CyberDrive CD-RW hits 52X

CyberDrive USA has released one of the fastest budget CD-R/RW drives ever: an internal 52X CD-R/RW drive priced at under US$100.

The drive can both read and write to CD-R at 52X, and it writes to CD-RW at 24X. It comes bundled with Ahead Software AG's Nero Burning ROM software and uses SuperLink buffer underrun technology to avoid write errors caused by an empty buffer.

CyberDrive touts the price as the drive's exceptional feature. A quick search on PCWorld.com's Product Finder unveiled other 52X drives, but all were priced at least twice as high as that. And CyberDrive will hold the price record for awhile, notes Tin Wu, company president.

Wu also believes that 52X is the end of the line for the race to build faster and faster CD drives. "I feel this will be the maximum speed," he says. Part of the reason is the recent concern about discs shattering under the stress of a fast-moving drive.

Unsafe at What Speed?

But many people in the industry contend that 52X is past the end of the line. Writing at that speed requires spinning the CD above 10,000 rpm, creating a great deal of physical stress on the disc. Some discs have broken apart in such drives.

A number of other drive manufacturers, including Plextor, currently refuse to take their drives past 48X. Plextor Corp. Vice President Howard Wing notes that the difference between 52X and 48X "will save you about 7 seconds...Why sacrifice write quality for 7 seconds?"

While most companies avoid the dangers of 52X recording, CyberDrive sees it as an opportunity. The company doesn't even offer a 48X drive--it has nothing between 40X and 52X. Wu acknowledges that he sees a commercial advantage in offering the fastest drives in their price range. In the marketplace, "the bigger number works better," he says.

CyberDrive believes that it has found a technical solution to the problem of shattering CDs. The drive is designed to hold the disc locked tightly into place so that it won't shake or break, according to a CyberDrive spokesperson.

Concerns about exploding discs aren't new, notes Katherine Cochrane, a consultant who specializes in CD-R media. "They were saying that back in the days when 16x was being developed," she says.

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