Pass the Data and the Popcorn, Please

SAN FRANCISCO (05/01/2000) - Back up your hard drive, play and record audio CDs, and watch movies using the same optical drive? That scenario was pure fantasy until Ricoh released the first combination DVD-ROM/CD-Rewritable drive earlier this year (see April New Products, www.pcworld.com/apr00/ricoh_np). Now that product is getting serious competition from the Toshiba Corp. SD-R1002 Combination CD-RW/DVD-ROM Drive. We reviewed a shipping model.

Like the Ricoh drive, the SD-R1002 is rated to write CD-RWs at 4X speed and to read CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs at up to 24X and 4X, respectively. The IDE-based drive writes CD-Recordables at only 4X, compared to the Ricoh drive's 6X, but in most other ways, the new Toshiba drive outperforms its rival. And you're not paying anything extra for the Toshiba drive, either.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a better all-around CD reader than the Toshiba SD-R1002. It installed Microsoft Office 2000 in just 4 minutes 3 seconds, read 430MB of data from CD-R media in 4 minutes 21 seconds, and read 100MB from CD-RW in 1 minute 35 seconds--performance comparable to that of a fast 32X CD-ROM drive.

Toshiba bundles Adaptec's Easy CD Creator 4.02 and DirectCD 3.01 for CD mastering chores and packet writing, so you can treat the CD-RW like a floppy drive. The unit's CD-R and CD-RW performance was average for a 4X/4X drive.

CyberLink's PowerDVD 2.5 software MPEG-2 decoder played DVD movies smoothly, with clear images.

The SD-R1002 carries a one-year warranty, and tech support is available 12 hours each weekday. Calls are on your dime, but the concise, detailed documentation should reduce your need to call. If 4X CD-R speed is fast enough for you, or if you're low on drive space, you'll love the SD-R1002's all-in-one convenience.

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Toshiba SD-R1002 Combination CD-RW/DVD-ROM DrivePRO: A single drive plays DVDs and writes and reads all CD media.

CON: Costs a bit more than separate CD-RW and DVD-ROM drives.

VALUE: Handy if you want the convenience of an all-in-one drive.

Street price: $350

Toshiba America

888/900-1530

www.diskproducts.toshiba.com

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