by May 11, 2002 0 comments



This year’s shootout has really been interesting, as it gave us some interesting insights into the CD-Writer market today, and what to expect in the future. On the technology front, write speeds for internal CD-Writers has already reached 40x, so it won’t be long before you could burn a CD in less than three minutes. And with the emergence of USB 2.0 it won’t be long before external drives also catch up. Also, this time around we have seen some innovative things added to the drives, such as a memory stick slot in the Sony drive, perfect for people with Sony cams. Another first was a CD-Writer with a FireWire interface. This was the 24x external CD-Writer from Yamaha. 

Another interesting trend this time is the major price war happening in CD-Writers. Vendors are fast reducing the CD-Writer prices to keep pace with the competition. In fact, we got several price change requests during the shootout itself. Perhaps by the time you’re reading this article, the prices mentioned for the various CD-Writers we’ve reviewed would have again gone down.

Performance-wise, most drives in this year’s shootout performed very well, with top honors in this department going to the drive from Sony. This drive managed to burn a 650 MB CD in just 4:24 min, and completed a full format of a CD-RW in 12 mins, both quite impressive. The only drive to be a little off the mark was the drive from Benq, taking more than 6 minutes to burn a CD. However the Benq did have the price advantage being the second cheapest drive in the shootout, priced at Rs 6,500. The cheapest drive however, was the Krypton 16x, at just Rs 4,450. Though a 16x, its performance was pretty good, and comparable to some of the 24x drives. It took 5:36 mins to burn a 650 MB CD-R disk, and managed a CD-to-CD copy in 7:16. We could create audio CDs with it in just 4:27 mins, and its average throughput with CD-RWs came out to 1.172 MB/sec. The drive ships with NT1 CD maker for writing CDs and File CD for
CD-RWs. 

The competition in the External drive category was also just as hot. Here the drive from Iomega bagged the honors for the best performing albeit by the smallest of margins. It managed to burn a complete CD in just 4:13, with the PlexWriter hot on its trail with an equally impressive time of 4:15. However the final verdict went Iomega’s way because its price was a whopping Rs 7,000 lesser then the PlexWriter. The other drive in this group was the 16x Iomega, which was also the cheapest, priced at Rs 12,000. However being 16x, it could not match up with the big boys in sheer performance. 

Fast Writers, Slow Media
No one would have ever thought the speed of CD-writers would go up so fast, that we’d be stuck with incompatible media. But that is exactly what happened with three of the drives we got for review. Two had speeds of 32x and another had a whopping 40x speed. We could not include these in the shootout, as the media of equivalent speeds wasn’t available in the market. While they could also burn on 24x media, it was not sufficient to check out their full potential. Hopefully such high media would be available in the market by the time you’re reading this issue. In any case, here’s a brief over view of these drives. 

This was the fastest drive we receivedPlexWriter CDRW Drive 
Model PX-W4012TA from Plextor was the fastest drive we received in terms of its write speed of 40x, ReWrite speed of 12x, and a read speed of 40x. However despite making numerous checks with various vendors we were unable to find a 40x media, which could be used to test this drive. We tried burning 650 MB of data on a single CD-R media that came bundled with it. The results we got were pretty interesting. The drive took 4:54 to burn this data, which is even longer than some of the 24x drives we had tested. The reason for this was that the drive had to avoid the buffer under run error 105 times during the burning procedure, which added to its overall time. This is because every time a drive comes across a buffer underrun it pauses and then restarts again. We then lowered its burning speed to 24x, and sure enough its time decreased to 4:27 mins, which is at par with other 24x drives reviewed. In terms of ReWriting the drive was also pretty impressive, completing a full format in only 10:31 mins. So, basically to fully take advantage of this drive’s capabilities you might have to wait a while until 40x media becomes readily available. However the good news is that the drive is priced at Rs 13,000, which is definitely worth it considering its super fast speeds. 

At just Rs ,5,000 this is one the most attractive devices aroundKrypton CDRW Drive 
Model 32x/10x/40x from Priya has a rated write speed of 32x, ReWrite speed of 10x and a read speed of 40x. Like before we were unable to find 32x media, which could be used to test its performance. However if the results of the other 16x drives are anything to go by, then this one too should have no problem at all. Again, price is where this drive leaves every one else biting the dust. A price tag of just Rs 5,500 for a 32x drive, makes this drive one of the most attractive drives around. All you have to do now is wait for the faster media to become available. 

Along with the Plexwriter, this was the fastest driveAsus CDRW Drive 
Asus’ other drive model CRW-3212A has a rated write speed of 32x, a ReWrite speed of 12x and a read speed of 40x. In terms of its ReWrite speeds this one was one of the fastest drives, along with the PlexWriter PX-W4012TA drive. The drive has an IDE interface, so installing it should be no problem at all. This drive is priced at Rs 10,000–Rs 2,500 more than its 24x version.

It sure looks like things are really hotting up in the world of CD-Writers. 

Sachin Makhija

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