Sony – CDX200E Double-Density CD-RW drive review

1.3GB CD writer with backward compatibility
Photo of Sony – CDX200E Double-Density CD-RW drive
£169 + VAT

CD-RW drives are getting more common as their prices drop and more people realise how useful they are. With a single drive you can produce permanent and rewritable back-ups and copies of work. Although the capacity of 650MB on a single CD-RW or CD-R might seem generous, technology moves on and Sony is the first company to release a double-density version of the CD-RW drive, which it’s calling DD-RW.

Externally, the CDX200E looks little different from a regular CD-RW drive. At the front there’s a powered tray, eject button, volume control and headphone jack, just as you would expect on any CD drive. Similarly, at the back is an IDE data socket, as well as connectors for analogue and digital audio and a standard four-pin power socket.

Installation is straightforward, with the supplied abCD software handling UDF filing for random access CD-RW discs and the less well known Prassi PrimoCD Plus dealing with CD-Rs. This software, which was supplied with a pre-release sample of the drive, may not be the final bundle provided with the drive in the UK.

Both applications work without problem and produce read and write times on CD-RWs and CD-Rs that are well up with competition. Read and write speeds on the double-density discs, which give you 1.3GB of storage space, are very similar to those on single-density media, so you lose little in performance, while gaining quite a lot in convenience.

The drive doesn’t include buffer under-run prevention technology. These systems, the most notable of which is called BURN-Proof, can turn the writing laser head on and off during a write session if the drive’s memory buffer empties of data. In drives without under-run prevention, an empty buffer can lead to a ruined disc. Sony’s provision of an 8MB data buffer on this drive goes some way towards alleviating under-runs and it didn’t suffer any errors during testing.

The CDX200E is rated at 12 x 8 x 32 speed, which is a bit behind the latest 16 x 10 x 40 speed devices, but it can still write a full CD-RW in around 10 minutes and a CD-R in less than that. DD-RW blanks don’t have to be fitted in special caddies, as many DVD-RAM discs do. Although DD-RWs can’t be read or written in a standard CD-RW drive, it may not be long before many machines are fitted with high capacity DD-RW drives and the new format becomes a standard.

Company: Sony

Contact: 0800 262 37669

Sony's CDX200E appears very good value. For under £200 including VAT you get a drive which can do everything a CD-RW can do, but which will also read and write 1.3GB discs, which the company claims will cost around twice the price of a CD-RW blank. The drive doesn't have BURN-Proofing, but the 8MB memory buffer is nearly as good.