by May 11, 2002 0 comments

Our shootout comprised 10 CD-ReWriters. We divided the CD-RWs into two categories based on their interface–IDE and USB. A combination of price, performance and features were taken to rank the models. Each parameter was given points (see box), making a total of 300. The weights and scores were arrived at using the Brown-Gibson model. The drives were tested on a PIII/800 with 128 MB RAM and Win 2000 professional. For consistent results the media used was also constant– Imation’s 24x CD-R for the CD-writing tests and Plextor’s 10x CD-RWs for the CD-ReWriting tests.

We did six tests to get a fix on the performance of each drive. These were selected to match the most-common things you are likely to do with your drive, like burn data, copy CDs and create audio CDs. For burning data, we used a collection of files of various sizes, both compressed and loose, totaling 650 MB. For audio CD test, we used a single audio CD with 15 tracks totaling 59.5 minutes.


Performance 100
Features 100
Prices 100

Time to burn 650 MB of data
Burning data is one of the most common things that a CD-RW drive is used for. So in our first test we checked out the time taken by the drives in burning 650 MB of data from the hard disk onto the CD-Rs. The test was done at the drives maximum write speed. Needless to say, the lesser the time taken, the faster
your drive.

CD-CD copy
You have a CD-ROM drive and a CD-ReWriter on your PC and want to copy the contents from your friend’s CD onto your CD-R disk. This is what we checked the drives for by copying 15 tracks of 59.5 min from the CD onto the CD-R disk. We noted the time taken in doing so; the lesser the time taken the better the performance of your drive. The test was done straight from the CD to the CD-R disk, with hard disk caching disabled. We used a 52x CD-drive for task.

Time to create audio CD
You may also want to use your CD-ReWriter to create audio CDs from your MP3 and Wav files. You can then play these audio CDs on your CD player as well. In this test we used 15 WAV files to compile an audio CD totaling 59.5 minutes of audio. The time taken for doing this was taken into account.

Time to format a CD-RW disk
We next checked the rewriting capabilities of each drive. A CD-RW disk after formatting can be used like a standard floppy drive. In this test we noted the time it takes to do a full format of a CD-RW disk.

Max formatted capacity of CD-RW disk
We checked the maximum useable capacity of a CD-RW. The higher the capacity the more data you can store on it.

Average throughput (MB/sec)
We checked the time it took to copy a 102 MB compressed file from the hard disk on to the CD-RW and calculated the average throughput of the drive in MB/sec.

The parameters used for features include: the bundled software, the media plus any special features of the drive, and extra features in the CD writing software. Drives coming with a rich-software bundle scored higher than the other drives. Likewise drives coming with CD-RW media, or an USB card got additional points. We also looked for how useful was the CD-writing software. The software that lets you use the drive to the fullest got a higher rating.

The cheaper drives got higher points than their more expensive counterparts. Since all drives came with a warranty of one year, we didn’t take this into account.

Neelima Vaid

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