by July 14, 2001 0 comments

This is the latest CD-ReWriter from Acer, with 12x write, 8x rewrite and 32x read speeds. Compared to other CD-ReWriters we’ve reviewed, this one has the fastest rewrite speed, while the read and write speeds are more or less the same as others. The other new feature here is what Acer calls a ‘Seamless Link’ to prevent the dreaded buffer under-run error. Let’s see how it does this. Usually a buffer under-run error will occur if the buffer runs out of data while the CD is being burnt. The buffer is used to store the data in advance, so that the writer always has a ready supply of data. The buffer could run of data because of a slow hard drive, some other program running in the background, or network interference. In such cases it is not possible for the writer to start burning again once the buffer is filled, so your CD-R media becomes useless. To prevent such an error, this drive constantly monitors the buffer, and if it finds that the buffer is running out of data, it stores the exact location where data is being burnt by the writer and puts the writer in pause-mode. When the buffer is filled with data again, the writer resumes burning from that very location it left of. 

The drive has an IDE interface. But one thing you need to take care of is the jumper settings–true for any IDE device. It has a 2 MB buffer, which is used to store temporary data while burning CDs. The front panel has a headphone jack, a volume control, and two buttons for open/close and play/skip. This means that you can directly listen to an Audio CD, and navigate through the various songs without running any extra program on your PC. 

Acer CD-RW 1208A

Features: Seamless link (to prevent buffer under-run error), 12x write, 8x rewrite, 32x read, IDE interface, 2 MB buffer
Pros: Very good performance, attractive price
Cons: None
Price: Rs 12,500 including all taxes, one-year warranty
Contact: Acer Communications and Multimedia. 
Tel: 022-5705230—2. 302, 
Omega, Main Street
Hiranandani Gardens, Powai
Mumbai 400076.

We put the drive through a series of tests, and compared its results with other drives tested in our CD-ReWriter shootout last year to look at the improvements. First we burnt a CD consisting of 648 MB of a collection of files of various sizes, both compressed and loose. This test was done at the maximum speed of 12x. The drive finished the task in 7 minutes and 23 seconds, which is great considering that the fastest time we got last year was nearly 11 minutes for the Yamaha CRW8424E-VK, a SCSI drive with 8x write speeds.

Next, we created an ISO image on the hard drive and then burnt that image on to a CD and measured the total time taken. This drive took just under 11 minutes to do this, which again is very good, just beating the PlexWriter W124Tsi, which incidentally also has 12x write speeds. Moving on to the Rewrite tests, this drive took less than 15 minutes to format a CD-RW–by far the best time–the closest being 28 minutes for the HP CD-Writer Plus 9310i. This of course could be due to the 8x rewrite speed. 

Once a CD-RW has been formatted it can be used like another drive. You can copy and delete files on it as you would on a normal hard drive. Our last test was to measure the throughputs given by the CD-RW by copying a 99 MB file to it and measuring the time taken. It clocked a time of 1 minute and 43 seconds, which brings its overall throughput to a whopping 1 MB/second. This is more than double the throughput which any drive had achieved before. Overall, things look bright for this drive when it comes to performance. 

The drive comes with the Adaptec Easy CD Creator 4.02e for creating CDs and DirectCD 3.01e for writing to CD-RWs. Also thrown into the package is a CD-RW disk. At Rs 12,500, the CD-ReWriter is an attractively-priced performer. 

Sachin Makhija at PCQ Labs

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