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Appeared on: Sunday, January 20, 2002
Freecom Traveller II


1. Introduction

Freecom Traveller II combo CDRW/DVD- Page 1

- Introduction

Freecom Traveller II combo drive is a CD-RW and DVD combo player, designed for all those that ask for a portable drive able to write their dailly CD-R/RW and read almost all kind of DVD media in the same drive.

Freecom Traveller II is an 8X4X24 CD-RW drive plus an 8X DVD-ROM. The drive can also play MP3 files and can be externally/battery powered. The drive offers a connection interface flexibility due to Freecom Multi connect interface. Parallel, PCMCIA, USB, USB-2, CardBus or IEEE-1394 (FireWire/ i.LINK) can be used by simply attaching to the drive a different FREECOM Cable.

- Features

- 8x writing, 2/4x re-writing, 24x reading (CD), 8x DVD
- MP3 and audio playback
-
Supported Interfaces: Freecom Multi Connect USB 1.1, 2/" Firewire (IEEE 1394)/PCMCIA/Parallel/CardBus
-
Dimensions: 14.5 x 14.5 x 1.7 cm (L x W x H)Weight: 450 gr without power module, 600 gr with power module
-
Buffer: 2MB
- JustLink anti-buffer underrun
-
Write methods: TAO, SAO, Packet writing

- Unpacking

The supplied package was the retail European contained except from the drive, a manual CD-ROM, Roxio Easy CD Creator and DirectCD v5.1 as writing/packet writing software, Cyberlink Power DVD v3.0 as DVD movie software. The package also included a 24X 700MB blanc CD-R, a quick install manual, a CD-R pen, a warranty registration form, a pluggable power module and the AC power adapter. The connection cables are excluded and can by provided by Freecom stores. The drive comes with a 2-year warranty (for Europe only) .

The design of the drive is smart and stylish. The drive has a front-open tray and on the top there is the "Freecom" logo.

 

On the face of the drive there are the eject button, the emergency eject hole and the access indicator led.

On the rear panel there are the power and the interface connectors. Freecom provides various cables for connecing via Parallel, IEEE 1934, USB II, PCMCIA / Cardbus.

Also, there are two operation status leds, that light to orange according to the external / battery power supply condition.

Battery Powered

Frecom Traveller II can be also powered by Ni MH rechargables batteries provided by Freecom. The batteries should be placed in the Freecom power module which comes with the drive and is showed on the right.

To install the batteries you should firstly disconnect the drive from power and from the PC/notebok Put the drive upside down and release the safe on the left to open the cover, in the place where the power module should be plugged.

Plug the power module on the back of the drive and then the battery, as shown below

Place the battery cover that comes in the retail package and connect the drive to the PC/notebook

The battery should be charged before use. For charging the battery it is necessary that the external power supply is connected to the device and the Freecom cable is connected to the device but not to the PC/notebook The battery should be charged for at least five to six hours.

On the power module there is an "Ext Power" / "Batt. only" switch. If the drive is connected through USB/Parallel/IEEE 1394 interfaces, and the power pack is not connected to the device, the battery is in use and does not recharge during operation in both "Ext. Power" / "Batt. only" switch settings. Especially for the case of PCMCIA/CardBus connection interfaces, in the "Ext. Power" switch setting, the drive is powered from the notebook and the battery, meaning that the battery buffers the power fluctuations from the notebook. In the same situation, the battery recharges when the drive is in standby mode.

When the power pack is connected to the drive, the drive is powered by the power pack and the battery recharges when the drive is in the standby mode, regardless the swicth setting.

- Installation

We installed the drive and after reboot we saw that Nero identified the drive as "TEAC DW-28E"! Should we expect another Teac drive performance? Probably yes, see more in the result pages.

We unchecked the "Auto Insert Notification" and were ready for testing. Freecom Traveller II was connected through IEEE 1934 (FireWire) interface.The Freecom Traveller II drive had the firmware revision v1.0A installed. We used Nero (5.5.6.4), InCD (3.14), CloneCD (3.2.3.1) and Padus DJ (3.50.818) for the recording tests.

- Test Machine

WinMe/XP OS
Soyo 7VCA
Celeron II 566 over clocked to 850 MHz
128MB SDRAM PC 133
WD 18GB UDMA 66
Quantum Fireball EX 6.4 GB UDMA 33
DAWI 2975 - PCI (ULTRA) SCSI Host Adapter
ATI AIW 128
Adaptec's USB2connect 3100LP PCI card


2. Data Tests

Freecom Traveller II Combo DVD/CD-RW - Page 2

Data Tests

- SCSI Mechanic v3.0x results

Freecom Traveller II gave the best Average Random I/O result with (776 kb/sec). In the sequential reading test, the Freecom drive is also fast and comes second behind Plextor with 2670 kb/sec. The same sector read test seems to be friendlier to the Teac CD-W280PU mechanism. The performance here is very high and reaches the 10530 kb/sec, while Freecom Traveller II gave just an 1328 kb/sec average result.

- Nero CD Speed v0.85 results: (Click to see the CD Speed Graphs)

Freecom Traveller II keeps up with the good performance at the Nero CD Speed test. The average reading performance forFreecom Traveller II is 18.25X, very close to Plextor's PX-S88TU performance.

In the same test, we measured the seek time of the drive. As you can see in the graph above, Freecom Traveller II is very fast and leads the race with 86 sec in the random access test! Teac CD-W280PU follows with 109 sec. Freecom seems to have done a very good work with the drive's mechanism.

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

Freecom Traveller II improved its reading performance with the CDR media. The drive leads with 18.63X average reading speed while the Plextor stays close with 18.53X.

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

For the RW tests we used the Ricoh HS-RW media. Freecom Traveller II is the fastest reader in this test with 18.61X average reading speed:


3. CloneCD reading Tests
Freecom Traveller II combo DVD/CD-RW - Page 3

CloneCD Tests

- Procedure

We used CloneCD (v3.2.3.1) and 5 original CDs - Euro 2000 (SafeDisc 1), No One Lives For Ever (SafeDisc 2), Rally Masters (LaserLock 1), Desperados (LaserLock 2) and V-Rally 2 Expert (SecuROM 2) - in order to test the reading time of Freecom Traveller II . We also tested the reading performance with backups of the original CDs, since the reading speed varies between original and backup media. The following picture shows the reading/writing capabilities of the Freecom drive, as CloneCD reports:

As you can see, Freecom Traveller II is not compatible with CloneCD RAW-DAO mode!

- PSX Pressed Media

For this test we used the PSX game 'NBA Jam Extreme' and we ripped the image to HD with CloneCD. We attempted to read a PSX cd title with Freecom Traveller II . The drive was fast and finished the task in 151 seconds, very close to the Teac's performance.

- SafeDisc 1/2 Results

The winner here is clearly identified. Freecom Traveller II was very slow while reading both pressed / backup titles.

- LaserLock 1/2 Results

Freecom Traveller II was faster in this test but still cannot beat the competitor drives.

The scenario remains the same for the LaserLock v.2 protected CDs. Freecom Traveller II is slower than the other drives.

- SecuROM Results

The Freecom Traveller II does not support 96bytes reading of subchannel data from data/audio tracks, as CloneCD reports. The drive's performance was very good and gets the first position with the backup and the second best with the original test disc.


4. DAE Tests

Freecom Traveller II combo CDRW/DVD - Page 4

DAE/MP3 Tests

- Test Method

We used CD DAE 99 v0.21 beta and EAC v0.9 prebeta 11 software in order to check the DAE performance of the Freecom drive with various AudioCDs (both pressed and CDR). As a note, we used the "BURST" reading mode of EAC. We made a full CD Rip starting from the first to the last track of the CD. The Average DAE reported speed along with the CPU Usage is displayed in the test graphs.

- DAE features

We used EAC v0.9 prebeta 11 to examine the drive's features. As the program reported, Freecom Traveller II does not support "Caching" and supports "Accurate stream" and "C2 error info"

 

- Pressed AudioCD results

Freecom Traveller II extracted the pressed audio CD at 8X and it gets the third place, far away from the top:

- CDR AudioCD results

Freecom Traveller II gave the same DAE speed in the CDR test as with pressed media, and also produced no errors.

- EAC Secure Extract Ripping mode

EAC 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
TEAC CD-W280PU
7.5
7.6
CyQve RW8080A
2.2
2.3
Freecom traveller II
2.1
2
PleXWriter PX-S88TU
2.3
2.6

- Advanced DAE Quality

Freecom Traveller II keeps the DAE speed at 8X as in the previous tests. The quality score is 100 for all the drives, and as you can see below, CDSpeed states that the drive cannot read CD Text, but we will check it out later.

- Bad CDR Media results

Despite the fact that Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE test stretches drive's mechanism to the max, we decided to do real life tests with a scratched disc. The disc was dirty, and with some light scratches, enough in order cause problems to most of the tested drives. We used CD DAE 99 software to rip the whole disc (756539616 sectors) and the results were very interesting:

Average Speed (X)
Errors
Errors Of Total Disc (%)
TEAC CD-W280PU
7.9
0
0
CyQve RW8080A
9.4
60254016
7.96
Freecom traveller II
8
62226
0
PleXWriter PX-S88TU
12.6
86458
0.01

Freecom Traveller II kept its ripping speed at 8X, but the produced error rate is very low and practically 0%. The TEAC CD-W280PU gets the first place with 0 errors.

- Ripping 90 and 99mins AudioCDs

Freecom Traveller II cannot recognize any 90/99 min media and the tests with CDSpeed gave a failure reading error in the beginning of the reading process.

- Mp3 Playback feature

Freecom Traveller II supports MP3 playback from CD-R/RW media. We created all possible combination of Mp3 files ,using Nero's build-in Mp3 encoder for both CBR/VBR encoding formats. The playback results are gathered in the following tables:

CBR MP3 encoding
Encoding BitRate
20
24
32
40
48
56
64
80
96
112
128
160
192
224
256
320
Freecom Traveller II
Yes

VBR MP3 encoding
Encoding Bitrate
Lowest
Low
Medium
High
Highest
Freecom Traveller II
Yes

As the test results showed, Freecom Traveller II managed to playback ALL CBR/VBR encoded mp3 files without any noticable problems.

- Reading Protected AudioCDs

For the test procedure we used 3 protected AudioCDs, which we tested in both recognition and ripping (with CD DAE) processes:

* Pressed AudioCD with Sony's KeyAudio
* Pressed AudioCD with Cactus Data Shield 200 (Natalie Imbruglia - White Lilies Island)
* CDR AudioCD protected with Cactus Data Shield (CDS100) - made with Clone Audio Protector v1.1 (adding 30 secs lead-out)

KeyAudio
CDS200
CDS100
Freecom Traveller II
Recognizes all the audio tracksexcept from the last, ripping/reading impossible
Cannot recognize the disc contents
Reads all tracks as Data tracks - ripping impossible
TEAC CD-W280PU
Recognizes all tracks and can rip conntents. It stops ripping at 94%
Can regongize contents of the disc but only the first 6tracks as Audio - cannot rip with normal DAE ripper.. With Feurio it can play the first 5 tracks, but not the rest
Plextor PX-S88TU
Recognizes all the audio tracks, ripping/reading impossible
Can recognize contents of the disc but only the first 6 tracks as audio - cannot rip with normal DAE ripper. With Feurio it can play the first 7 tracks.
Cannot recognize the disc contents

As the test results showed, Freecom Traveller II is not prepared to handle any AudioCD protected disc.


5. CDR Tests
Freecom Traveller II combo DVD/CD-RW - Page 5

CDR Tests

- Procedure

We tested both drives with Nero v5.5.6.4, Ahead InCD v3.14, CloneCD v3.2.3.1 and, Padus DJ v3.50.818 software. We used various of media for performing our tests: Creation 74/80mins 16x, Maxell 74min 12x, Mitsubishi Chemicals 74/80min 24x certified, Mitsui 74min 24x certified and Ricoh's 74min HS-RW.

- 74min CD-R Tests

We created a "DataCD" job with data slightly more than 74mins (74:03:65). We burned the same job with all 4 CDR-W drives:

The Freecom Traveller gets the second position in this test with 602secs. The drive is faster than both PleXWriter PX-S88TU/CyQve RW8080A by 9 and 5 seconds respectively. The TEAC CD-W280PU is the top performer with 598secs.

- 80min CD-R Tests

In our normal burning tests the 80min CD contains slightly less than 80min data (79:55:46):

Freecom Traveller II seems to be slightly faster than the other drives, although the differences are very small.

- Writing Quality Tests

We used Creation's (Plasmon based) 16x certified media for our writing quality tests. We used Nero 5.5.6.4 and all CDs were Audio CDs with 74:51:27 in size. The produced CDs, were measured from DigitalDrives and results are illustrated in the following tables:

Creation 74min 16x media
Model
C1
Average Burning Time (secs)
Max
Average
PlexWriter PX-S88TU
39
6.7
623
Teac CD-W280PU
47
7.5
591
CyQve RW8080A
19
2.1
607
Freecom Traveller II
41
3.3
602

Freecom Traveller II gave a low average C1 error rate meaning that the recording quality is high. Among the drives above, Cyqve RW8080A has produced the lower C1 error rate. The following graph comes from Creation 74min 16X media:

Click To Enlarge!

- Overburning Tests

The drive doesn't support overburning.

- Battery operation

We plugged the Freecom power module on the drive and started the battery charge operation. The betteries were left to charge for 6 hours, as the manual recommends. Then we connected the drive to the PC and started an audio CD playback. Unfortunatelly the playback did not last more than 30 minutes and the drive stopped any operation, until we plugged the external power back. Freecom claims that the battery will keep you company up to 4-5 hours but the real life test results showed the oposite.

- CD-Text Results

Freecom Traveller II can read CD-text but cannot write audio CDs with CD-text.

- CloneCD Writing Tests

The CloneCD v3.2.3.1 reports that the Freecom Traveller II drive doesn't support the DAO-RAW but only the SAO-RAW features. This mean it will not backup Securom 2/PSX Libcrypt protected CDs. Users will not have problems with Safedisc 1, LaserLock 1/2 protected CDs..

- SD2 Support
For the SD2 test we used the "No One Lives For Ever", "Max Payne" and "Emperor Battle of Dune" game titles. We used the Freecom drive as reader/writer. The produced backup did worked at some of the tested drivevs. Therefore it can produce partial working SD2 CDs. Note that drive SD2 ability might not work with newer SD2 protected titles, since they need a fully DAO-RAW 96 writer to backup them.

- 8cm mini CDs

Freecom Traveller II supportst writing/reading of 8 cm mini CDs.


6. RW-Packet Writing Tests

Freecom Traveller II combo DVD/CD-RW - Page 6

RW Writing Tests

We used Nero 5.5.6.4 for writing CDs at the maximum RW speed for all the tested drives.

Freecom Traveller II was fast and finished within 602 seconds. This performance is very close to that the Teac gave, which holds the first position. As for the "quick erase" time, Freecom Traveller II got the third position with 54 seconds.

- Packet Writing Tests

We used Ahead InCD v3.14 for all Packet Writing tests with a Ricoh HS-RW media. The formatted disc had 534mbs 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 Windows Explorer (we dragged and dropped) and we completed the test twice to eliminate any possible time measurement faults and user errors:

Freecom Traveller II gave aproximately the same performance as writer/reader. The drive was not fast and gets the third position with 2.8X average speed.


7. DVD Tests

Freecom Traveller II combo DVD/CD-RW - Page 7

DVD Tests

- Test Method

We used Nero DVD Speed v0.52 to run DVD tests (DMA enabled on all drives). All tests were performed at least 3 times with the same DVD title (we took the worst results). The DVD Speed author suggests avoiding the use of dual layer DVDs since performance might be lower than the actual one. For that purpose we used a single-layered DVD title, taken from PC Magazine.

- Nero DVD Speed results: (Click for DVDSpeed results)

Freecom Traveller II gave a 7035 kb/s DVD-ROM reading performance, which is enough for our daily needs.

In the Full access Freecom Traveller II gave a 217ms result.

- DVD Ripping Tests

We measured the DVD Ripping speed using Matrix DVD and DVD Decrypter v3.0.0.8. Freecom Traveller II ripped the movie to the HD in 12:44mins, meaning it gave an 7118 Kb/sec ripping speed. Good performance for Freecom.

- DVD reading Tests

The chart below shows the Nero DVD Speed results of both drives with DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW media.

The drive managed to read all the above DVD formats, althought the graph shows a 0 kb/sec for the DVD-R media. DVD Speed kept giving an error while reading but the drive did managed to read from the medium when we manually tried to read it.

- Movie Tests

We tested the drive with many DVD titles and our overall impression was very good. The drive didn't showed any problem.


8. Conclusion

Freecom Traveller II combo DVD/CD-RW - Page 8

Conclusion

Positive (+)

Negative (-)

- Supports 8X writing, 4x rewriting, 24x reading
- Supports 8X DVD reading
- 2MB buffer
- Supports JustLink anti-buffer underrun protection
- Interface flexibility
- Freecom Power Module
- Very good reading performance with pressed/cdr media
- Very good access times
- Good overall DVD performance
- Can backup SD2 protected CDs
- Good writing speeds
- Good writing quality
- Can playback all MP3 CBR/VBR encoded files
- Can read CD-Text
- Retail package includes 2-years warranty

- Doesn't support overburning
- Low DAE speed
- Low packet writing performance
- Very Bad CloneCD reading performance
- Doesn't support reading 96 bytes of SubChannel data
- Creates partial working SD2 backups
- Cannot read/rip protected AudioCDs
- Cannot read 90/99 min cds
- Limited battery-powered operation
- No connection cables included
- High price

The Freecom Traveller II combo is a good proposal for users who wish an external portable DVD/CD-RW drive. The tests showed that the drive's performance really meets its specifications. It is a very good CD/DVD reader and a fast and quality CD writer. Freecom Traveller II can also play MP3 files and can be connected to your PC/notebook through any interface, according to the Freecom cable you have chosen. The drive's strongest advantage is the adoption of battery pack, which the competition doesn't offer. Last the drive comes with a 2 year warranty (only for European customers).

On the other hand, Freecom Traveller II doesn't offer several features such as overburning, low DAE speed. Another weak part of the drive is that the batteries that are included in the retail package need five to six hours to charge and do not offer the expected operation availability. The batteries powered the drive just for half an hour during an audio CD playback, and then they had to be recharged again. Also, the connection cables are not included in the package and user should spend some extra money to purchase them. The drive itself costs 678 Euro and possibly could be cheaper...



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