, the Disc Genie would've paid for itself after only one "repair" job...so I felt it was worth the gamble.
Just in case I haven't made it perfectly clear already, I am hereby advising all of my fellow CD fanatics to AVOID the Disc Genie. If you see these things on the counter at your local store, do yourself a favor: just take two bucks out of your wallet and set it on fire. It'll be faster and the results will be the same.
Till next time... may all your CD scrounging expeditions be successful, and may all your used discs be mint condition and scratch free!
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© 2014 Keith Abt