by February 28, 2001 0 comments

To use this as an audio CD player, you can connect speakers to its line-out jack or headphones to its headphone jack

Addonics’ PocketCD2000 CD-ROM Drive 

USB CD-ROM drive. Rs 13,975
Features: USB interface; 24x maximum speed; 128 kB cache buffer; supports DOS, Windows 3.1/95/98/2000.
Pros: Can be used as a standalone CD player; easy to set up.
Cons: DMA not available.
Source: Interface Connectronics 54, First Floor
Sadar Patrappa Road
Bangalore 560002
Tel: 80-2219281, 2242491 
Fax: 2273230 

This CD-ROM drive from Addonics is yet another device that’s hopped onto
the USB bandwagon. It has a silver casing and a little transparent window on the
drive’s lid that lets you see the CD when it’s spinning inside. The drive
has a maximum speed of 24x and a cache buffer of 128 kB.

An advantage of the drive is that it can also be used as an external CD
player for audio CDs. It has an external power source, but its plug is not
designed for Indian sockets, so you’ll have to find yourself a converter. You
can connect speakers in its line-out jack or use your headphone with its
headphone jack. Buttons, such as play/pause, forward/next song, rewind/previous
song, on the top of the CD drive let you navigate your audio CD. You’ll also
find a volume control on the side.

The drivers for the drive come on a floppy, which is an unreliable media. So
don’t forget to back up the drivers if you plan to buy this drive. The floppy
has an EXE file that has to be run, after which you can connect the drive to any
vacant USB port on your PC. Once installed, the CD-ROM gets assigned a drive
letter like other drives on your system.

To test its performance, we ran several tests on it. We first transferred 530
MB of data, which was a mix of zipped and loose files, from a CD in the drive to
the hard drive and measured the time taken. The drive took a full 12 min 26 sec
to do the task. Since such huge transfers are not done very often, we next
transferred a 67 MB folder from the CD to the hard drive. This time, the drive
took 1 min 32 sec. To give you a better idea of what these results mean, we
repeated the same tests on an ordinary 52x IDE drive. The IDE drive gave much
faster transfer rates, which was expected. This is due to two main reasons–a
speed of 52x compared to 24x for the USB drive, and the DMA (Direct Memory
Access) feature. Enabling DMA for an IDE drive results in considerable
improvement in transfer rates. For instance, it just took 2 min 6 sec to
transfer 530 MB of data with DMA enabled, and nearly double this time after we
disabled DMA. You can enable or disable DMA for all IDE drives in a computer
from the system properties of a Windows-based system. Unfortunately, DMA is not
available in USB drives.

We next checked the drive’s average access time. This is the time it takes
a CD drive to find a particular location on a CD from the time it receives the
instruction to do so. The USB drive took 152 ms. Being USB, it’s useful for
mobile users with notebooks, or places where CD drive access has to be
restricted. The price of the drive at nearly Rs 14,000 is, of course, nothing to
write home about.

Sachin Makhija at PCQ Labs

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