Not all DVD-ROM drives are alike. A silly remark, maybe? Not if you might need read compatibility with the recordable DVD standard, DVD-RAM. To date, we know of very few manufacturers who are shipping DVD-ROM drives which can read DVD-RAM discs. Panasonic’s is the SR-8584 unit, which is packaged for retail outlets as part of the DVD 632 Kit.
The name provides a clue to its specification; this is a DVD 6X drive with 32X CDROM read capability. There are faster DVD ROM drives on the market, but the SR-8584 unit is no slouch. Compared to Hitachi’s GD-2500BX, the Panasonic completed a 400MB multiple file transfer task ten seconds faster, at just under five minutes. However, when asked to read a single long file, there was nothing in it, which confirms that both have the same basic ‘spin’ speed, but the Panasonic is slightly quicker at track-to-track operations.
The Panasonic drive is unremarkable to look at. Its plain un-badged fascia, which, incidentally, is different to the one shown on the box, sports the bare minimum of a headphone socket with volume control and a disc eject button. Other manufacturers have stretched to a music CD track selection button. A plus point is that the drive can be mounted sideways if required as there are pop-out catches in the tray mechanism to stop a CD falling out. It should be noted that you can’t load a DVD-RAM cartridge in the drive – you need to have a type of DVD-RAM cartridge where the enclosed disc, which is the same size as a CD, is removable.
Panasonic is aiming the DVD 632 Kit at people looking to upgrade from CDROM or from a DVD-ROM drive which doesn’t support DVD-RAM. The kit is supplied with comprehensive illustrated fitting instructions and drivers for older versions of Windows. If you have an up to date Windows 95 or 98 PC, the drive will be recognised automatically as a typical IDE device and won’t require additional drivers. You also get a data cable and a sound card cable, plus fixing screws, but no additional software or a DVD decoder.
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