The BenQ 4816P features a headphone jack, volume control, manual eject, status LED, and large, powered, play/skip and eject/stop buttons. At the back of the drive, jumper settings labels are etched into the drive. Installation was trouble free. Novice installers will appreciate the set-up guide, which provides diagrams and detailed information to help with setup. The drive ships with a 3.5-inch driver disc for the DOS environment, Ahead Nero Burning ROM software, an operating guide, quick set-up guide, one blank CD-R and CD-RW, an audio cable and mounting screws. For reliability, the drive makes use of Seamless Link technology, which eliminates buffer under-run errors. For upgradability, the drive can be firmware upgraded via the BenQ Web site. With a read/rewrite/write speed of 48x16x48, the BenQ 4816P drive produced fast times across the board in all the tests we threw at it. Well packaged and shipping with a two-year warranty, this drive is hard to beat in terms of value and performance. Recommended retail price (RRP): $129.
BenQ: 1300 130 336
Similar in design and performance to its Iomega 30988800 counterpart, the Imation IMW482448IA has a read/rewrite/write speed of 48x24x48. The drive has headphone, volume and manual eject buttons on its left side and a large eject button on its right. A play/skip button is not present. The back of the drive contains etched markings for quick reference when setting up the jumpers and plugging in the cables. The drive ships with Ahead Nero Burning ROM software, a user guide, a quick set-up guide, an analog audio cable and mounting screws. Bundled CD media and an IDE cable have been omitted. The drive has buffer under-run prevention technology, coupled with CAV (Constant Angular Velocity) technology; the latter is used to increase the quality and speed of the average recording, and shortens the time taken to output the finished result. Claiming a 24x rewrite speed, this drive produced the fastest format time of CD-RW discs — 29 seconds — but proved to be agonisingly slow in the rewrite tests, unlike the Iomega drive. However, its CD-R performance was stellar, returning the fastest time of the review of two minutes 33 seconds (the same as the Iomega drive). RRP: $249.
Imation: (02) 8858 3000
The Iomega 30988800 comes with Ahead Nero Burning ROM software, a quick install guide, an analog audio cable, an IDE cable and mounting screws. As with all drives in the review, the Iomega drive features buffer under-run protection for trouble-free CD burning. Included overburn technology can release as much as 870MB of data from one CD-R. We were able to burn up to 711MB on our 700MB TDK test media. Higher capacities did not initiate a burning operation. With a read/rewrite/write speed of 48x24x48, this drive is another to boast the 24x rewrite speed, clocking the second-fastest CD-RW format time (34 seconds) and equalling the Imation’s CD-R writing performance. It produced the fastest audio extraction time and was one of the best all-round performing drives in the review. It was also the most expensive. RRP: $279.
Iomega: 1800 466 342
Mitsubishi Diamond Data DD481648-058 features well laid out control buttons and a small status LED. The headphone jack, a slightly submerged volume control, manual eject and status light are all located on the left side of the drive. Powered eject/stop and play/skip buttons are on the right side. Connections at the rear include analog and digital audio outputs. The device jumper settings can be manipulated quickly by referencing the etched markings on the drive’s case. The box contents include Ahead writing software, a blank CD-R and CD-RW disc, and a quick setup guide. A buffer under-run prevention technology called BurnProtection is featured and prevents errors when a stream of data is interrupted during recording. The drive’s flash memory can be firmware upgraded via Mitsubishi’s Web site. It has a read/rewrite/write speed of 48x48x16. Its write times were similar to those of the other drives we looked at, although its half-write speed suffered a little. It produced the quickest read time of all drives in the CD-ROM and CD-RW tests and was very solid in the audio extraction test. It ships with a two-year warranty. This drive is inexpensive, reliable and well packaged. RRP: $179.
Mitsubishi: (02) 9684 7777
The Sony CRX-210A1 drive stood out by having one of the loudest tray loading mechanisms of all the drives. The bezel hosts a headphone jack and a slightly submerged volume control, a manual eject and the status light on its left side. The powered eject button is on the right side. The bundled burning software, called B’s Recorder Gold, is easy to use. It has MP3 ripping capabilities, but these are limited and an upgrade must be purchased if you want to continue using this feature after 20 times or 30 days, whichever comes first. The drive comes with an IDE cable and a user manual, but no media is included in the box. For buffer under-run protection, the drive employs a technology called Power-Burn in addition to its 2MB buffer. The drive has a read/rewrite/write speed of 48x12x48. It produced solid results across the board, but its full speed and half-speed write tests were the slowest of all the drives tested. It was a reliable reader, though, showing good transfer rates in the CD-RW and CD-ROM read tests. RRP: $189.
Sony: (02) 9887 6666
The aesthetically inclined will be glad to learn that the Yamaha CRW-F1 is the only drive in the review that comes with a blue status LED. The front panel of the drive has a powered open/close button, manual eject, volume control, and headphone jack. It is bundled with Ahead writing software, a 40-pin IDE cable, an analog audio cable, mounting screws, software guide, user manual, and a blank CD-R and CD-RW disc. The drive supports Mt Rainer technology for drag-and-drop CD rewriting and on-the-fly formatting of discs. To combat against buffer under-run errors, an 8MB buffer memory combines with SafeBurn, a buffer under-run protection function. The drive uses technology exclusive to Yamaha, disc T@2 (tattoo), that allows custom text and images to be burned onto the unused portion on a data side of the disc. However, the images or text can only be seen when viewed in the correct light, so the feature may not be used by everybody. Be warned: T@2 disables further writing to the disc. The drive has a read/rewrite/write speed of 44x24x44. It was one of only three in the review with a rewrite speed of 24x and produced good results in those tests. The Yamaha could prepare a CD-RW disc for use in 39 seconds flat. The CD-R writing tests at half-speed were a little sluggish, but its read speed proved to be solid. This drive is a little pricey and its T@2 feature may seem like a novelty to some, but many bedroom DJs who mix CDs will jump at the chance to imprint their logo on discs. RRP: $249.
Yamaha: 1800 682 705