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Appeared on: Monday, December 02, 2002
INcoder TS24C-C1


1. Introduction-Installation

INcoder TS24C-C1 portable CD-RW/DVD drive - Page 1

- Introduction

INcoder is a Taiwanese company established in 1996. The company mainly focuses on external optical storage and external cases to extend existing Desktop PCs, Notebooks, workstations and servers, for professionals and business use mainly.

INcoder's goal is to provide stylish and objectively high quality tools in order to fully approach the user's need for reliable and user friendly products. As the company characteristically says "the "IN" (of "INcoder") means the concept of an interface bridging between human beings and machines (digital codes), which applies humanity-based thinking logic on technical products.

We have the chance to review a new INcoder product, the INC-TS24C-C1. This is a portable slim combo drive, which supports CD-R/RW writing among with DVD reading capabilities. The drive is an alternative solution for Notebook and desktop PC use.


- Drive features

The supported writing speeds are the 2X and 10X (CLV), and 16X and the maximum 24X (Z-CLV). The 24X speed the supported reading speed for the CD-R and the HS-RW media can be written at 10X. The maximum reading speed for DVD-ROM is 8X.

The INcoder TS24C-C1 offers a dual connection interface allowing user to select between the USB1.0/2.0 or IEEE1394 connections. The features mentioned above are valid for the USB 2.0 and IEEE1394 connections. By selecting the USB1.0 interface (12Mbits/sec), the reading /writing supported speeds are 4X for CD-R and CD-RW writing, 6X for reading and 0.7X for the DVD-ROM format.

The buffer underrun protection and the 2MB cache buffer will prevent any buffer underrun problems in CD-R/RW formats. The drive is compliant to the RPCII regulations, allowing user to change the region code of the drive 5 times.

The supported disc formats are: DVD-ROM (single layer/dual layer), DVD-R (General in case of writing), DVD-RW (Ver 1.o & 1.1), DVD-RAM, CD-ROM Mode 1, CD-ROM XA Mode 2, Photo CD, CD-DA, CD-Extra, CD-R/RW . The supported writing formats are the DAO, SAO, TAO and fixed/variable packet writing.

The dimensions of the drive are 144 X 153 X 23 mm (WxLxH) and its weight is 526gr.

- The package

The retail package included the 24X combo drive, a USB2.0 cable, a Firewire cable, 1 HS-RW disc and 1 CD-R blank disc. The software bundled is Nero Burning Rom for your writing tasks and the WinDVD software DVD player.

In addition, the package a quick installation guide, a multi-lingual operating instructions manual and a device driver floppy. The drive is powered through the provided AC/DC adapter (DC 5V, 2A).

A very stylish carrying pouch is also available in order to store the drive and carry it easily.

The INcoder TS24C-C1 operated in both horizontal and vertical positions. For vertical operation you will need the two metal foot-stands provided in the retail package. The foot-stands can be easily adjusted on the side panel of the drive, as you can see in the picture below. It is recommended to use the special rubber pad for horizontal usage, also bundled in the retail package. Just place the drive on the pad in order to avoid vibrations and to ensure stability during operation.

The silver drive looks very stylish and robust due to its complete metal case and structure. On the disc loading tray you can find the eject button, the emergency eject hole and the busy LED indicator. The "INcoder" logo is stamped on the top of the drive.

On the rear panel there are the power input and the USB and Firewire connectors. As we have mentioned the drive supports a dual build-in connection interface.

- Installation

The INcoder TS24C-C1 was connected to our test PC through the USB2.0 interface, and was identified as "TEAC DW-224E" under WinXP. The October 2002 model came with firmware version v1.0A installed, that was used to make all the reading/writing tests.

We compare the new drive with an already tested slim combo drive, the Plextor PX-208T.


2. Data CD Reading Tests

INcoder TS24C-C1 portable CD-RW/DVD drive - Page 2

Data CD Tests

- Pressed CD results (Click to see the CD Speed Graphs)

Both Plextor PX-208T and INcoder TS24C-C1 drives support 24X CD-R reading speed. The TS24C-C1 gave an average reading speed of 18.21X. The drive performed according to its specifications, but is slightly slower than the Plextor drive, due to the lower speeds given in the beginning and the ending of the task.

The Incoder drive was faster in the random seek with 102msec and also faster in the full see mode with 231msec.

- CDR Media results (Click to see the CD Speed Graphs)

The TS24C-C1 behaved the same as in the previous test. The 18.13X performance is slower than the Plextor's drive, which was faster.

In the seek test, the results for the Incoder drive were even better than in the pressed CD test. The drive needed only 188msec for the full stroke.

- HS-RW media (Click to see the CD Speed Graphs)

For the RW tests we used the Ricoh HS-RW media. The TS24C-C1 supports 24X HS-RW reading speed. The drive was fast and finished with 18.79X average speed. The Plextor drive is slower due to its lower supported speed.


3. DAE Error Correction Tests
INcoder TS24C-C1 portable CD-RW/DVD drive - Page 3

Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we examined the error correction capabilities of the INcoder TS24C-C1, while reading a recorded CD-R.

- EAC CD-R Test Disc

- Test Results (Max Reading)

The Pioneer DVR-A05 starts reporting errors at 17mins. The errors within the black triangle defect, reached -48dB in specific areas. The five scratches also produced errors but the signal/noise level was less than -48dB(A). The score is of 84.1 out of 100 (max), which is a good performance.

Errors total
Num: 15469
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 4324
Avg:-83.1 dB(A)
Max: -49.0 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 22
Avg: 1.0 Samples
Max: 1 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0.0 Samples
Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result
84.1 points (of 100.0 maximum)

- ABEX TCD-721R

- Introduction

This test disc includes artificial scratches with lengths from 1.8 mm to 3.0 mm.

Using the ABEX TCD-714 as the reference disc, we created the reference.wav file that is needed for the comparison. Using the c2extract.exe software and by setting the maximum reading speed with Nero Drive speed we ripped the disc. The attached analyse.exe software gave the comparison results.

- Test Results (Max speed)

Errors total
Num: 1287169
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 105525
Avg:-77.8 dB(A)
Max:-18.9 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 4309
Avg: 1.1 Samples
Max: 89 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 0
Avg: .0 Samples
Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result
75.6 points (of 100.0 maximum)

The score for Pioneer DVR-A05 is 75.6 which is an average performance. The total errors are more than in the previous test, as it was expected, since the disc is heavily scratched. The average level of the Loudness errors is -77.8dB(A).

- ABEX TCD-726

- Introduction

The ABEX TCD-726 includes three kinds of defects, interruption, black dots and fingerprints. The interruption defects are sized from 0.5 mm to 1.0 mm. The black dots are from 0.4 mm to 1.0 mm and the fingerprints range from 65 to 75 micrometers.

- Test Results (Max Speed)

The drive gave a very high score of 84.1 points out of 100. Only two errors loudness occurred and their level is low, -23.9dB(A) average. The only skip sample has a length of 404 samples.

Errors total
Num: 0
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 2
Avg: -23.9 dB(A)
Max: -21.9 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0.0 Samples
Max: 0 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 1
Avg: 404.0 Samples
Max: 404 Samples
Total Test Result
84.1 points (of 100.0 maximum)

- Conclusion

Test Disc
Reading Speed
Score
EAC CD-R
Max
84.1
ABEX TCD-721R
75.6
ABEX TCD-726
84.1
Average Score
81.26

The INcoder TS24C-C1 gets a good score of 84.1 out of 100 at our reading error correction tests.

- C2 Information accuracy

- Test Results (MAX Speed)

The drive missed only 29978 C2 marks and gave 69 sync errors. The quality score is 84.1 which is very good, and the C2 accuracy is 97.71%.

The EAC software gave the drive a 99.7% C2 accuracy. In the following table there are the C2 accuracy score for each test with the EAC and ABEX discs. In the test with the ABEX TCD-726 disc, the drive reported very few errors so the C2 accuracy result could not be estimated.

 
Test Disc
Reading Speed
INcoder TC24C-C1
Score
EAC CD-R
Max
100
ABEX TCD-721R
Max
99.4
ABEX TCD-726
Max
-
Average Score
99.7


4. DVD reading tests

INcoder TS24C-C1 portable CD-RW/DVD drive - Page 4

DVD reading tests

- Test Method

We used Nero DVD Speed to run DVD tests. All tests were performed at least 3 times with the same DVD title (we show the average results). The tests discs were one single sided, single layer DVD-ROM, one single sided, dual layer DVD-ROM, and DVD-R,-RW, +R and DVD+RW media.

- Single Layer DVD-ROM reading: (Click for DVDSpeed results)

INcoder TS24C-C1 supports 8X CAV maximum reading speed for the DVD format. The drive reached the 8.19X reading speed by the end of the task, and gave an average speed of 6.10X. The Plextor drive is slightly slower with 5.96X.

The seek times of TS24C-C1 are very good. The random seek test gave an 93 msec result, and the Full seek around 207 msec. The Plextor drive seems to be slower..

- Dual Layer DVD-ROM reading: (Click for DVDSpeed results)

The drive supports 8X CAV reading speed for the dual layer DVD-ROM discs. The average reading speed for each layer is 6.09X, and is almost twice as fast as the Plextor drive..

The seek times for the dual layer DVD-ROMs are the same as in the previous test.

- DVD Ripping Tests

We measured the DVD Ripping speed using the "Matrix" DVD Video title and DVD Decrypter v3.0 software.

The ripping speed of INcoder TS24C-C1 is high, resulting to an average speed of 4628 kb/s. The Plextor drive is slower with 3986 kb/s.

- DVD reading Tests

The charts below shows the Nero DVD Speed results with the following media.

The INcoder TS24C-C1 read all the inserted discs at 3X average, except from the DVD+R, where it was faster (6.11X). The Plextor drive follows with a very close performance.


5. DVD Error Correction Tests
INcoder TS24C-C1 portable CD-RW/DVD drive - Page 5

DVD Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we examined the DVD error correction capabilities of the TS24C-C1. For the tests we used CDVD Benchmark v1.21 and Nero DVD Speed . The reference test media comes from ALMEDIO.

- Single Layer media

ABEX TDR-821

This is a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM with a 4.7GB capacity, in which there are scratches with dimensions from 0.4 to 3.0 mm. The following transfer rate picture comes from CDVD Benchmark v1.21.

INcoder TS24C-C1 seems to have no problem finishing the reading task with no errors. The drive lowered the reading speed to 4X (average) when it reached the 500.000 sector, according to the software. The reading speed is kept at 4X for until the end of the reading process. No read error were occurred.

ABEX TDR-825

This is also a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM with a 4.7GB capacity. The data structure of the disc is exactly the same as the TDR-821, with the difference that there not scratches on it but defected areas with dimensions from 0.5 to 1.1 mm. There also fingerprints sized from 65 to 75 micro meters.

The drive did not have any problems to read the disc contents. The yellow dots correspond to the current speed in each area of the disc. No read errors were reported.

- Dual Layer media

ABEX TDR-841

This is a 8.5GB dual layer, single sided DVD-ROM disc with artificial scratches with dimensions from 0.4 to 3.0mm, in both layers.

The result is very good, as it was expected, judging from the reading test with the single layer disc. If you compare the two yellow transfer lines with the one we had in the TDR-821 test, you will see that the drive showed a similar good reading behavior, in both layers.

ABEX TDR-845

The disc is a single sided, dual layer DVD-ROM disc with a capacity of 8.5GB. The only difference between the TDR-845 and the TDR-841 is that the first includes defected areas and fingerprints. The dimensions of the defected areas are ranged from 0.5 to 1.1 mm and the fingerprints are sized from 65 to 75 micro meters.

This time, the drive lowered the reading speed by the time the defect became large enough, in the first layer. In that point some read errors occurred. The problem was not replayed in the second layer.

ABEX TDV-541

The TDV-541 is a single sided, dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc, with capacity of 8.5GB. The disc is based upon the TDV-540 series which is designed for inspection and adjustment of DVD-VIDEO players. The discs check the layer switch operation from layer 0 to layer 1 and also include test pictures and test signals for DVD sound files. The current TDV-541 checks also the error correction capabilities of the drive and includes scratches from 0.4 to 3.0 mm.

The drive gave a 3.17X average reading speed for the DVD-Video format. The scratched areas made the drive slow down momentarily but it seems that there were no reading problems. The layer change time 44 msec, and the seek times were not different from those the drive gave with a data DVD-ROM.

ABEX TDV-545

The TDV-545 disc is based on the TDV-540 series. It is a single sided, dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc with a capacity of 8.5GB. The TDV-545 includes artificial black dots on the data surface, sized from 0.4 to 1.0 mm. It has also 65 - 75 micro meters fingerprints.

Black dots and fingerprints were not a problem for the drive. The test was successful, with an 3.17X average speed and 56 msec for the layer change time.


6. CloneCD Reading Tests

INcoder TS24C-C1 portable CD-RW/DVD drive - Page 6

CloneCD Reading Tests

- Procedure

We used CloneCD and 4 original CDs - Serious Sam 2 (SafeDisc 2), Desperados (LaserLock 2), V-Rally 2 Expert (SecuROM 2) and NBA Jam Extreme (PSX) - in order to test the reading time of the drives. We also tested the reading performance with backups of the original CDs, since the reading speed varies between original and backup media. The following pictures show the drive reading/writing capabilities as CloneCD reports:

- PSX Pressed Media

For this test we used the PSX game 'NBA Jam Extreme' and we ripped the image to the HD with CloneCD. INcoder TS24C-C1 needed 122 seconds to finish the task, while the Plextor drive was 17 seconds faster.

- SafeDisc v.2 Results

The TS24C-C1 needed approximately an hour to finish the task. The performance is low and the Plextor drive is faster.

- LaserLock v.2 Results

With the LaserLock v.2 protected disc, the drive finished after 20 minutes. This time the Plextor drive is slower.

- SecuROM Results

Both drives can read SubChannel data from Data/Audio tracks, but the TS24C-C1 does not support 96 bytes of Subchannel data (CD+G). 4:50 minutes were enough for the drive to make the image file to the hard disk. The Plextor PX-208T is slightly faster.


7. DAE Tests

INcoder TS24C-C1 portable CD-RW/DVD drive - Page 7

DAE Tests

- DAE features

EAC v0.9 reports that Pioneer DVR-A05 supports caching of data, "Accurate Stream" but retrieves no "C2" error info.

- Pressed AudioCD results

In this test we examine the DAE speed of drive. The TS24C-C1 ripped the audio files at 10X average. The ripping speed is low but the Plextor drive is even slower (7.6X).

- CDR AudioCD results

With CD-R media, the ripping speed is 9.5X, a little slower than in the test with the pressed CD.

- EAC Secure Extract Ripping mode

EAC's secure extract ripping mode results, which ensures maximum produced WAV quality. Note that for each drive we used the build-in detection function:

Tested Drives
Average DAE Speed (X)
Pressed
CDR
INcoder TS24C-C1
9.6
9.7

- Advanced DAE Quality

INcoder TS24C-C1 got a 99.8 score (best) in the Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE test. Unfortunately, the drive produced 7050 data errors. The average speed for the drive is 9.96X. The drive can also read data from SubChannel and CD Text.

- CD-Check Audio Test Disc

Error Level
1
2
3
4
5
INcoder TS24C-C1
5/5
5/5
5/5
4/5
4/5

The TS24C-C1 drive showed good error correction / concealment abilities with the CD-Check audio test disc. The three first audio tracks were playbacked correctly without any error noises. The fourth and the fifth tracks gave a successful playback in the four out of the five times we reran the tests.

- Bad CDR Media results

We used CD DAE software to rip the whole disc (756539616 sectors) to the hard disk.

Average Speed (X)
Errors
Errors Of Total Disc (%)
INcoder TS24C-C1
Read error at 90% of ripping

Pioneer DVR-A05 did not manage to finish the test and gave a read error in the last tracks of the disc.

- Ripping 90 and 99mins AudioCDs

Tested drives
Ripping up to
INcoder TS24C-C1
Up to 88min

- Reading/Ripping Protected AudioCDs

For the test procedure we used 2 protected AudioCDs, which we tested in both recognition and ripping (with EAC) processes:

* Pressed AudioCD with Sony Key2Audio (Celine Dion - New Day Has Come)
* Pressed AudioCD with Cactus Data Shield 200 (Natalie Imbruglia - White Lilies Island)

Key2Audio
CDS200
EAC
INcoder TS24C-C1
Recognize disc contents, but rips the first 5 tracks only
Recognizes disc contents but not all files have high quality

The drive ripped the five first tracks of the Key2Audio protected title but cold not continue and halted. With the Cactus Data Shield disc, it ripped the disc contents but the first, the sixth, the seventh and the eighth tracks had many errors.


8. CDR Tests
INcoder TS24C-C1 portable CD-RW/DVD drive - Page 8

CDR Tests

We tested the drive with latest version of Nero/CloneCD. INcoder TS24C-C1 supports the 24X (Z-CLV) maximum writing speed.

The drive starts writing at 10X till 4mins, shifts up to 12X at 6mins, accelerates to 16X at 21mins, shifts up again to 20X at 23mins and lastly reaches the 24X at 70mins. Due to the increased number of steps in order the drive to reach the 24X, the average writing speed is kept below 17X (16.92X).

- Recording Tests

We burned 79 minutes of data since the INcoder TS24C-C1 does not support overburning. As you can see, the drive needed 340 seconds to finish the task, and the duration seems to be increased for a 24X recorder. The explanation for this is can be found in the CDSpeed graph above, where you can see the Z-CLV implementation of the drive. The following picture comes from Nero after a successful burning at 24X.

The INcoder TS24C-C1 automatically reduces the writing speed when the inserted media are not valid for recording in the selected (usually maximum) speed. However, we tried to burn at 24X on Prodisc 40X certified media, and we experienced a coaster:

 

- Writing quality

We used several media and burned them at the maximum writing speed. The measurement results are illustrated in the following tables.

Brand
C1
Average Burning Time (mins)
Comments
Max
Average
Ciba Plasmon 80min 48X
22
2.1
5:40
Burned at 24X
Taiyo Yuden 80min 32X
19
0.8
5:56
SKC 80min 16X
23
3.7
8:49
Burned at 10X
Prodisc 80min 40X
19
1.0
6:16
Burned at 16X
Sanyo Digital 80min 32X
31
2.5
6:12

The produced writing quality is high. The average C1 error rate is only 1. By the end of the disc the drive gave a slightly higher rate, but this does not affect the overall quality.

 

- Other features

Overburning
Not supported
CD text reading/writing
Yes

- CloneCD Writing Tests

The CloneCD software reports that the drive supports the DAO-RAW feature. In some cases the drive didn't worked properly with specific media.

For checking the drive's EFM correction status, we used 3 different game titles with different SafeDisc 2 versions with the latest software patches installed. We used the drive as reader/writer at maximum reading/recording speed. Two discs were burned for each game (Amplify Weak Sectors On/Off). Two discs were burned for each game. One disc burned with PadusDJ and the other with CloneCD (Amplify Weak Sectors On). The results are posted in the table below:

Game Title
Tested Drive
SD2 Build
Settings
Amplify Weak Sectors On
Amplify Weak Sectors Off
Max Payne v1.05
Creative 52X
CD-ROM
v.2.50.020
OK
TEAC 40X
CD-ROM
BTC DV316
DVD-ROM
Serious Sam - The Second Encounter v1.07
Creative 52X
CD-ROM
v.2.60.052
Ok
TEAC 40X
CD-ROM
No
BTC DV316
DVD-ROM
OK
The Sims - Unleashed
Creative 52X
CD-ROM
v2.80.010
OK
TEAC 40X
CD-ROM
No
BTC DV316
DVD-ROM
OK

The INcoder TS24C-C1 can handle protected SafeDisc 2 discs very good. It created backups of SD v2.50.010 that played in all drives and with newer drives the only drive where failed was the TEAC CD-540E drive.


9. HS-RW Writing Tests

INcoder TS24C-C1 portable CD-RW/DVD drive - Page 9

HS-RW Writing Tests

We used Nero Burning Rom for writing CDs in the maximum RW speed INcoder TS24C-C1. The drive supports 10X maximum rewriting speed.

The TS24C-C1 finished in 8:21 minutes, and needed 51 seconds to perform the "quick erase" task with Nero. The Plextor drive is slower since it supports 8X maximum CD-RW speed.

- Packet Writing Tests

We used InCD and Ricoh HS-RW media for all Packet Writing tests. The formatting of the media takes around 10min. The formatted disc had 530mbs of free space. We copied a 403 MB file (403.147 kbs) from a Hard Disk (on the same PC as the writers) to the formatted RW media-using explorer (we dragged and dropped) we completed the test twice to eliminate possible time measurement faults and user errors:

In the writing part, the INcoder TS24C-C1 gave a 6.73X average speed, but was slower in the reading part with only 2.78X.


10. Conclusion

INcoder TS24C-C1 portable CD-RW/DVD drive- Page 10

Conclusion

Positive (+)

Negative (-)

- 24/10/24/8X portable combo drive
- Attractive and stylish design
- Dual USB/IEEE1394 supported interface
- Complete retail package
- Good DVD ripping speed
- High performance in DAE error correction test
- Supports DVD-R/RW, +R/RW, DVD-ROM formats
- Low seek times for CD/DVD format
- Creates working SafeDisc v2 backups
- Supports reading of SubChannel data
- Supports CD-Text (reading/writing)

- Limited media list for writing at maximum speed
- Writing problems with Plasmon based media
- Low DAE speed (10X)
- DVD error correction needs improvement
- Slow CloneCD reader
- Does not fully support audio protected discs
- Bad DAE quality with dusted/scratched CDR media

The INcoder TS24C-C1 offers nothing less than its specifications state. Besides the very stylish and robust metal design, the drive comes in a complete retail package with all the essentials for easy usage, among with some extra goodies such as the foot-stands and a pad for horizontal operation. The metal material of the drive is there to reduce the noise & vibration during operation..
The drive also can operate in a vertical position, for saving space in the working environment of users.

The built-in dual interface allows user to select the connection type between the USB1.0/2.0 and Firewire, according to the available hardware support of his notebook or PC.

The INcoder TS24C-C1 supports the 24X Z-CLV maximum recording speed for the CD-R format. Our tests showed that the current implementation of the Z-CLV technology does not offer the drive the lowest writing times for the 24X category, and also the drive refused to write at maximum speed with some media. However, the writing stability also needs some tweaking, since we experienced a coaster with Plasmon-based media. Despite this, the C1/ C2 measurements on the recorded media showed a high writing quality.

In the reading part, the drive is fast and the reading speed reached the supported 24X with pressed and CD-R media. The seek times for both CD/DVD formats are low, and the reading accuracy seems to be high, as well as the ability to correct possible faulty bits on defected and scratched media. (Almedio Abex). However, it seems that our aged physically defected audio disc was very hard for the drive to read, since it gave a read error by the end of the ripping process.

The supported DAE speed is 10X but it could be higher. The drive also can handle Cactus Data Shield 200 protected audio discs but have does not read accurately the tracks of a Key2Audio disc. The reading /writing of CD-Text on audio discs is also supported.

The CloneCD users will be satisfied from the drive's abilities to create working backups of SafeDisc v.2 protected titles, but the reading speed is generally low.

As for DVD format, the drive supports reading of DVD-ROM (single layer) at 8X CAV, and also supports reading of DVD-R/RW and DVD+R/RW discs. However, the DVD error correction tests with ABEX test media showed that the drive had some problems with heavily scratched DVD-ROM discs, producing some read errors.

The INcoder TS24C-C1 left us a with positive overall impression. It could be safely considered as an alternative solution for your daily burning and reading needs, connected to your notebook or desktop PC. The drive is priced at Euro 360 (excluding V.A.T) and INcoder offers users 1 year warranty for the drive.



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