Looking for a way to label your multitude of CDs and DVDs neatly and efficiently? HP has come up with an elegant answer: use the same laser that already burned the data to make a label on the flip side of the disc.

A technology dubbed LightScribe enables drives to burn a silk screen-like, high-contrast label on the upper side of CD or DVD media bearing a special coating. After completing a data burn, users will be prompted to flip the disc over to burn a label onto the other side.

The first LightScribe drives and media are expected to hit the market about six months from now, from leading manufacturers such as Hitachi, Mitsubishi, and Toshiba. HP estimates that a drive that uses LightScribe will carry a premium of about $10 ( around £6) over the going price today, and that a disc will cost just a few pence more than today's discs.

"There are no consumables like ink or ink jet cartridges; the only consumable is the disc itself," said Daryl Anderson, project manager and HP engineer partly responsible for inventing the technology.

HP notes that LightScribe is likely to make its way into our living rooms on such consumer electronics products as stereo-component CD recording decks and home DVD recorders.