CD Burners are getting bigger then ever. They are shipped with 90+% of new systems, even the low budget ones that you can find at your local CompUSA or Best Buy. But what happens when your CD Burner breaks, or it's just not fast enough? There are so many different CD burners, which one do you pick? If you're looking for a low-cost, powerful, and fast CD burner, look no further. Lite-On's 52x24x52x CD-RW drive is perfect.
Of course, if you have a laptop, or use more then one computer frequently, it's nice to have a portable CD-RW drive. Better yet, it's nice to have DVD incorporated into the same drive. This way, even if your laptop doesn't have a CD burner or DVD player, you can enjoy these advanced features. Lite-On sent me two different external drives for review, one is a WriteOn 40x24x40 CD-RW drive, and the other is a 24x12x24x6 CD-RW/DVD drive.
But do they work well? Read onů
Lite-On External 24x12x24x8 CD-RW/DVD Combo Drive
When I got the box containing all three Lite-On drives, the drive I was looking forward to the most was the Slim Combo External Drive. It's fast, small, and has a DVD player built in. What more can I ask for? In the box, I found the drive, a power adaptor, USB cable, and an audio cable. There was also Nero Burning Rom, as well as PowerDVD XP, which is a great package. The drive was packed securely, so it shouldn't break while shipping.
The drive itself is extremely small. It's a couple of inches shorter then an internal CD drive, so you can see that it is great for traveling with. It's about an inch tall, and about 5 inches in width.
In the front of the drive, you'll find the eject button, a LED light, and a emergency eject button. On the back, you'll see a power connector, an Audio Out port, and the USB port. On the bottom, there's a sticker with serial number and model number information. According to this sticker, my drive was manufactured in February of this year, so it's a new product.
Like the WriteOn external drive, installation is extremely easy. Just plug it in to a power source, and then into the USB 2.0 port of your PC, and you're ready to go. You don't need to restart your computer, either.
If you want to use the Nero program for burning CD's, you'll need to put the Nero CD in the drive. A autoplay menu will pop up, with various Lite-On driver options and manuals. You'll also find the installation for Nero and InCD. That's what you need. Once you click there, the Nero installation program started up. After a few clicks and a restart, you'll be ready to burn through Nero.
To view DVD's, you'll need to install a software or hardware DVD encoder if you've never done so before. Hardware DVD encoders are not very common anymore. You can check if you have one. It's a PCI slot on the back of your computer that connects to your graphics card somehow through a cable. If you don't have one, PowerDVD will just do fine. Installing the program is very easy. After you insert the CD, the installation starts up automatically. After following the steps and entering the CD Key, you are ready to go. You can either use PowerDVD or Windows Media Player to view DVD's. Either program works great.
Yet again, I was not impressed with the documentation of the drive. It included one setup poster, and a small piece of paper with safety warnings. There are complete manuals in PDF format on the Lite-On Nero CD, but it is somewhat inconvenient to look at a manual on a computer.
I tested DVD Playback on the Lite-On 24x12x24x8x drive with the Gladiator DVD.
Quality on all scenes of the movie was excellent, and extremely smooth. All colors were sharp and vibrant, and it looked like what any regular DVD player would look like.
Lite-On did an excellent job with the DVD portion of this drive.
Lite-On WriteOn 40x24x40x USB 2.0 CD-RW Drive
When I first opened the box of the Lite-On WriteOn external CD-RW drive, of course I was excited. Once everything was out of the box, I found the drive, a power cable, a USB cable, and an audio cable. I also found a copy of Nero 5 burning software, as well as two blank CD's, one was a CD-R, the other, a CD-RW. The package was secured, so as far as I know, the chances of the drive being damaged during shipping are slim.
The drive itself is very sleek. It's a light shiny silver color on top, and the bottom is black. There's only one button on the unit, which is for ejecting the CD. You 'll also find on top an emergency eject hole, as well as two LED's. On the back of the drive, you'll find the power plug (which looks like a PS2 port), as well as the USB 2.0 port. On the right side of the drive, you'll find a volume control unit, as well as a headphone port.
Installation was extremely straightforward. As long as your USB 2.0 card is set up, all there is to it is plugging in the drive to the power source and to the PC. In about a minute, I was ready to burn. Of course, it's recommended to use the Nero burning software instead of Windows XP integrated software (if you have XP). Nero provides faster speeds with more advanced features. Installation of Nero was a snap.
Once I put in the Nero CD, an Lite-On autoplay menu popped up. There were various choices of things to view or install. First off was the Internal CD-RW Drive Utility. Here, you can copy drivers to a floppy for DOS use, or view the user's manual. Next up was the External CD-RW Drive Utility. Here I found drivers for external CD burners. Next on the list was to install Nero and InCD. You'll then find the Nero Quick Start Manual, Install Acrobat Reader, and finally, exit.
You want to choose Nero Burning ROM if the drive is working properly. Otherwise, you can install drivers for the drive in the External CD-RW Drive menu. Once "Install Nero" is selected, the Nero installation started up. It's just like any installation. After a restart, you're all ready to go.
WriteOn 40x24x40x USB 2.0 CD-RW DriveOnce again, like the internal drive, documentation was weak for this drive. All they included was a Windows 98 USB driver disk, a small installation poster, and a small piece of paper with some safety notices. I can't say that I was very impressed in this department.
Lite-On Internal 52x24x52x CD-RW Drive
Let's take an overview of Lite-On's internal 52x24x52 CD-RW features, shall we?
When I found the package containing the Lite-On 52x24x52x drive, naturally, I was excited. I ripped open each box, and found the drive packed securely in a retail box. I also found two blank CD's, on was a CD-R, and the other a CD-RW. There was also a copy of Nero 5 in the box, which is software for burning CD's. I was impressed that Lite-On included Nero, which is a more advanced CD burning program. Most companies ship with Roxio's Easy CD Creator, which is not considered to be as good of a program as Nero.
You'll also find an audio cable for the drive to hook up to your sound card. There was just one nag. Where was the IDE cable? Lite-On didn't ship the drive with one, so if you don't have any extras in your PC, you'll need to buy one.
DesignThe drive looks very much like any other CD-ROM drive. It is slightly longer in the back, but nothing that should be a problem for most people's cases. I experienced no problems when installing the drive.
The front of the CD-RW unit has a Lite-On sticker (which says www.liteonit.com), which looks sort of stupid, but it's no big deal. You'll also find a sticker that says Lite-On (it's a logo), as well as text on the front of the drive saying 52x24x52x. The drive tray has a Ultra Speed CD-RW logo molded in.
The drive has just one LED light. It's green when reading, red when writing, and orange/yellow when SmartBurn is turned on. Next to the LED light you'll find the volume knob, and next to that is the headphone jack. Finally, right above the volume knob, you'll find the emergency eject button, which can be extremely important in some situations.
On the back of the drive, you'll find nothing new or exciting. There's a standard IDE port, power port, and the audio output connector. There's also the jumper switch to set the drive to master, slave, and cable select. There's also a digital audio connector, which is all the way to the left.
The process for installing the drive was exactly like how you would install any other drive. For my case, I had to clip on the Component Clips that came with my computer to put the drive in securely. Many cases do not need this, but if you do need it, your computer manufacturer (or you) should have these.
Once I secured the IDE cable and the Molex power connector, I was good to go. I put the side panel back on my computer and turned it on.
Windows detected the drive with no problem. On to installing software!
Once I inserted the Nero CD, included in the package, an autoplay menu popped up. There were various choices of things to view or install. First off was the Internal CD-RW Drive Utility. Here, you can copy drivers to a floppy for DOS use, or view the user's manual. Next up was the External CD-RW Drive Utility. Here I found drivers for external CD burners. Next on the list was to install Nero and InCD. You'll then find the Nero Quick Start Manual, Install Acrobat Reader, and finally, exit.
You can pretty much ignore all of these options, except for the "Install Nero and InCD." You'll want to click this to install the burning software. It's extremely easy to install, and after restarting your PC, you'll be ready to burn.
Documentation was extremely weak in this package. The internal drive's manual consisted of a one page sheet of paper that didn't explain enough for the average consumer. However, you can find much more documentation via .pdf (Adobe Acrobat) files on your PC. They provide the information you need, but it's not as user-friendly.
Here's where it really counts. What's the big deal about a CD-RW drive if it doesn't perform well? My system specs are below. They don't make a big impact on the CD-RW drives, but they do make some impact, so I may as well list them.
Alienware Aurora DDR
Athlon XP 2200+
512MB DDR 2100 RAM
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro
40GB Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM ATA 100
Windows XP Professional
CD Winbench 99 Test
Although the CD Winbench 99 test is old, it provides the most accurate measurement for real-life CD performance. Performance was excellent with the Lite-On drive. The overall score was 2400 for the internal 52x24x52x drive, which is extremely high, and towers over, or equals drives with the same specifications. CPU utilization was higher then most drives, but this shouldn't be an issue for people with powerful computers. You can easily notice the big drop of performance with the external 24x12x24x8x. The drive is just a 24x read, while the other drives are 40x, and 52x. It's apparent that this drive is not a drive aiming for top performance, but rather convenience. Everything else was excellent, and I was extremely impressed with the results of the Winbench 99 test, for all of the drives. Remember, when looking at the scores, lower is better for Access Time and CPU Utilization, but higher is better for Overall, and both Transfer Rate tests.
Nero CD Speed
Nero CD Speed is a benchmarking tool which is incorporated into the Nero Burning software. For testing, I used a CD that is 79:00 in length (not a music CD), so the results are fairly accurate. To view the testing results, just click on the images below for a full version.
Lite-On External 40x24x40x
Lite-On External 24x12x24x8x
Lite-On Internal 52x24x52x
I was unable to perform the CD-DAE test. The two external drives were not recognized by the program.
For testing Nero in real-life performance, I compiled for the CD-R tests, exactly 700MB of data into a folder, and then burned the CD. For the CD-RW tests, since I was limited to 650MB (maximum capacity for the CD-RW I was using), I deleted certain files from the folder, and I made the total 651MB.
For the CD-R tests, I used Memorex 52x media, and for the CD-RW test, I used one Lite-On 10x-24x CD-RW media. For the CD-RW tests, I formatted the disk after completing each test.
Performance was more then excellent. The 52x internal drive burned 700MB in just 2:33. The external 40x using USB 2.0 burned the same data in just 3:09. The 24x SlimCombo drive had good results, but I was expected better. It burned the same data in 6:46, more then 4 minutes more then the internal 52x. Keep in mind, however, that the SlimCombo's drive's main objective is not performance, but convenience, and the SlimCombo delivers there.
Performance was very good. The internal and 40x24x40x drives burned 651MB of data at almost the exact same time, which is good because they are both 24x drives. The USB 2.0 drive completed the burning process in 4:57, while the internal drive completed it in 4:59. The SlimType Combo drive burned the same data in . Keep in mind that the SlimType combo has half of the CD-RW burning speed as the other drives, so performance will naturally be lower. If you are looking for pure performance, of course, you wouldn't want to pick the SlimType Combo drive.
Lite-On Internal 52x24x52x:
Lite-On External 40x24x40x
Lite-On External 24x12x24x8x
When buying a new CD-RW drive, it's hard to make a decision. There are just so many choices out there, it takes some thinking. I've had the opportunity to test three Lite-On CD burners, which are three of the many choices of CD burners out there. I must say, I was extremely impressed with all three of them.
The internal Lite-On 52x24x52x drive can be found for under $50, but it provides the fastest speeds possible for burning CD's today (at time of writing). It may not be the most user-friendly drive, but even if you have some experience in computers today, you should be able to figure out how to install the drive. It's no different then any other CD drive, but there's just not enough information in the manual. Plus, it doesn't come with IDE cables. With these problems aside, you're left with an excellent drive that's fast, and inexpensive.
The external Lite-On 40x24x40x drive was also very good. It was fast, small, and looks cool. I achieved excellent performance with this drive, but I had two gripes about it, one minor, and the other major. For one thing, you need to plug in the drive to a AC power port. This may not be a problem for many, but it can't be very portable if you need to plug it in? My major gripe is this; the drive is not the easiest to get. You can buy it from Lite-On directly (www.liteonit.com), because I couldn't find it anywhere else, except for an Australian store.
The external Lite-On 24x12x24x8x drive was great. Although the speeds of the drive are not record-breaking, they are fast enough for pretty much anyone, and the drive looks excellent, and it's very small. Plus, it includes DVD playback, which, I must say, looked excellent. Once again, I had two gripes, one minor, and the other major. And surprise surprise, I had the same gripes as the Lite-On External 40x24x40x drive. First, it requires a AC power port to be used. The drive is obviously for traveling use. What if you want to use the drive in a airplane, to say, watch a movie. That's not possible since it needs the extra power. My major gripe was that the drive is not easy to get. You'll need to through Lite-On to get the drive (www.liteonit.com), because I couldn't find it anywhere else, which is not very good.
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