Advantages Slim, lightweight, relatively inexpensive, writes CD's quickly
Disadvantages Noisy, lots of movement whilst reading from drive
Having a laptop without an optical drive meant that I had to go for an external solution. After doing a lot of research, I had a pretty good idea of what was out there for me.A fortuitous trip to Singapore allowed me to get this device at a 30% discount to what I would have paid at home. It is now possible to get these devices on ebay at the same sort of price I paid. And that price is well worth it.
These devices are considerably cheaper than some of the 'name' brand external optical drives such as Iomega and Targus. What this device lacks in high-street crdibility, it makes up for in quality.The drive is, as the name suggests, quiet slim and very portable. It is the length and breadth of a CD, and about 1 1/2 cm's thick. If you get two CD cases and put them on top of each other, then thats pretty much the size of it.
The silver top of the drive is metal, whilst the grey bottom is moulded plastic. The case gives a re-assurig feel of ruggedness. The drawer on the other hand feels a little delicate when you eject it and either remove or insert a CD. The media is held in place by little clips on the centre spindle like those in a CD case, and it takes a little bit of pressure to put the CD in or remove it. When pushing down on the CD, the drawer seems to bend quite a bit. It doesn't instill confidence, but I have been using this drive for over 8 months and with a bit of care, it hasn't shown any problems.Along with the drive itself, you get the PCMCIA interface cable and a power adapter. The interface cable is one source of frustration for me - it is quite short, and not very flexible, so you are very limited as to how you can position the drive in relation to your laptop. With the PCMCIA slots of the left hand side of my machine, I have to have the drive on that side of the machine and close to it, which means I have had to change back to using my mouse right-handed on the other side of the laptop.
The cables together are quiet bulky, and they take up more room in a laptop bag than the actual drive itself does. Unfortunately the PCMCIA interface doesn't provide enough power to the drive itself so you do have to carry the external power supply. I have throught about getting a power cable to run off the USB port into the drive, but haven't actually tried this.The drive is very fast at burning, even with the limitations with my somewhat aged laptop. Due to the fact that I only have 320MB of RAM, I can only burn at 8x speed maximum, but that will still do a full CD in about 5-7 minutes.
The read performance is something different entirely. When reading a data CD, the drive heads seem to do a lot of moving, and that combined with the constant spinning up and down mean that it generates quite a bit of noise. It's not unbearable, but it is noticable. My only concern is that the excessive movement of the heads in the drive will shorten its lifespan, but I guess that will only tell with time.Although I had never had any experience with this brand before i purchased it, I took a punt and it has paid off handsomely. I'm very happy with the drive, and if you are looking for a very small and light external CD writer / DVD-ROM drive, then I can thoroughly recommend this one.
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