Ricoh's CD-RW drive uses drag-and-drop files for recording

Ricoh's CD-RW drive uses drag-and-drop files for recording

Media Master MP7040A supports an acronymic cornucopia of industry-standard formats, including digital audio CD, the new CD-ROM drives and DVD-ROM drives.

Even with low price and power needs, it takes only about 20 minutes to record a 650M CD-RW disk

By Jason Byrne

GCN Staff

Despite affordable drives and media, the CD-recordable and CD-rewritable market is still out of the mainstream. Yet any user who needs to move around large bits of data, archive files or publish data either internally or externally needs a CD-R or CD-RW drive to do it.

I recently tested the Media Master MP7040A CD-RW drive from Ricoh Corp. and was impressed. Although the drive hardware matters, the secret of good CD recording lies in the software. If it isn't easy to use and reliable, the drive might as well be junk for all the use it will be.

Media compatibility can be almost as important, depending on the intended applications. Buyers should carefully research what media the drive can record, and what drives can read the results.

The MP7040A supports an alphabet soup of industry-standard formats. It can read or write digital audio CD, CD-ROM, CD-Extra, CD-ROM XA, Photo CD, CD-I and Video CD. In addition, CD-R and CD-RW disks made with the Ricoh drive are readable by many of the new CD-ROM drives, as well as DVD-ROM drives.

Whether a disk is readable depends on factors such as media type and disk format. I had good luck reading the disks I created on the MP7040A with all the CD-ROM drives I tried. For some formats, the CD-ROM must be MultiRead-compatible, which is another name for the Random UDF format.

Box Score''''''''

Media Master MP7040

CD-R and CD-RW publisher

Ricoh Corp.;

West Caldwell, N.J.;

tel. 703-317-3290

Price: $295 on NIH ECS II

+Excellent format and media support

+Easy software for long-term archiving

' Not appropriate for backup

Real-life requirements:

Windows 9x or NT 4.0, 166-MHz or faster Pentium, 64M of RAM, 75M of free storage, free 5.25-inch drive bay, available Enhanced IDE interface

Drive installation was easy in a 5.25-inch drive bay with an available IDE connection. I hooked the drive up to the test computer's sound card, installed the software and started recording immediately.

A copy master

There were two applications for writing disks: PacketCD and WinOnCD. WinOnCD is good for common tasks such as copying data CDs and mastering CD-R and CD-RW disks. PacketCD, in contrast, lets you use a CD-R or CD-RW disk much like a hard disk.

In the Random UDF format, I could drag and drop files right onto the MP7040A drive window'the easiest way of recording CDs I've seen to date.

I tested by dragging and dropping everything from small Web images to a 605M compressed file, quickly filling up a CD-RW disk with data instead of puzzling over arcane tricks with publishing software.

Both applications had the power and flexibility to work any way I wanted. Users could do everything from creating a disk image to publishing multiple copies of a single CD to simply archiving files as needed.

With 20X read speed and 4X write speed, the drive not only could record CD-Rs and CD-RWs quickly, it also had enough speed to replace a standard CD-ROM drive. Its 2M buffer and Advanced Technology attachment packet interface delivered a data transfer rate of 16.7 megabytes/sec, so it would take about 20 minutes to record a 650M CD-RW disk.

I still prefer SCSI CD-R and CD-RW drives, because they can handle data so much faster. But considering the lower price and resource requirements of an IDE, the MP7040A would make an excellent choice in many applications.


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