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6/96 Reviews HW: Addonics PCDS-6X

Complete listing of June 1996 reviews

CD-ROM for Roamers

(Editor's Note: The WinMag Box Score: rates products on installation, usability, supporting materials, functionality, performance and utility. Our overall ratings follow this scale: 5,Outstanding or breakthrough product, best of its kind; 4, Exceeds expectations, superior to most competing products; 3, Works well, meets all our expectations, no major problems; 2, Has serious difficulties or limitations; 1, Has critical flaws. A list of recommended products follows the Reviews section.)

By Marc Spiwak

For many people, the simple parallel-port connection of Addonics Technologies' PCDS-6X CD-ROM drive with 16-bit sound will be a boon. If your slimline desktop and a notebook computer are both maxed out and neither has a built in CD-ROM drive, you'll like this handy unit. You can quickly move the drive from one PC to another. I had no trouble getting it to work on three different computers. However, I did have trouble achieving the claimed 900KB-per-second data-transfer rate. The best transfer rate I could do was around 300KBps-about 2X.

To reach the 6X data-transfer rate, according to Addonics, the PCDS-6X must be connected to an enhanced parallel port (EPP). But an EPP can actually implement one of two standards (EPP 1.7 or IEEE 1284), which are not compatible. A newer port standard, an enhanced capabilities port (ECP), can emulate one or both of those formats, but most likely it won't be able to do either one very well.

None of the computers I tried had a parallel port that could satisfy the PCDS-6X. Addonics suggested I try its accessory EPP adapter card, for an additional $39.95. The EPP card was easy to install, although I did have to disable the computer's original parallel port. And it worked, but only to a point. The 6X drive should transfer up to 900KBps, but I achieved only about 600KBps-roughly the same speed as a 4X drive. A newer computer's EPP implementation might work well with the Addonics drive. If not, you'd have to buy Addonics' EPP card for every computer you plan on using the drive with; even then, you'd only get 4X performance. This solution becomes expensive.

The portable CD-ROM drive is available with or without the built-in sound card. Sound quality is good, but nothing state-of-the-art. Jacks on the back of the unit include line-in, line-out, speaker out and microphone in. If data transfer through the parallel port is not up to speed, the audio will start to break up. In addition, when playing video from a CD, the audio is not synchronized with the video.

In short, the PCDS-6X is an easy multimedia add-on, albeit not one of the best performers. A portable multimedia box makes perfect sense some of the time, but for most users, conventional hardware makes more sense most of the time.

Info File
Addonics PCDS-6X
Pros: Installation
Cons: Performance
Platforms: Win 95, 3.1x
Addonics Technologies
800-787-8580, 510-438-6530
WinMag Box Score: 2.5
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