AOpen's CRW-1232 pushes to the forefront of CD speeds

AOpen's CRW-1232 pushes to the forefront of CD speeds

By J.B. Miles

Special to GCN

The component manufacturer for the Acer Group, AOpen America Inc., recently unveiled the CRW-1232, billing it as 'the world's fastest CD-RW drive.'

That claim could be disputed by Ricoh Corp., whose MediaMaster MP7120A boasts the same speed specs as the AOpen product. Whether or not it's the world's fastest, the CRW-1232 clearly is in the fast lane.

The CRW-1232 offers the same 32X CD-ROM read speed as many of its competitors, but ups the typical 4X or 8X ante for CD-R write speeds to 12X and the pedestrian CD-RW rewrite speeds to 10X. The 12X write speed lets users write an entire 650M CD-R disk in just more than six minutes.

The CRW-1232 came to market too late for me to test drive it for this guide, but it looks impressive on paper. The company is promoting it as a fast desktop backup device for important files and data. It's a politically correct promotion, given recent court decisions concerning the pirating of music over the Internet.

But AOpen bundles software with the CRW-1232 that brings music lovers MP3 file coding and lots of other video and audio performance goodies.

Either way

The CRW-1232 supports the Enhanced IDE interface and is an internal unit that can be mounted horizontally or vertically, making it compatible with both desktop and minitower configurations.

Tips for buyers
' While rewritable DVD technology struggles to maturity, CD-RW technology is at hand at an affordable price.
' External drives are more flexible than internal drives.
' There is no longer any appreciable performance difference between SCSI and Enhanced IDE optical drives.
' Good bundled software will make operating your CD-RW drive simple and fun.
'The Universal Serial Bus 2.0 specification will likely bring many more USB CD-RW drives to market.

It has a 4M data buffer for boosting drive performance and offers an access time of about 120 milliseconds.

AOpen cited an honest rated time between failures of 50,000 hours, but said its proprietary Optimum Power Control technology will give the unit a higher rating. OPC continuously monitors signal levels during recording and adjusts laser power to compensate when the disk is dirty. This ensures a flat signal, which at least in theory enhances the CRW-1232's reliability.

The new drive supports just about every CD format in existence, including CD-Audio, CD-ROM Modes 1 and 2, CD-ROM/XA, CD-I, Photo-CD, Video CD, CD-Extra and I-Trax CD.

Track-at-once, disk-at-once, multisession and packet writing modes are all supported as well.

The AOpen CRW-1232 is compatible with Microsoft Windows 9x, NT and 2000 operating systems, as well as with Microsoft Plug and Play. It comes with CD-R and CD-RW disks and software. It's priced at about $329.

The CRW-1232 may be difficult to find. AOpen sells only through authorized resellers, and it's been my experience that resellers have been slow to introduce new AOpen drives to the market.

J.B. Miles of Pahoa, Hawaii, writes about communications and computers.


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