Philips – J32RWDV Jackrabbit review

USB CD-RW and DVD combo drive
Photo of Philips – J32RWDV Jackrabbit
£199 + VAT

Here’s an odd thing. Philips has released an external USB 2.0 combo drive called the Jackrabbit. Its official model code is the J32RWDV but both the box and the drive itself carry the word ‘Jackrabbit’ and a cartoon of a goofy rabbit. Hey, those crazy Dutch.

A combo drive can be very useful as it handles the duties of both a CD-RW and a DVD-ROM drive, but they tend to be expensive so most PC owners simply install two drives and save money. Where that’s not an option – due to lack of drive bays, for example – the combo drive is a useful solution.

Philips has worked hard to add features that you simply don’t get with standard optical drives. For one thing the Jackrabbit works with both PC and Mac, so the system requirement are quite lengthy at: Windows 98SE/ Me/ 2000/ XP or Mac OS X on a Pentium III 500MHz CPU with 128MB RAM and a USB port. Of course Philips also supplies software that works with both PC and Mac, so you get
Roxio Easy CD Creator, Direct CD, Toast 5 for Mac and Power DVD for movie playback.

The drive is also interesting in that it is covered with ports for the power brick, USB 2.0, headphones, audio out, S-video out and CVBS video out. On the right side of the drive is a blue button that gives one touch access to the Internet through your PC, so you can check for firmware and software updates.

In the box you’ll find cables to connect the Jackrabbit to your TV and your PC sound card. It is fairly clear that this drive is targeted at PC and Mac users who want to watch DVD movies as well as write CDs for music or data transfer. This could be particularly useful for owners of thin and light notebooks which don’t have an optical drive built-in.

To reinforce the movie-watching capabilities of the Jackrabbit, Philips includes a small infra-red remote control so you can control the drive from the comfort of your armchair. And yes, the remote also carries the bunny cartoon motif.

The weakest part of the Jackrabbit is its CD writing capability, as the drive is rated at 32x CD-R, 10x CD-RW, 40x CD-ROM and 12x DVD-ROM. Of course that’s using USB 2.0 and the speeds will drop significantly if you use the older USB 1.1 interface. There’s no doubt that 32x is quite brisk for a CD-R but these days the fastest drives run at 50x, which could be a consideration if you burn CDs regularly.

Company: Philips

Contact: 01756 702892

This is a novel product, and to our mind its range of features is unique. If you have been unable to add a DVD-ROM or CD-RW drive to your PC or Mac, and you want the drive to be portable too, you should take a close look at the Jackrabbit. It's not cheap but it is clever.