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-- by Marc Spiwak
In math class, doubling the speed of an object meant cutting its travel time in half. Not so with TEAC's new 4x4 CD-R50S CD-Recordable drive. Though it claims 4x4 speed, its actual recording speed is nowhere near that fast.
The drive has a Fast SCSI-2 interface and a 1MB buffer; it supports packet writing and single-session, multisession and incremental recording.
It also supports all the most common disc formats, as well as most popular CD authoring programs, such as Easy-CD Pro, CD Creator, Elektroson GEAR and Astarte Toast.
We tested the drive in a 200MHz Pentium with 32MB of RAM. The CD-R50S ships with a Plug-and-Play AdvanSys ABP5140 ISA SCSI controller that was very easy to set up. We installed the drive in a 5.25-inch external bay. On boot-up, Windows 95 automatically detected the drive, and it was fully operational.
TEAC credits the 4X reader with an average access time of 220 milliseconds and data-transfer rate of 600KB per second. Quarterdeck's CD Certify Pro showed the access time to be a bit slower, at 268ms, with a data-transfer rate of 614KBps, all with a low 9 percent CPU load. TEAC also specifies a transfer rate of 600KBps for writing data. But it took about 25 minutes for us to record a disc with 546MB of data-hundreds of individual files-equating to a transfer rate of 364KBps. That's closer to 2X speed than it is to 4X. A single 30MB file took 65 seconds to record, for a transfer rate of 462MB per second (about 3X)
TEAC bundles CD-recording software with the drive, and we used it to record several discs. None of the discs we recorded had any trouble being read on any of several different drives. However, the TEAC 4x4 refused to record on Maxell high-speed blanks intended for 2X and 4X drives, though we've used those discs on other drives. It had no trouble with any of the other blank discs we tried.
The TEAC CD-R50S is more expensive than the Plasmon Afterburner CDR4240e-PC on our WinList, and it doesn't offer true 4X speed as billed. Because the Afterburner 2X CD-R drive is a better buy than the Teac CD-R50S, it remains our choice for the WinList.