As you can see, this drive is a bit more expensive than the Plextor unit, and the main reason for this is the type of interface used. Where the Plextor uses IDE, this Mirai unit has a SCSI connector at the rear, which is more suitable for use in professional systems. Previously, SCSI was the interface of choice partly because it offered better data transfer and fewer buffer under-runs. That might not be true now, but serious users still tend to gravitate to this interface.
Installation was easy for us, as we already had a SCSI adapter installed in our test machine. Almost inevitably, new users without SCSI adapters will find the process tricky and not much fun, but the likely target audience for this drive is probably not going to be too troubled.
After installation of the drive and the Nero CD authoring software (which we rather like, if only for the implications of its name), we were up and running. Copying and CD creation was easy, even on a PC connected to a network and even while simultaneously browsing the Web. This technology really works.
Record and re-write speed are not specified for this drive, but we’d estimate they are around 10x, as copying a CD took 11 minutes with this unit compared to 9 with the Plextor. Read speed is ‘up to 32x’; as with the Plextor, the likely average is around 20-speed, which is quite enough, thank you. The drive package includes a PCI SCSI card, one each of CD-R and CD-RW media, cables, software and even a pen for writing on the finished CDs.To be honest, this brace of drives barely merits the name ‘group test’ (we’re not even sure if two can really be a group), but we’ve reviewed these two drives at once because they represent a significant step forward in the development of CD-R technology. We’d use the phrase ‘quantum leap’, but that means something really small, so we won’t. It’s not a paradigm shift, either, because that’s marketing drivel. No, it’s definitely a significant step forward.
Both the drives tested here represent the latest developments in CD-R/RW and include a new technology developed by Sanyo; ‘BURN-Proof technology’. In this context, BURN stands for Buffer Under-RuN, a reference to the error message so hated and feared by would-be CD duplicators and creators. Previously, writing a CD-R or RW has been vulnerable to any system interrupts. For example, your screen saver cuts in and the buffer on the CD-R drive is compromised, a buffer under-run occurs and the disk you’re writing is junk. Or a coffee coaster at best.
Manufacturers have tried to help by fitting bigger and bigger buffers, with some of the fastest drives having up to 8MB of onboard memory. Sanyo has developed its new technology to overcome this completely. Instead of attempting to keep the buffer full at all times during the write, this system ensures that if the buffer empties, the CD-R stops writing to the blank disk. It then retraces the last moments of the write and, when the buffer is full, restarts the burn at exactly the correct spot. Makes sense, really.
Now let’s see if it works. Click the ‘NEXT’ link below to find out more.Sanyo’s BURN-proof technology looks set to revolutionise CD authoring. Unless a drive is BURN-proof, then it’s effectively old technology. Both these drives performed flawlessly in our tests, and the benefit, compared with the tweaks needed to get older drives to copy properly, is pretty obvious. No disabling all background software, no unplugging network cables, no switching off screen savers, and no holding your breath while tip-toeing gently away after pressing the ‘Burn’ button. It’s the way CD writing should be.
To summarise, the choice here is pretty simple. If you have, or want, a SCSI adapter then the Mirai is a great choice, otherwise the PlexWriter was slightly faster in our tests and runs on a stand IDE bus. Doubtless many more drives will be available over the coming months.Of the two drives, it’s this one that’s likely to find its way into desktop machines, particularly at home. This is because it uses the IDE interface, while the Mirai drive uses SCSI instead. The use of IDE/ATAPI means that this drive can easily be installed in the place of an existing IDE CD-R drive, or even a CD-ROM drive for that matter, with the minimum of fuss, configuration changes or jumper settings.
Once installed, all you need to do is set up the supplied WinOnCD authoring software and you’re away. We found this software pretty good, although our personal preference would be for the Nero package supplied with the Mirai drive, simply because of its ease of use and specialist features.
With everything installed, we started the test process, and were immediately impressed by the durability of this new writing process. It was even possible to produce a perfect On-the-Fly copy of a CD at the full speed whilst running Scandisk on the hard drive – very impressive, and unheard of with older drives.
As you can tell from the name, the PlexWriter supports 12x write, 10x rewrite and ‘up to 32x’ read operations, so it’s no slouch in any mode. Included in the box is one blank CD-R disk, one blank CD-RW disk, an audio cable and the software.
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