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Toray Phasewriter Dual
Phasewriter Dual Does Double-Duty
-- by Marc Spiwak
You'll get double the functionality for your money with the Toray Phasewriter Dual, a 650MB optical media drive and a 6X CD-ROM drive packed into a 5.25-inch internal package. This unit costs about the same as many lower-capacity rewritable drives, but its dual personality provides far more functionality. Pricing hasn't been set yet on this model, but a similar unit with a 4X CD-ROM drive is selling for $299.
The Phasewriter Dual (PD) is not a magneto-optical drive-there's nothing magnetic about it.
An MO, or magneto-optical drive, combines magnetic and optical technologies in a single unit. It uses a laser to heat special magnetic media on an MO disk to the point where a relatively weak magnetic field can rewrite the data. When the laser is removed, the material cools and the data is more or less fixed, and can't be damaged by stray magnetic fields.
The Toray PD media, on the other hand, has a translucent crystal layer that normally reflects very little light. To write data, a laser heats the crystal layer to the point where it becomes more reflective, and it remains in that state after the laser is removed. To erase data, the laser heats the layer to the point where the crystals change back to a translucent state. The PD media is rated at greater than 500,000 cycles.
The drive uses a SCSI interface, and the SCSI ID is set by adjusting the jumper switches on the back of the drive. Another jumper terminates the drive if it's the last device on the SCSI chain.
Once the device was installed, Windows 95 automatically detected both the CD-ROM drive and the PD drive, performed a complete setup and provided separate drive icons for each. The unit's single motorized disc tray accepts a regular CD without a caddy or a 650MB rewritable data cartridge. An LED turns orange when PD media is inserted and green with a CD.
Blank 650MB data cartridges for the PD cost approximately $40, or about 6 cents per megabyte. Seagate Backup software for DOS and Windows comes with the unit.
Toray claims the Phasewriter Dual CD-ROM drive has an average seek time of 195 milliseconds and a data-transfer rate of 900KB per second for the CD-ROM drive. Quarterdeck's CD Certify Pro confirmed a measured seek time of 188ms and a transfer rate of 923KBps.
The optical read/write drive, according to Toray, has an average seek time of 165ms and a transfer rate between 518KBps and 1141KBps. To determine the actual transfer rate, I copied a 31MB file to the PD drive. It took 2 minutes, 28 seconds-that's 207KBps.
Next, I copied the same file back to the hard drive in 26 seconds-about 1.2MBps. Using approximately 266MB worth of various file types and sizes, it took 34 minutes to copy data to the PD drive and 4 minutes 50 seconds to copy it back to the hard drive, resulting in a write transfer rate of 130KBps and a read transfer rate of 917KBps.
The Phasewriter Dual's performance numbers aren't great, but they're fine for the intended applications, including transporting, archiving and backing up data. As one of the most versatile removable-media drives I've tested, the PD earns a spot on our Recommended List.
Copyright (c) 1997 CMP Media Inc.