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Hardware Review of:
Yamaha LightSpeed CD-RW Recorder
CRW 2100E 16X/10X/40X/40X


Dale Swafford leads a CD/DVD Burning Study Group and teaches a CD/DVD Recording Burner class. He also writes a monthly column about the subject for the PC Alamode.

From the June, 2003 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

Well, itís something all of us expect to happen eventually, but two weeks past the end of the one year warrantee period? Is that engineering, or what! Yep, my primary burner died. And Acer said, donít even think about sending it back to fix the laser, itís gone - get over it, get on with finding a new burner. Some support.

Now I have always been an unashamed bottom feeder when it comes to being content to shop for my bargains for second or third generation down from the latest and greatest. I picked-up that crappy Acer burner at a BestBuy Christmas sale a year ago for $150.00. Hard to believe that was a real bargain for a 4/4/32 IDE 2nd generation burner only a year ago. This week, Circuit City has a 4/4/24 burner for $70.00 after rebates. And donít turn your nose up at Digital Research either. My first burner, a Digital Research 2/2/6 is still going strong after more than two years. Itís not fast, but it gets the job done. Digital audio extraction (DAE) at 3X does limit its use as an audio reader. Yes, it cost $150.00 on sale. Starting to see a pattern here?

Well, this time I planned to shop smart. So I hit the net hard to find articles from sources that I respect. Surprisingly, there is a bunch out there. Disregarding the fluff articles like in PC Magazine, most of the writers seem to think the Plextor 12/10/32 EIDE burner with Sanyo Burn Proof was the 400 pound gorilla. The TDK 12/10/32 VeloCD is about the same because it uses the Plextor burner unit and Sanyo Burn Proof. So, itís time to dust off my favorite shopping bots and put Ďum to work. Likity split and MySimon was spitting out some unbelievably low prices. Have you ever noticed how a bunch of retailers offer something thatís hot at really low prices ($197.00)? When you check the site, itís out of stock or back ordered. Whatís that about? Anyway, it came down to $230.00 plus $7.00 shipping and handling from Egghead with immediate shipping for the Plextor or TDK. Remember, that was the middle of January '01 and the 16X Plextor model hadnít been announced yet. Lookení good! Well, maybe a look at just one more source, just to make sure. So, over to Computer Shoppers shopping bot. Pretty well confirmed Egghead was the best deal that day.

But then from that cro-magnum region of the brain, emerged this crazy idea. Why not check the best price for the king of the hill (speed wise)? What the heck! Why not? Re-enter the Yamaha 16/10/40 and send the CS bot on its way. Sort by price and there it was, $225.00 plus $15 S&H by air, in stock and shipping. Then I started getting that strange creeping and crawling sensation on my back. Oh no! The digital speed monkey was on my back. Everyone knows, that when the speed monkey grabs you, you’re not responsible for your actions. Next thing I remember, three days later I was holding a Fed Ex box in my sweaty hands and charging madly up the stairs to put this speed demon thru its paces. The Acer came flying out, and gingerly, the LightSpeed was secured in its place. Three cables were attached and the computer booted up. Windows did its thing and a setup CD added Fast Audio Rip. I already have Easy CD Creator 4 Deluxe.

The waiting was over, it was time to let that bad boy rip! I had some wav files on my hard disk that Iíd been working with so why not find out what burning at 16X felt like. To my surprise, Easy CD creator 4 wouldnít recognize the burner. It needed an upgrade. So, I opened old faithful Nero. No sweat. Had those wav files identified, checked the burn properties, inserted a 12X CD-R, set that burn speed at 16X without simulation (flying without a parachute), and punched that burn button. Did that bugger ever start screaming. About half way thru the burn, the impossible happened. The boo sound blasted out, the disc door opened, and an error message was staring me in the face. My system would only support a 15X burn. I thought that eight megabyte buffer in the burner was supposed to preclude burning coasters. Musta been a glitch. So much for the Waste-proof Write Strategy. I ran the speed test. Digital audio extraction came up 15x (twice). Unbelievable! I backed the burn speed down one notch to 12X, loaded a blank disc, hit burn and created a great music CD in less that a third of the old time.

So the write speed was going to be 12X, rather than 16X. Time to check out the rewrite speed. I downloaded the DirectCD upgrades and went looking for a 10X CD-RW. If the stores have any, they want an arm and a leg. Maybe for the time being, Iíll just settle for my 4X CD-RWs that I got on sale. They do the job. So the 10X is limited to 4X by the discs. RWs cut you no slack!

The drive is supposed to read data at 40X. The ECDC4 speed test said my system would only support 20X. So lets review the bidding here. The Yamaha is supposed to do 16X record. My system only supports a 12X burn. The Yamaha is supposed to rewrite at 10X which I am limited to 4X by the discs. The Yamaha data read speed is supposed to be 40X. Iím not sure it wonít do that. When you load a data disc with a cover, it sounds like a mixmaster. What a racket when the CAV technology kicks in. Sounds like a turbine engine spooling up. But, it does the job. The Yamaha is supposed to RIP at 40X. I donít know what that is, so itís probably true. I do know ECDC4 and Nero measured the digital audio extraction at 15X. Fast Audio Rip extracts the music files in about half the time of drag and drop, and gives a good clean sound.

Bottom line: This is going to be some kinda shake down cruise. Iím currently trying to keep Fast Audio Rip and Creative Labs CD Player from fighting every time a CD is loaded. That 16X burn is the next challenge. Ainít it fun?

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