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Jewish World Review May 4, 2001 / 11 Iyar, 5761


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Consumer Reports

Burn-proof technology -- REMEMBER when the task of burning a compact disk could take a big chunk out of your day? Remember when the fear of buffer under run errors would cause you to doubt your sanity before burning that disk?

CD writers have come a long way since then. They're faster, more reliable and have virtually eliminated buffer under run phobia.

I had a chance to play with a few of the newer models from Iomega, Plextor, Toshiba and Que and discovered that those old days are long gone.

The biggest thing to hit the industry is "BURN-proof technology," which was developed by SANYO Electric Co. and has basically eliminated buffer under runs. Here's a definition I culled from the Iomega Corp. Web site:

"Buffer Under Run-Proof technology helps prevent bad burns and CD creation errors, including buffer under run and track write errors. When the flow of data to drive is interrupted long enough to empty the drive's buffer, BURN-Proof pauses the writing process to your CD-R or CD-RW disc. Because CD writing is a real-time process that must run without interruptions, the BURN-Proof feature actually turns off the laser when your drive's buffer empties. Once the buffer fills with data again, your drive will begin to burn where the writing process stopped.

"BURN-Proof is accomplished by a combination of hardware and firmware modifications within the drive control electronics. Since this feature is built into your drive, no extra software is needed. Your drive will automatically turn on and use this BURN-Proof feature each time you create a CD."

"For more information about BURN-Proof, please visit the BURN-Proof Web site at"

All but one of the drives I tested featured this new marvel, which comes with four times the buffer of the average drive. This also eliminates the chances of making coasters out of your writeable compact disks.

All of these drives worked extremely well and I wouldn't hesitate using any of them. The big differences were speed (in the case of the Iomega drive) connectivity - firewire 1394 or ATAPI (IDE) - portability and, of course, price.

Que! Fire CD-RW ($349): Manufactured by Quality Performance Service Inc., this is the most portable of the four drives I tested. It's smaller and lighter than your typical external CD-RW drive. This is a BURN-Proof drive that will burn CDs at a blazingly fast 16X and rewriteable CDs at 10X and can read CDs at 40X. It can be connected to either a Macintosh or IBM compatible PC that has a firewire port. It also comes with the standard software - Roxio Easy CD-Creator and Direct CD, Toast (for the Mac), and UDF Reader.

Yamaha CRW2100FXZ ($379): This drive comes in two flavors - an external firewire model (which I tested) and a less expensive internal enhanced IDE model ($229.99). Both have all the features of the Que drive except Yamaha prefers to enhance its drive's reliability by increasing its buffer to eight megabytes. They call this "Waste-Proof Write Strategy," which, according to the company's Web site, "maximizes stability of the recording environment by combining a large buffer memory, CAV writing support for on-the-fly data backup, and specific fine tunings to the recording software, resulting in the elimination of buffer under runs and wasted media."

PlexWriter 16/10/40A ($309): Plextor Corp. has become synonymous with reliability, and so it is with this drive. This is an internal enhanced IDE drive featuring BURN-proof technology and has all the features of the Que! and Yamaha drives. The only difference is the data transfer rate, which seems to be faster with the firewire drives. In addition to the usual array of software you get Pextor manager 2000, which is basically a graphical interface you can use to control all the features of the drive.

Iomega Zip CD CDRW ($199.95): This drive, from Iomega Corp., is the slowest of the four I tested, rated at 12X write, 10X rewrite and 32X read, but Iomega has always waited until newer technologies are perfected before jumping on bandwagons. This is an extremely reliable internal enhanced IDE drive featuring BURN-proof technology and has all the bells and whistles of the other drives I tested. In addition to the usual array of software, you get copies of Iomega Quik Sync 2, MusicMatch Jukebox Plus, and Adobe ActiveShare.

The basic thing to keep in mind when using these drives is that nothing works well if your system can't handle it, so make sure your computer meets the minimum requirements listed on the box for the drive you use. Also, if you're going to be copying compact disks, make sure your CD drive is fast enough to support direct copying. There's nothing more annoying than discovering your data has to be copied from your CDs to your hard drive and then to the writeable CDs.

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