Amacom – Baby CDRW review

portable CD writer with multiple interfaces
Photo of Amacom – Baby CDRW
£205.00 (plus £20.95 for PCMCIA cable, £22.95 for USB cable, £47.95 for FireWire cable, £25.95 for

Amacom is a company that likes playing around with removable storage; witness the Flipdisk gadget. The Baby CDRW is based on the same idea – removable storage with various different interfaces – but as the name suggests, this drive uses a CD-rewriter mechanism rather than a hard drive.

Why would you need such a thing? We could pluck a couple of likely scenarios out of the air. Perhaps you need one for archiving data from a notebook. Perhaps you’re an IT manager, looking after several machines, and the occasional low-volume backup drive would be useful. Perhaps your machine has no spare drive bays for an internal CD-RW drive. Perhaps you just like gadgets.

What you get is a very compact CD-RW drive, about the size of a portable CD audio player, that’s based on a Teac mechanism. This can handle writing and re-writing at 4-speed, and can also read CDs at 20-speed. Various interfaces are available, and none come as standard, so you’ll have to choose at least one when you buy the drive. We played with the USB version, and found that installation involved nothing more than plugging in the drive and using the supplied driver disk (floppy, sensibly, since you may not have a CD drive…). Then we were up and away.

Well, almost. The drive only actually appears as a drive letter when a CD is inserted, which confused us to start with (not hard, frankly), after we’d installed the drivers but nothing seemed to happen. But apart from that, everything works as it should. We were able to read CDs in the drive and run applications from them, and, of course, create and copy CD-R and CD-RW volumes.

The drive we tested came with the Nero CD creation software, which is painless to use; we were able to duplicate CDs (of our own copyright, officer) using the Baby CDRW as both source and target drive – temporary CD images are written to the hard drive in this case, so you don’t even need a separate CD source drive. Full speed – i.e. 4-speed or 600kb/sec – writing was possible, with no buffer under-run problems or other CD-wrecking errors.

Company: Amacom

Contact: 020 8993 7373

The Baby CDRW is about twice the price of a decent internal CD-RW drive, which isn't that much considering its flexibility. If you buy all the available cable interfaces it would cost you another £120 or so (our considered advice - don't buy 'em all), but the flexibility this offers is great if you have several PCs and want to transfer data between them on cheap CD-R and CD-RW disks.