Interface: FireWire (Oxford 911, 2 ports)
Format: External CD-RW drive
Mechanism: Lite-On 52246S
Access Speed: (average): 80ms
Buffer Size: 2MB
Supported Burning Formats: CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA (both Photo CD and VideoCD), CD-I, CD-Digital, CD-Bridge, Audio CD, CD-Extra and Video CD
Operating systems: Macintosh with FireWire, OS 8.6 and above or Windows 98 or above with FireWire or other OS with FireWire Support.
Case Dimensions: 7.5" x 2.5" x 10.5"
Warranty: 1 year
What I liked: The speed baby! And the price makes it a no-brainer buy.
What I didn't like: Only thing I could think of to complain about is the plain boring beige face plate that seems a little out of place with the attractive case it's in.
WHAT: There is a new crop of fast and furious CD-RW drives clocking in at breakneck 52x speeds that await your CD burning desires. Today, I will take a look at OWC's, (Other World Computing), Mercury Pro 52x24x52x CD-RW External FireWire drive.
THE ARRIVAL: The unit arrived in a plain beige-brown shipping box. The unit was inside another smaller box and was well packed with styrofoam and large bubblewrap. No styrofoam peanuts for me to snack on this time.
PRODUCT FEATURES: The unit came with a simple one-page instruction sheet on setting up the drive. The external FireWire CD-RW drive is rated at 52x24x52x and comes with all cables and software needed - it even includes 26 pieces of media, 25-pack of blank CD-R media and one CD-RW disc with plastic CD case envelopes. Roxio's Toast Lite 5.2. CD-burning software is supplied as well. All this and a one-year warranty to boot.
The case has an attractive design, covered in clear plastic with a sleek silver under-finish that's pleasing to look at. However, the front of the drive is a good "ol beige face plate, which seems a little out of place with the sleek silver case cover. But for a fast CD-RW FireWire drive priced at a little more than $150 (S159.99), I'm not going to complain.
The back of the drive includes two IEEE 1394, FireWire ports, allowing for daisy chaining other FireWire devices and two RCA audio jacks as well as the power connection. The front of the unit comes with your basic eject button, headphone jack and volume dial.
SETTING IT UP: Installation is pretty much as simple as it gets. It consisted of opening the shipping box, taking the unit out of styrofoam and bubble wrap packing, plugging in the power cable, connecting the FireWire cable and installing Roxio'sToast 5.2 CD burning software.
You may not even need to install the software if your current operating system has built-in support for burning CDs. The drive was ready to start burning in no more than 10 minutes from slicing the tape on the shipping box to inserting the first blank media CD disc.
PERFORMANCES: Sit down, hold-on and enjoy the ride! After my first audio CD burn using the Mercury Pro drive, I thought an error had occurred. I'm a scribble-a-name-on-it kind a guy, so before I could finish writing a title on a CD case cover, I looked up and the CD was almost completely burned. No errors at all, just really, really fast - a hair over two minutes from start to finish.
Normally, when burning CDs with my older 8x speed drive, things went a little different. The typical routine would consist of inserting a CD to be burned, proceeding downstairs to make some coffee, washing a load of laundry, changing the oil in my car, counting all the twisted fibers in my shag carpet and then coming back to watch a few more minutes of the status bar complete the burn process - well over nine minutes in most cases.
Needless to say, burning CDs with the Mercury Pro drive was a more than welcome change, the kind of experience that puts a "big-wide-goofy-grin" on your face. Then I went on to burn a 650 megabyte data CD. This time it took a little longer. Total burn time was just under 5 minutes, however, and that's a third of the time I used to have to wait - close to 14 minutes with my older drive.
The OWC Mercury drive blows the old drive out of the water, er ... desktop. All time measurements are based on my current hardware and software system configurations, which consists of a Mac G4 using Mac OS 10.2.3. operating system. Your mileage may vary depending on your system configurations.
It was a real pleasure using, (sharing), this unit with other computers, too. I just unplugged the FireWire unit and plugged it into another FireWire-equipped computer and - voila - another CD burning demon at your beck and call.
SUPPORT: I didn't have a need to contact support, everything was pretty much plug-and-play and worked from the get-go. I didn't encounter any bad burns or even the slightest hiccup in the 24 total CDs I burned, thanks to the Lite-On SMART-BURN Technology.
THE LAST WORD: Tired of watching the seasons change while waiting for your CDs to finish burning? With the speed of this Mercury Pro drive and simple plug-n-play ease at a price that is extremely reasonable, I would say this is a definite buy.
If you're thinking about upgrading to a faster CD-RW drive to record CDs and want an extremely fast way to back-up data on your computer then this, my friend, has your name all over it.
I would like to thank Other World Computing for allowing me to save some valuable time and to "burn that mutha down." You can visit OWC online at: http://eshop.macsales.com
Mad scientist Kent Salas loves technology a little too much sometimes and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (909) 483-8561.