Let me see if I can help communicate the poster’s original question since I’m interested in knowing the answer myself:
First, we need to clear up the confusion as to what are the layers above the reflective layer. i.e. if we look at Boskin’s post with the diagrams:
[li]The worded explanation at the beginning says there is a lacquer layer and then a protective layer on top of the lacquer.
[/li][li]Then the 2 diagrams right below it shows only the protective layer without any lacquer.
[/li][li]Then the bottom diagram says that the protective layer is the lacquer.
Here’s my first stab at guessing what’s going on, based on more time spent scouring posts and webpages than I care to admit to. I’d appreciate any corrections:
[li]“Silver Lacquer”: Lacquer is clear so the “silver” isn’t actually referring to the lacquer. It’s just the silver reflective layer that you see underneath it. In this case, there is just the laquer layer and therefore no additional protective layer on top of it. Same reasoning for “Gold Lacquer” like the one sold by MAM. It’s the same clear lacquer, but it’s “gold” only because you’re looking at the gold reflective layer underneath.
[/li][li]“Thermal”, “Inkjet”, and “Everest”: These are coating types specialized for their respective printer types. I have not been able to find any info stating that it’s applied on top of a lacquer, so I’m concluding that these coatings are used instead of lacquer.
[/li][li]For these printable types, Silver and White appear to be the two popular “colors” that they come in.
[/li][li]Some branded discs use a silkscreen pattern on top of the lacquer layer. I haven’t found much on how well this helps increase resistance to abuse. From personal experience (i.e. Maxell CD-R Pro), it seems to do a good job at least against fingerprints and dust. However, I believe the true main purpose of the silkscreen is just for decoration.
[/li][li]Discs that truly have a layer on top of the lacquer for the sake of protection against physical abuse are rare if not nonexistent. Kodak’s Ultima was my favorite since they added a hard resin layer specifically for that purpose. Unfortunately they have gotten out of the business so you can’t buy them anymore.
So basically there are at least 8 main kinds of coatings available in the industry: Lacquer-only, Lacquer+silkscreen, InkjetSilver, InkjetWhite, ThermalSilver, ThermalWhite, EverestSilver, and EverestWhite.
So the question is: Putting the specific printer types aside, which coating type stands up to the most abuse? If you have butterfingers like me, there’s a concern about taking a disc with valuable data and accidentally dropping/scratching/etc…, then which type of coating would you feel the most comfortable with?
Here are some thoughts: Again, I’m open to corrections as these are just first guesses to get the discussion going:
[li]Lacquer-only is probably the most vulnerable to abuse and so if you’re looking for a “tough” disc, stay away from this type. However, it’s the cheapest type so if you think that your discs will always be treated gently, it’s the best choice budget-wise
[/li][li]The discs intended for printers probably are tougher than the lacquer because they have to be designed to withstand a print head running across it. Therefore, which type of printer puts the most stress on the surface? I think thermal heads are made of soft rubber, so they probably don’t test the surface that much. Inkjet nozzles actually don’t make any contact at all, but I think the hard plastic guides on the cartrige do. I don’t know enough about Everest printers to comment.
[/li][li]I have not been able to find any data on whether the color of the printable coating (white versus silver) has any bearing on the strength of it. The white one does sort of “look” more like a hard resin (OK, I know that’s not very scientific )
Therefore, based on my limited information to date, I’d be inclined to go with a white inkjet coating. Sharpies seem to work just fine on them, too.