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Appeared on: Sunday, February 17, 2002
AOpen CRW1632 CD-RW


1. Introduction

AOpen CRW1632 IDE CDR-W - Page 1

- Introduction:

is a company that ships products for the entire PC platform, including optical storage devices. AOpen products may not be the leaders of the CD-authoring race but are surely popular among the users for their good performance and nice price. Recently, AOpen entered the 16x writing race with the "CRW1632" model. Can the new proposal from AOpen compete and win the already known Plextor, LiteOn and Teac recorders? Let's find out...

- Features:
The drive supports 16x writing (CLV) max speed among with "JustLink" and "JustSpeed" technologies. The exact writing speeds are 2x, 4x, 8x, 12x, 16x (CLV) and re-writing speeds 2x, 4x, 10 (CLV). The drive also includes 2MB of buffer and supports all available writing modes (TAO, SAO, DAO, Multisession and Packet Writing).

- The New features:

The Ricoh MP7200A was the first recorder that supported "Just Speed" technology. The AOpen CRW1632 also supports "JustSpeed" which ensures that a high speed burning suitability check -of the CD medium- is made, when the CD is loaded into the device. If the check is successful, the burner automatically adjusts the medium's optimal burning speed between 12x and 16x for the high-speed process. The Just Speed technology avoids disc errors and slow writing speeds. The mechanism controls the maximum writing speed by:

(1) using the ATIP information (maker name, model number, etc. pre-recorded on disc),

(2) performing test writing to the OPC area at the inner circumference of the disc. This write test defines the basic speed information for the burning operation.

(3) making another test that makes sure that the blank CD has no manufacturing flaws. This test decides if the whole CD can be written at the speed selected in step 2 or if further adjustment is needed.

After running these 3 tests in the background, the AOpen CRW1632 starts burning automatically at optimal speed.

- The package:
The package supplied was the retail European version. This included: The drive itself, a printed manual in 6 languages, 1 piece (16x certified) of AOpen 74min CD-R blank (actual manufacturer Ritek), 1 piece of AOpen 74min 4-10x High-Speed RW Blank (actual manufacturer Plasmon Data), audio cable and mounting screws. The software supplied with the drive was Nero Burning ROM v5.5.3.0 OEM and Ahead InCD v2.2.3 (for packet writing use). There is also an Mp3 encoder/player ["Gamut 2000" v1.20], which some users, may find useful.

The front of the drive is what we can call "generic". The drive doesn't have the AOpen logo printed on it. It does include though, the "High-Speed RW", "JustLink" logos. User will understand directly the drive's specs from the "16x10x32x" logo. You will also find only one led, the eject button (the smallest we ever saw in recorder) and the headphone input jack/volume selector:

At the backside of the drive we will find the usual connectors (IDE interface, power), the jumpers for making the drive Master/Slave, the SPDIF output connector, the analog/digital output connectors and 3 jumpers which are used to setup the drive's working mode, PIOMode4 (default) or UDMA33. For setting up the UDMA33 mode you just have to remove the middle jumper:

- Installation:
The AOpen 1632 was installed as a Master in the secondary IDE BUS. The drive worked in UDMA33 mode and after booting, identified itself as the "AOpen CD-RW CRW1632". We unchecked the Auto Insert notification, checked DMA and rebooted.

The drive was a July 2001 model with firmware revision v1.03 installed. We used the Nero (5.5.3.5), InCD (2.26), CloneCD (3.0.5.1) and Padus DJ (3.50.799) for the recording tests.

- Test Machine:
WinMe 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
AOpen CRW1632 firmware v1.03
PleXWriter PX-W1610A firmware v1.03
TEAC CD-516EB firmware v1.0A
Lite-On LTR-16101B firmware vTS0N


2. Data Tests

AOpen CRW1632 IDE CDR-W - Page 2

Data Tests

Test Method:
- SCSI Mechanic v3.0x: This was used to compare the drive's  I/O performance against other various CDR-W drives (see charts). We used a pressed CD containing PlexTools v1.08 for all of the tests.
- Nero CD Speed v0.83b was also used to check the drive's performance with pressed CDs. For that test, we also used the PlexTools v1.08 pressed CD.

- SCSI Mechanic v3.0x results:

The AOpen 1632 cannot really compare to the rest of drives since it supports only 32x max reading speed. However the fact that its writing/re-writing capabilities are the same with the competition, made it comparable....

- Nero CD Speed v0.83 results: (click here to see the CD Speed 99 graph)

Using Nero CD Speed 0.83b, we can see that the drive's average reading speed is around 24.84X.

In the "Seek Times" test, the AOpen CRW1632 performed very good. Its average random seek times are at the same levels with LiteOn LTR-16101B but its numbers are higher than what Teac 516EB gives.

- PSX Pressed Media:
In order to fulfil user requests, we have included a test with mixed mode CDs (mainly PSX). For this test we used the PSX game 'NBA Jam Extreme' and we ripped the image to HD with CloneCD. We measured the reading times and the AOpen 1632 is not the best solution for someone who wants to have fast PSX images ripped into his HD, since it's the slower among the four tested drives:

- CDR Media: (click here to see the CD Speed 99 graph)

With CDR media, the AOpen CRW1632 has around 25.12X average reading speed.


3. RW reading tests
AOpen CRW1632 IDE CDR-W - Page 3

RW reading tests

- Nero CD Speed v0.83b Test: (Click here to see the CD Speed 99 graph)

For the RW tests, we used TDK's HS-RW media. The AOpen CRW1632 drive gave back the same performance level as the PleXWriter PX-W1610A:

CloneCD Reading Tests

- Procedure:
We used CloneCD (v3.0.5.1) 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 performance of AOpen CRW1632. We also tested the reading performance with backups of the original CDs, since the reading speed varies between original and backup media. For comparison reasons we added the results of the already tested PleXWriter PX-W1610A, Teac CD-W516EB and LiteOn LTR-16101B. The following picture shows the AOpen CRW1632 reading/writing capabilities:

- SafeDisc 1/2 Results:

The AOpen CRW1632 gave back a great performance when it came to the reading of protected SafeDisc v1 CDs. Its performance was the second best behind PleXWriter PX-W1610A.

With SafeDisc v2.0 protected CDs, the AOpen CRW1632 is a stable reader and gives back a pretty good number, which even though, cannot reach the high performance of PleXWriter PX-W1610A.

LaserLock 1/2 Results:

In the LaserLock protected CDs test, the AOpen CRW1632 gave back the best reading time with the original CDs and the second best time with the backup media.

Again with LaserLock 2 LaserLock 2 protected CDs, AOpen reads them faster than competition, with original CD. With the backup CD, PleXWriter leads the race.

SecuROM Results:

The AOpen CRW1632 can read SubChannel data from Data/Audio tracks very fast! The competition simply cannot follow...


4. DAE Tests

AOpen CRW1632 IDE CDR-W - Page 4

DAE 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 AOpen CRW1632 with various AudioCDs (both pressed and CDR). The posted DAE results are the average of both applications, but the CPU usage was only taken from CD DAE 99, since EAC occupies the system a lot more. As a last 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:
As the program reported, the drive doesn't "Caching" data, supports "Accurate Stream" and doesn't support "C2 Error info".

 

- Pressed AudioCD results: (click here to see the CD Speed 99 graph)
The AOpen supports up to 32x DAE with both pressed and CDR media. The drive uses full CAV as the main reading technology. However compared to the other competitors, AOpen CRW1632A is slower:

The drive has an average of 23.3x, staying far away from the top performer PX-W1610A. The LiteOn LTR-16101B comes second and Teac 516EB third.

- CDR AudioCD Results: (click here to see the CD Speed 99 graph)
The drive performs quite well with CDR media. The average DAE was around 23.5X:

- EAC Secure Extract Ripping mode

After many viewer-requests we have added the EAC's secure extract ripping mode results, which ensures maximum produced WAV quality. Notice that for each drive we used the build-in detection function:

Tested Drives
Average DAE Speed (X)
Pressed
CDR
LiteOn LTR-16101B
10.08
7.5
Teac 516EB
1.7
1.7
PleXWriter PX-W1610A
8.4
8.9
AOpen CRW1632
17
16.5

- Advanced DAE Quality

The AOpen CRW1632 performed excellently at the Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE quality test. The drive produced 0 data/sync errors and got a perfect score (100). LiteOn didn't perform as you might expect in the CD Speed 99 Advanced DAE test. The drive produced 58750 data errors, and got 98.1 score out of 100 (perfect). The drive cannot read "CD-Text" enabled AudioCDs and can read "SubChannel Data" (from audio tracks):

- 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 (%)
LiteOn LTR-16101B
26
155252
0,02
Teac 516EB
26,8
0
0
PleXWriter PX-W1610A
29.3
5069
almost 0
AOpen CRW1632
8.7
671353896
88,74%

As the tests showed, the only drive that managed to read the disc without reporting any error was the Teac 516EB! The Plextor drive came second with only 5069 errors. The LiteOn drive reported 155252 errors and as for the AOpen drive, performed very bad since almost 88.74% of the read data weren't correct.

- Ripping 90 and 99min CDs:

>> Click To Enlarge!

As we can see from the above graphs, the AOpen CRW1632 doesn't have any problem ripping both 90min and 99min CDs.


5. CDR Tests
AOpen CRW1632 IDE CDR-W - Page 5

CDR Tests

Click To Enlarge!The AOpen CRW1632 supports up to 16x (CLV) writing speed. We used Nero CD Speed build-in writing test in order to test the drive's writing performance. The drive's average writing speed is 16.04X as Nero CD Speed revealed.

The drive also supports JustSpeed, which automatically will reduce the writing speed in case an un-certified 16x CD is inserted and the drive detects that cannot be written safely at the maximum writing (16X) speed.

- Procedure:

We tested the AOpen CRW1632 with Nero v5.5.3.5, CloneCD v3.0.5.1 and Padus DJ v3.50.799 software.

For the CDR tests we used: Verbatim 74min (16x) & 80min (16x), Taiyo Yuden 74 & 80min (24x), Mitsui 74min (24 & 16x) and Ricoh/Verbatim/TDK 74min HS-RW media. We did notice that the drive didn't like at all Creation 74min 12x (made from Plasmon) media and we had "Medium Speed Error" all times we tried (both with JustSpeed on/off).

- CD-R Tests:
We created a "DataCD" with an amount of data slightly higher than 74mins (74:03:65). We burned the same data amount with all 4 CDR-W drives:

The AOpen CRW1632 stays very close to the competition and needs 407 secs to finish the task, 2 more than PleXWriter PX-W1610A and one more than LiteOn drive. The CPU Usage is slightly higher than the competition.

The drive's performance at 16x (with JustSpeed disabled) was very good and it actually got the second place behind PleXWriter. The difference with JustSpeed On/Off and certified 16x media is very small (around 3-4secs). But for safety reasons, AOpen suggests to have "JustSpeed" always on.

- 80min CDs:
As with the previous test, we created a DataCD (80:01:47) and used the same media for all burns:

Again in the 80min CD task, the AOpen CRW1632 needs 6more seconds than PleXWriter and 3 more than the LiteOn drive. Of course those small differences can be reduced/increased after de-activate/activate "JustSpeed" and use different CDR media.

With 80min CDs at the 16x writing speed, AOpen CRW1632 has the second best writing time, behind PleXWriter PX-W1610A. The LiteOn needs 4 more seconds and as for Teac, it needs around 22secs more to finish the task.

- Overburning Tests:
The AOpen CRW1632 supports overburning up to 99minutes!

- CD-Text Results:
We created several AudioCDs with CD-Text enabled. The AOpen can write/read CD-Text Audio CDs.

- CloneCD Tests:
The CloneCD v3.0.5.1 reports that the drive supports the DAO-RAW writing feature. The drive also supports JustLink. From our tests results DAO-RAW writing works without any problem for the SafeDisc 1, LaserLock 1/2 and SecuROM 2 protections.

- SD2 Support:
For the SD2 tests we used the "No One Lives For Ever" and "Emperor Battle for Dune" CD titles. We used the AOpen CRW1632 both as reader/writer. The produced backup didn't play using the same drive or any drive we tested. Therefore the AOpen CRW1632 cannot produce SD2 working backups.

- 8cm mini CDs:
The AOpen does support 8cm CDs and/or business cards. We did a burn with a business card CD which was successful, despite the loud noise while writing/reading.

- Buffer Underrun tests:
The AOpen CRW1632 supports the "JustLink" anti-buffer underrun technology that has been developed by Ricoh. The drive worked without any problems when buffer underrun caused from our side.


6. RW Writing Tests

AOpen CRW1632 IDE CDR-W - Page 6

RW Writing Tests

We used Nero 5.5.3.5 for writing CDs in maximum RW writing speed for all the tested drives in 10x HS-RW media. All drives support fully the HS-RW writing standard:

The AOpen CRW1632 leads this test with the lowest time! The other drives need from 4, up to 9 more secs to finish the task. The CPU Usage is slightly increased while the erase time is considered good (48secs).

- Packet Writing Tests:
We used Ahead InCD v2.26 for all Packet Writing tests. We used TDK HS-RW media and we formatted it. The formatted disc revealed 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:

The results showed that the AOpen CRW1632 had the best packet writing performance and the second best (16.36X) when reading packet formatted discs.


7. Conclusion

AOpen CRW1632 IDE CDR-W - Page 7

Conclusion

Positive (+):

Negative (-):

- Supports 16x writing (CLV) speed
- "JustLink" anti-coaster technology
- "JustSpeed" media quality detection system
- Very Good data reading performance
- Very Good Seek times
- Very good packet writing performance!
- Supports HS-RW standard (10x re-write)
- Supports DAO-RAW
- Very Good CloneCD reading performance
- Supports reading/writing of SubChannel Data
- Supports CD-Text (reading/writing)
- Supports Overburning (up to 99mins)
- Supports Ultra-DMA 33 connection interface
- Retail package includes Nero 5.5
- Looowww price (91$<=)

- Supports only 32x reading speed, which makes the drive not direct comparable to the competition...
- Fair DAE ripping performance (with CDR media)
- DAE quality is not perfect...
- Failed to backup SD2 protected CDs
- Very small eject button

AOpen's latest CD-RW drive proposal comes at a very strange timing...The 16x writing speed has been around from January of 2001 and already 20x and 24x recorders have already hit the market. The only change for AOpen was to ship a low priced recorder with good features that will attract the non-power user's eye. The drive supports 16x writing speed among with "JustLink" and "JustSpeed" technologies. The drive's overall performance was very good with various CDR media, and for getting the maximum speed you will have to disable "JustSpeed" sacrifice the quality for the less recording time.

The drive biggest disadvantage is the 32x maximum reading speed, since automatically cannot compete to the other 16x recorders. The DAE quality also needs improvement the lack of SD2 support will not make users happy.

Let's see if the drive can compete it's rivals at the area that is supposed to: "Price". A quick look over Pricewatch shows that LiteOn 16x lowest price is 91$, Teac 516EB 115$ and PleXWriter PX-W1610A 162$. As we said the drive estimated to cost around 91$ which makes it very attractive for users who wish to enter the recording area, with a stable and 'fairly priced' recorder.



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