OH NO! MORE EXPENSE! BAH, HUMBUG!! Funny ol' world innit? Only a few days ago, I was wondering why my Yamaha 8424 IDE CD-RW wouldn't work, cursing at the fact that it was a 'good' one when I bought it, costing somewhere in the region £160 three years ago. When you start to add up everything technical that's gone wrong recently, like my £350 Sony DVD 525 player, which lasted just three years, you soon see where the money goes! Then I got to thinking - these two items alone have cost me £3 a week (of my net income) to own in theory. Fortunately, technology redeems itself by moving on, making things cheaper in the process. For example, a replacement DVD player from WH Smiths, weighed in at around fifty quid (and with a two year warranty to boot). RUNNING COSTS 'N' STUFF The Yamaha CD-RW, which was an 8 speed CD-R, 4 speed CD-RW and 24 speed read machine, was, as I've said, a good machine at the time of purchase, but it's replacement, an AOpen CRW5224, is only costing me a shade over £30 (yes thirty!) from www.dabs.com, AND it's got a maximum write speed to CD-R of 52x, making full CD copies possible in just a few minutes, and I do mean a few. AOpen may well be more familiar to you as the makers of motherboards. Even if this machine only lasts the 12-month guarantee period and no longer, it'll only cost me 66p a week to own (as for the DVD player, the most that can cost me is 50p a week thanks to the 2-year warranty). Every month beyond the first year is a bonus for the AOpen, and if it lasts as long as the Yamaha, it'll cost me about 22p a week. Anyway, that's got the skinflint bits out of the way. What's it like to install and use? A BIT OF THE OLD 'IN OUT' Installation is a non-event really, especially if you're replacing an existing drive. You disconnect the old one and remove it - then you put the new one back. Heh presto! One new CD-R
W machine installed. If you're starting from scratch, there are a couple of extra considerations. One is to make sure that you alter the little jumper plug to suit the drive's status in life, i.e. is it the master or the slave on the IDE cable being used. If it's alone, then make it the master. Also, you need to route an audio cable from the drive to your sound card, otherwise audio CDs won't get heard. I've lost count of the number of times I've forgotten to do this, only to find three weeks later, that the lid needs to come off again just so that I can hear the one CD in a blue moon that I play on my PC. The drive also has a digital sound output for systems that actually have provision for SPDIF (just a wild stab in the dark, could this be 'Single Point Digital Interface', anyone?) AH YES, BUT WILL IT WORK FOR ME? The AOPen 5224, being a very recent model may give you one other headache. Can your 2-year-old CD-burning software recognise it? Just to make sure, I visited the Roxio homepage to see if any updates to my Easy CD-Creator 5.0 Platinum were available. As a precaution, I went the whole hog and took not only the main update download, but also, a minor one dated 11/09/2003, which claimed to add still more models to the software's compatibility list. Having done both of these, I'll never know if the last one was needed, but heh ho, it works, so who cares? ANY OLD BOL.....SORRY, ANY OTHER BUSINESS Is it possible for such a cheap bog-standard bit of kit to have any unusual features? Well yes, it is. For one thing, holding down the eject button for 5 -7 seconds will allow the drive to read at its full 52x speed instead of a more stately and less noise-prone 40x. AOPen reckon that letting the drive default to this lower speed prolongs the drive life, and it would be difficult to argue with that. The machine will always drop back to 40x on next use. The
AOpen also has two features known as Justlink and Justspeed. 'Justlink' is their name for 'burn proof technology'. This prevents what is known as a 'buffer under-run', which is a potential source of extra beer mats for parties. Anyone with experience of the first generation of CD-RWs will be familiar with this concept, as older machines could not prevent the wastage of a blank disk, whenever the source of data, maybe, another CD-ROM failed to keep up with the write-speed of the CD-RW machine. The ensuing gap proved to be unbridgeable and caused a 'write-failure', hence another beer mat was brought into this world! 'Justspeed' is a feature that I've not come across before, although maybe all machines do this these days without making a song and dance about it. Justspeed uses the data already stored on the blank CD-R or RW by the manufacturer (yes, even totally unbranded ones are made by SOMEBODY!) to judge whether it would be wise to pursue a policy of writing to them at the maximum speed. If it finds a lower quality disk, it actually reports its own top speed differently to your 'burning' software. I suspect that writing at 52x speed is going to be as rare as rocking horse s**t, since I don't tend to buy branded disks except when they are heavily discounted, but anything over the 8x write speed of the Yamaha is going to be a luxury. I can see there's going to be a world shortage of beer mats soon, although AOL seem to be doing their darndest at sending unsolicited disks in a nice DVD case to just about everyone, so I suppose I could always put them to one side rather than just 'binning' them! By the way AOL, thanks for all the DVD boxes! AH YES, BUT HAVE YOU USED IT YET? Yes I have, and all with no drama, no beer mats, no nuffink. I haven't noticed the Justspeed doing its job, but I've been using decent CD-Rs with a name (!) on them - all step ba
ck in amazement. In the past, I've always had this sneaking suspicion that music CDs written on a very fast machine have the odd crackle on them, but I can't discern anything this time. All in all, it's a very worthy replacement for my Yamaha, now sitting at our dum...sorry, civic amenity site in the defunct electronics section. Hopefully, it'll be a year or two before this one goes the same way!
This is a reliable drive available at a very good price at the moment at (www.dabs.com). I purchased one just a couple of months ago, have used it to burn many cds since then and i have no problems. Easy to install & easy to use. I've burned probably 60-70 cd's on it so far and had no problems with the drive itself, only with pc memory and system resources etc. The main negative observation i have is that it does eject cds rather quickly, this could lead to a wearing down of the open and closing mechanism over time. I think its better to have a slower, smoother motion. Overall, it's a decent drive, however, there are better models in it's class. Bottom line is though, it gets the job done and AOpen seem to be an up & coming pc technology, coming out with some good value products! I don't think you will be able to find a cd writer as good as this one for the same price, the more well known brands are charging a good 20% more for simliar spec drives! *Weight 1.420 Kg *Writes CD-R at 52X & CD-RW at 24X speed *CD reads at up to 52X speed *Just Link Technology *Just Speed Technology