Ricoh’s MP9060A is one of the first drives available to read DVD and CD discs, as well as being able to write CD-Rs and CD-RWs. To do this it uses two different lasers, with different wavelengths and powers, for the different types of media. The drive is easy to fit, sliding into any available 5.35-inch drive bay, and connection of the cables is easy too.
Bear in mind that if you intend to copy files from another CD or DVD drive to the Ricoh unit, it’s better to put the two drives on separate drive controllers. IDE controllers can’t interleave reading and writing to drives on the same controller and you’re less likely to suffer the writing errors known as ‘buffer under-runs’ if you have the drives working from separate controllers.
The drive has a power-driven tray, so loading and ejecting discs is trouble-free, and controls are provided for eject, track and volume. Software supplied with the drive includes Ahead’s Nero 4 (reviewed here), a comprehensive disc burning utility which recognises the Ricoh drive automatically, and InCD, which extends the operating system to support packet writing on CD-RW discs.
Packet writing is essential if you want to use a CD-RW disc like any other removable media. Using this protocol, you can drag and drop files to and from the CD-RW as if it were a super-sized floppy disk, with a capacity of around 600MB. When you first insert a new CD-RW disc, you’ll have to format it, a process which takes around 18 minutes on a 4-speed rewriter like this one. Subsequent reformatting takes just a few seconds.
The drive is a 6 x 4 x 4 x 24 unit, so Ricoh claims 6-speed recording, 4-speed rewriting, 24-speed CD reading and 4-speed DVD reading. All these speeds are quite adequate and under tests the drive produced good results. Using a variety of different files, from 10KB to 20MB in size, and totalling 100MB, the MP9060A wrote them all in 3 minutes 28 seconds and read them in 1 minute 13 seconds. These are very acceptable times and give similar transfer rates to Zip or Superdisk drives.
The drive comes with single blank CD-R and CD-RW discs and further blanks will cost you around 80p and £1.60 each, respectively, at high street prices.
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