All that attention now hogged by 8X DVD±R used to belong to high-speed CD-R. But there's still plenty to go hog wild over in the CD-R space. When CD-R first started to push its way into the speed stratosphere—32X, 40X, 48X, and beyond—it was as mind-blowing as 8X DVD seems today. And if 52X CD-R didn't exactly make our eyes bug out in late 2003, as it did in, say, early 2003, it's still a dynamite desktop workhorse, and one that's far from long in the tooth.
52X is state of the art for CD-R, and a 52X external recorder like TEAC's CDWE552E is a quick and easy add-on to any desktop with CD output needs, and it cranks out disc after disc at a sub-three-minute pace. I broke in a new Belkin USB 2 PCI card on my testbed 2.4gHz Pentium 4 Sony VAIO with the drive, and (like the card), the TEAC installed without incident, appearing instantly as the G: drive on my system. The Roxio Easy CD Creator 5.3 software, always nice to have around, popped up right away too. And I found a good dozen need-filling uses for it. Though ours is hardly the typical desktop CD-R setup—here in the EMedia offices, we swap recorders in and out with unseemly frequency—we burn through CD-Rs like nobody's business. With all kinds of purposes, too, ranging from music compilations to data discs used for backing up, archiving, and sneaker-netting all the bits and pieces of the magazine for which we used to use floppy. In that respect we're probably right in line with the usage volume of our readers. I wish we could say the same for all the DVD±Rs we receive, but they never seem to go as fast.
We tested the TEAC on the above-described P4 VAIO, running Windows XP Home. The TEAC proved adept at audio extraction and all manner of burns on a dozen or so Verbatim media, of the standard DataLife and the oh-so-cool Digital Vinyl variety. The drive ships with Roxio software, features an ample 2MB data buffer, and offers buffer underrun protection for those timid souls who think they need it (and it's no knock on the TEAC to recommend timidity in these parts—with a recorder this fast, not all PCs can keep up, so a little deceleration is always worth it to save a disc). The drive also writes CD-RW at an impressive 24X and supports EasyWrite/Mt. Rainier drag-and-drop recording to CD-RW media for those whose tastes run that way.
Pentium 2 400mHz with 64MB RAM running Windows 98SE/Me/2000/XP
USB 2.0 port (for max speed recording)
1.2MB/sec HDD with 1GB available space.