I like to try and keep up with technology as I find some of it to be very interesting indeed, although I have come across some stuff that should not be put in the same category as technology, but that's another matter.
One piece of technology that I have been trying out recently is in fact a sleek, slim and very portable CD/DVD player/recorder, which is from a rather well known, and quite well respected company called Freecom, with this particular drive being called the Freedom FS, and when they say freedom they really do mean 'freedom'
Firstly, the reason I have been using this particular drive is down to the fact that I have been working on repairing a few 'netbooks' over the passed few month, with most of them needing to have a complete re-installation of the rather bizarre, and may I say pretty useless, Operating System they like to call windows 7 starter, (what's all that about then Microsoft???).
But as the netbooks have no internal DVD drive trying to re-install an OS can be a bit tricky, and a very slow process using pen drives and the like. So I got my hands on this particular dvd drive to get the job done in a fraction of the time.
** Let's get the technical mumbo jumbo out of the way with first...
It has a thin grey plastic casing which gives it its petite size, that being 144mm x 140mm x 170mm and weighing in at a mere 600g.
It writes onto CD's and DVD's, at speeds of 24x, reading at a speed of 8x and is powered my a USB connection, which has a double socket on the computer end for that faster speed.
It is what they call 'hot swappable', which means that you can just take out the USB cable without having to go through the process of shutting it down before removing, then.
To run this on your PC you will need at least either a PC running windows 98SE or later, or MacOS 9.1 or later. Your computer will need the minimum of a 700MHz processor, 128MB RAM and at least 400MB of hard drive space.
It is powered by the USB port, rather than a mains lead, thus eliminating extra wires when moving around.
Plus, just in case of any trouble with the tray sticking, there's a manual eject button which can be access using a pin or something like that.
** MY OPINION...
As I said, Freecom are a well known company that specialise in such things as internal hard drives, external hard drives, hard drive docking stations and more, and as I have used their products before, finding them all to be quite good quality indeed, I assumed that this would be the same sort of nice experience, and I was not wrong at all.
This dvd drive is a lovely size, being a lot smaller than many other drives which make it a lot easier to slot into a laptop case, or even just into a good sized pocket. It is in fact about as big and bulky as carrying a stack of four, maybe five, DVDs in your pocket, with a bit of a edge around them.
The casing itself feels a bit flimsy, which you may think would let it down slightly considering that it is to be moved around with you and should therefore feel a little sturdier, but I have been using it for a while now and the case has not broken or cracked so maybe the fragile feel is just, well, just the feel.
Connecting it to the PC took seconds, with each netbook is was working on instantly finding the drivers so that I could get to work using the drive to re-install the OS. ( I did have to go into the netbook systems first to make sure that they would read the disc drive first when booting up but this is a different matter). But once the drivers were found the rest was, well child's play really
Apart from using it to install things I have also used it to burn things too, which, depending on the program used, is as easy as pressing a few buttons and a bit of waiting. But as this can be used along side other USB drives which may be plugged into your PC without slowing anything down, (depending on your CPU and system of course, and whether your PC has more than two USB ports), that bit of waiting can fly by.
I have mentioned the dual USB input method haven't I? if I haven't then the lead that is supplied with this drive has two USB heads on one end, which plugs into your PC, and the other end plugs into the drive itself. The dual head method really does help speed up the process of reading/writing as I have tried using a single head and found that the process is slower, but it still works regardless so if your PC has only one USB port then don't worry about the second head on this lead, it's only for speed. But as most PC's have more than one port then the speed shouldn't be a factor.
I've used cheaper dvd drives before, such as a Samsung SE and even a Duronic, which are really a fraction of the price of this modal, but the speed and the overall quality is the reason why this one cost more than they did. Although the price for this is a bit hefty, even if it is one of the smallest and best looking one I have used in a long while.
As for the type of discs that you can use, well this can accommodate most CD's and DVD's, RW, R, both + and -, although the leaflet that came with it states that it won't be happy burning onto DVD-R, but I've tried it and had no troubles at all.
As for the actual speed of reading and writing, well this is pretty quick indeed, considering the slimness and size of this little unit, burning a 4.7GB disc.
It may not be as fast as internal drives, taking quite a bit longer to write a full 4.7GB DVD than normal, but the outcome is just as good, and for those netbooks without an internal drive this one is a cracking one to add to your netbook bag as it won't weigh you down at all.
As for the price, well this is a bit on the naughty side, especially as there are a lot of lower price units out there that do more or less the same job, but the price for wanting a slim, easily portable and rather fetching CD/DVD drive is around the £90.00 region, although I have seen it around £70.00 on offer.
So it's a choice of spending less for a bulkier unit, which may work as well but maybe not for as long, and probably won't fit into your netbook bag, or spend a bit extra and have the opportunity to carry this around with you were ever you co.