Not long ago, CD-RW drives were considered a luxury. Then, the MP3 craze swept college dorms and came to rest in the average household. The ability to play music on demand through a computer sound system was novel, but taking that music on the road seemed far more practical. Of course, the only way to get a custom mix was to convert the music into .wav format and burn the large files onto a disc. Writable optical drives quickly became popular, simultaneously decreasing in price and increasing in speed. Suddenly, CD-RW drives could be found in enthusiast systems and home PC?s alike.
The first generation of drives was notorious for excruciating burn-times and the knack for ruining CDs, or creating what many affectionately refer to as a ?coaster.? Nowadays, discs can be burned in a matter of minutes and without the risk of buffer under-runs. Internal drives commonly run at 48x speeds and may even include DVD-read capabilities. On the other hand, external drives have historically been limited by the I/O interface, though they offer greater flexibility. Plextor?s latest CD-RW drive is unique in that it complies with the USB 2.0 specification, can burn discs at 8x, re-write information at 8x and read DVD discs at 8x speeds. And, the whole package is small enough to tuck into a laptop case. The multi-purpose PleXCombo drive may not stack up to it?s internal competitors with regard to speed, but you can?t argue with a device that lets you copy a Metallica track in the library and watch Heat at 35,000 feet, can you?
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| Specifications of the PlexCombo 8/8/24-8U |
| Covering All of the Bases |
| Total Solution features |
- USB 2.0 Interface
- 4-in-1 drive: 8x CD-R, 8x CD-RW, 24x max CD-ROM, 8x DVD-ROM
- Windows 98/2000/ME/XP Compatible, MAC OS (MAC software not included)
- Buffer Under Run proof technology
- Dark colored CD tray minimizes jitters
- <150ms Average CD Random Access
- <150ms Average DVD Random Access
- 2 MB Buffer
- Capable of Digital Audio Extraction at 24x max
- Supports CD-DA; CD-ROM (Mode 1); CD-ROM (Mixed Mode); CD-ROM XA; CD-I; Photo CD; Video CD; CD-Extra; CD Text
- Flash ROM allows for easy upgrade over the Internet
Supports Disc-at-Once, Track-at-Once, Session-at-Once, Variable & Fixed packet writing modes
USB 1.1 interface performance is limited to 4x write, 4x re-write and 6x read speeds. DVD playback is limited to .7x
Minimum Systems Requirements
CPU: Pentium II 350MHz or equivalent
USB 2.0 connector is required to achieve 8x write, 8x re-write, 24x read and 8x DVD read speeds
How to enable DMA inside operating system. Refer to your motherboard manual on how to set PIO Mode or DMA Mode.
Sound Card: For audio playback
Graphics: 800x600 display, 16-bit color
The PleXCombo drive comes with plenty of software to entice the average home user. First, Plextor has included Easy CD Creator 5 Basic, which provides the means to burn an audio CD, data discs or a disc backup. The complete version of Easy CD Creator adds a few more audio options and the ability to burn a video CD, though it costs $70 to make the upgrade. Home users will appreciate the simple interface, but an application like Ahead Software's Nero Burning ROM would have delivered more power to hardware enthusiasts. Additionally, the 2-speaker version of Cyberlink's PowerDVD XP is included. Next to WinDVD, PowerDVD has evolved into one of the most powerful DVD playback applications. Audio enthusiasts with multi-channel audio systems need to use the S/PDIF pass-through, as the included version is limited to 2-speaker output. The DVD package is completed by hardware acceleration through chipsets like ATI's RADEON and the NVIDIA GeForce family. Another useful utility is SimpliCD, which is very similar to the standard Windows XP CD burning interface. Windows Millennium and Windows 2000 users will appreciate the simple drag-and-drop program for quick burning, though.
Quality, Features and Nero