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Appeared on: Monday, February 18, 2002
Philips JackRabbit FireWire CD-RW

1. The portable war continues!

Yamaha CRW70 vs Philips JackRabbit - Page 1

The portable war continues!

- Introduction

For all those who work on several jobs on different desktops and use CD-RW drives, Philips and Yamaha offer two solutions: The Philips PCRW1208 JackRabbit, and the Yamaha CRW-70 CD-compact, portable CD-RW drives.

Both drives impress with their stylish design, the easiness of use and the high mobility. They can work as CD-R/RW writers and can be used as MP3 players through the PC or as standalone portable players. The drives support 12x writing speed and come to impress the market since the majority of the competition drives support lower writing speeds.

The main advantage of portable drives over the other CD-RW drives used on PCs, is their portability. We are about to find out whether the small dimensions of these drives allow a compatible CD-RW performance, or not.

- Features

Philips PCRW1208 JackRabbit
Yamaha CRW-70
" Writing: 4x, 8x, 12x (CD-R)
" Rewriting: 2x, 4x, 8x (CD-RW)
" Reading: 36x (Max) (CAV), 24x (Max) (DAE)
" Direct MP3 and audio playback

Interface: USB 1.1/ " Firewire (IEEE 1394)

Buffer: 4MB plus Smart Buffering

TBW: Thermo Balanced Writing
Seamless Link buffer underrun protection
Writing Verification enhancement

Write methods
" Variable/fixed Packet writing
" Multisession

" Writing: 1x, 2x, 4x CLV, 8x-12x P-CAV (CD-R)
" Rewriting: 2x, 4x CLV, 8x Full CAV (CD-RW)
" Reading: 24x (Max) (CAV)
" Direct MP3 and audio playback

Interface: USB 2.0 (USB 1.1 compatible)

Buffer: 8MB

SafeBurn buffer underrun protection
Pure-Phase laser system

Write methods
" Variable/fixed Packet writing

- Unpacking Philips PCRW1208Jr

The supplied package was the retail European contained except from the drive, an application CD-ROM with a drive install wizard, the manual, drivers for the USB interface, Roxio Easy CD Creator and DirectCD as writing/packet writing software. The package included blank media were an 8cm CD-RW 4x max and an 8cm CD-RW 16x max. Also, there are a FireWire and a USB connect cables. The drive comes with a 2-year warranty -for Europe only- (?).

In the bottom picture you see the top side of the drive. The whole design is smart and stylish. The drive is top-opening and in the top silver case you can see the and the "Philips" "JackRabbit" logos.

The control buttons are in the brown-colored area as you see in the picture. There is an eject button, a start/stop button and a handy trackball to control volume and next and previous track functions (start/stop button and trackball are active only when the device is used as standalone). Also, there are two leds with variable lighting according to the drive operation. The light is yellow when the device is on, blue while reading a CD and red when writing.

The connectors are placed in the right side of the drive. There is an ON/OFF button, a headphone jack, the power, USB and FireWire connectors.


- Unpacking Yamaha CRW70

Click to see more!We got the retail package ,which is sold in Japan, and includesd the drive, a software CD containing Nero Burning Rom v. and InCD v.2.32Y for writing and packet writing, NeroMix v1.225 a detailed manual in four languages, audio and power cables, and a universal power supplier.

Yamaha CRW-70 looks rather futuristic. As well as the Philips drive, the Yamaha CRW-70 has a top-open design, and has a titanium-colored case. On the case there is the "Yamaha" and the "Compact Disc" logos.

The control buttons are placed on the front-top of the drive. You can find the eject button, the skip REW/FF buttons which allows you to rewind/skip to the beginning of a track, the pause/stop button, the play/mode button which allows you to start playback or select a playback mode. The playback modes of a track are normal playback, one-track repeat playback, full repeat playback and random playback. The volume (-/+) button is used to adjust the volume of the headphones when connected.

What is also very useful especially when the device is not connected to a PC is the display window, which indicates the operation status of the CRW-70. "Audio" or "MP3" is displayed when an audio or MP3 CD is loaded. The playback mode and the volume indicator bar are also displayed. Lastly, on the display there is the track counter.

On the back of the drive there is the Line Out jack, which enables you to output sound to an audio device such as external speakers, the DC In connector, and the USB port. In the right side of the drive you can also find a headphone jack and the power switch.

The "Power" and "Busy" led are placed on the front side of the drive. The power led lights up orange when the CRW-70 is turned on. The "busy" led lights up green or blinks according to the operation status of the drive. When the device is connected to the PC, the green light is blinking while accessing a CD for recording, writing or reading. The busy led is lit green when the drive is used as a CD/MP3 player during playback, pause or skip operations.

- Installation

We installed both drives and the pictures show that Nero identified the drives as "PHILIPS PCRW1208JR" and "YAMAHA CRW-70". We unchecked the "Auto Insert Notification" and were ready for testing. The Yamaha drive was connected through USB 2.0 interface and the Philips through the Firewire interface.

The Philips PCRW1208Jr drive was an October 2001 model with firmware revision vP1.4 installed. The Yamaha CRW70 was a September 2001 model with v1.0B firmware installed. We used the Nero (, InCD (3.14), CloneCD ( and Padus DJ (3.50.818) for the recording tests.

- Test Machine

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

2. Data Tests

Yamaha CRW70 vs Philips JackRabbit - 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 tests.

* Nero CD Speed v0.85 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

Philips JackRabbit gave almost the same Average Random I/O result with Yamaha CRW-70 (560 kb/sec). In the sequential reading test, the Philips drive is better ,due to its increased reading speed (36x) and gave an 2855 kb/sec. The same sector read test seems to be friendlier to the Yamaha mechanism. The performance here is very high and reaches the 10750 kb/sec, while Philips gave just an 706 kb/sec average result.

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

The Philips PCRW1208JR continues to lead the race at the Nero CD Speed test. The average reading performance for Philips is 29.97X, while the Yamaha CRW70 stays back with 18.35X.

In the same test, we measured the seek time of both drives. As you can see in the graph above, the Philips drive is almost 50% faster than the Yamaha drive. The Philips drive stays below 100msec while the Yamaha drive needs almost 169msecs!

- 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 Philips PCRW1208JR. Unfortunately, the drive was too slow and it had finished the 10% of the job in 3 hours! Yamaha CRW-70 needed 367 seconds to rip the whole CD.

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

The Philips PCRW1208Jr improved its reading performance with the CDR media. The drive reaches 28.62X while the Yamaha stays behind with 18.75X.

3. HS-RW reading tests
Yamaha CRW70 vs Philips JackRabbit - Page 3

HS-RW reading tests

- Nero CD Speed v0.85 Results: (Click to see the Yamaha/Philips CD Speed Graphs)

For the RW tests we used the Mitsubishi Chemicals HS-RW media written at 10x/12x speeds. Both drives read HS-RW at full speed, and Philips PCRW1208Jr due to its 36x reading speed manages to take the first place:

CloneCD Tests

- Procedure

We used CloneCD (v3.2.1.1) 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 Philips PCRW1208JR and Yamaha CR-W70. 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 both drives, as CloneCD reports:

- SafeDisc 1/2 Results

The winner here is clearly identified. Yamaha was really faster than JackRabbit while reading from the original and the backup SafeDisk v1 protected CDs.

Yamaha also gave a better result in reading a SafeDisk v2 protected CD. Philips JackRabbit is close to Yamaha's performance in the original CD test, but fails to follow Yamaha when reading the backup CD.

- LaserLock 1/2 Results

As in the SafeDisk v2 test, in the LaserLock v1 test the Yamaha drive is better. Philips keeps its performance close to Yamaha in the original CD test, but it is not fast enough with the backup CD.

The scenario remains the same for the LaserLock v.2 protected CDs. Yamaha has better results than Philips with an additional high performance in the backup CD test.

- SecuROM Results

Philips does not support reading of subchannel data from data/audio tracks, as CloneCD reports. Yamaha finished the job in 285 sec and 288 sec for the original/backup CDs, respectively.

4. DAE/MP3 Tests

Yamaha CRW70 vs Philips JackRabbit - 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 both drives 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

We used EAC v0.9 prebeta 11 to examine the drive's features. As the program reported, the Philips PCRW1208JR does not support "Caching" and supports "Accurate stream" and "C2 error info".

On the other hand, the Yamaha CRW70 supports 'Caching', 'Accurate Stream' but doens't offer 'C2 error info'.


- Pressed AudioCD results

Yamaha CRW-70 extracted the pressed audio CD at 17.2X, 3.2X faster than Philips PCRW1208JR. The CPU usage for Yamaha is 13 %:

- CDR AudioCD results

The Yamaha CRW70 is still faster than the Philips PCRW1208Jr drive, even with CDR media:

- EAC Secure Extract Ripping mode

After many requests from numerous visitors we have added the 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)
Philips PCRW1208Jr
Yamaha CRW70

- Advanced DAE Quality

Yamaha seems to extract audio files faster than Philips. But what about quality? The advanced DAE quality test gave a perfect 100 score in both drives and a slightly better performance in the extracting speed to Philips JackRabbit.

Lets see also the rest Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE test results for:

- Philips PCRW1208Jr

- Yamaha CRW70

- 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 Of Total Disc (%)
Philips PCRW1208Jr
Yamaha CRW70

Philips PCRW1208JR read our bad quality Audio test disc, faster than Yamaha CRW-70 but produced 0.24% more reading errors.

- Ripping 90 and 99mins AudioCDs

Philips PCRW1208 cannot recognize any 90/99 min media. The drive will just freeze and will not work again until you press the reset button. Yamaha cannot read 90/99 min media either, and the tests with CDSpeed gave a failure reading error in the beginning of the reading process.

- Mp3 Playback feature

Both drives support 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
Philips PCRW1208JR
Yamaha CRW70

VBR MP3 encoding
Encoding Bitrate
Philips PCRW1208JR
Yamaha CRW70

As the test results showed, the Philips PCRW1208JR managed to playback ALL CBR/VBR encoded mp3 files without any noticable problems. The Yamaha CRW-70 playbacks only the CBR MP3 files, encoded up to 192 kb/sec. Both drives will playback MP3/AudioCDs without any problems even under the most 'shocking' situations...We made several attempts to make the drives stop, during playback but our tries ended without any success.

5. CDR Tests
Yamaha CRW70 vs Philips JackRabbit - Page 5

CDR Tests

- Procedure

We tested both drives with Nero v5.5.5.7, Ahead InCD v3.14, CloneCD v3.2.1.1 and, Padus DJ v3.50.818 software. We used various of media for performing our tests: Mitsubishi Chemicals 74/80min 24x certified, Mitsui 74min 24x certified, Taiyo Yuden 74/80min 24x certified, Ricoh 74min 24x certified and Ricoh's 74min HS-RW.

The Philips PCRW1208Jr supports up to 12x (CLV) writing speed, while Yamaha CRW70 continues to use P-CAV in order to reach 12x writing speed. As the Nero CD Speed test showes, the Yamaha CRW-70 starts writing at 8X and linearly increases its writing speed up to 12X, approximately in the time point of 22 minutes, continuing at this speed until the end of writing. The Philips PCRW1208Jr will write at 12x CLV at the whole disc.

- 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 Yamaha CRW-70 was 6 seconds faster than Philips JackRabbit when writing at 8x with 74min CDs. The Yamaha drive also gave lower CPU usage than Philips PCRW1208Jr.

As was expected, the Philips PCRW1208Jr is faster than Yamaha CRW70 drive. The maximum time differences we noted was up to 29secs. Again the Philips PCRW1208Jr takes much higher CPU Usage than the Yamaha drive.

- 80min CD-R Tests

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

We did not manage to write any 79min data CDs with the Philips PCRW1208JR. The Nero software gave an error just before the finalizing CD process was about to be done. The Yamaha CRW-70 finished writing after 472 seconds at the 12x writing speed.

- Overburning Tests

Yamaha CRW-70 can overburn up to 89 min. Philips PCRW1208JR does not support overburning.

- CD-Text Results

Both drives can write CD-Text but only Philips PCRW1208JR can read it.

- CloneCD Writing Tests

The CloneCD v3.2.1.1 reports that the Philips drive supports only the DAO-RAW feature. We performed our usual tests and we confirmed that the drive supports fully the DAO-RAW writing mode (Safedisc 1.0, LaserLock 1/2 and SecuROM 2). With the Yamaha CRW-70 supports RAW DAO and RAW SAO+SUB writing modes.

- 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 both drivesas readers/writers. The produced backup(s) didn't work using the same or any other drives we tested with. Therefore, both drives cannot produce SD2 working backups.

- 8cm mini CDs

Both drives support writing/reading of 8 cm mini CDs.

- Buffer Underrun tests

Philips CRW1208JR supports the "SeamlessLink" and Yamaha CRW-70 the "SafeBurn" anti-coaster technologies. We made several on-the-fly copies with CloneCD v3.0x series without any problems.

6. Writing Quality Tests
Yamaha CRW70 vs Philips JackRabbit - Page 6

Writing Quality Tests

We used Creation's (Plasmon based) 16x certified media for our writing quality tests. We used Nero 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
Average Burning Time (secs)
Yamaha CRW70 (OWC off)
Yamaha CRW3200E (OWC on)
Philips PCRW1208JR

Philips JackRabbit gave a remarkable low C1 rate if you have in mind that the media we used for this test have not the highest quality. The included 'Thermo Balanced Writing' system seems that is working very good.

The Yamaha CRW-70 gave a higher average error rate either with OWC enabled and disabled. The enabled OWC helped Yamaha to produce slightly higher quality recordings.

7. RW Writing Tests

Yamaha CRW70 vs Philips JackRabbit - Page 7

RW Writing Tests

We used Nero for writing CDs at the maximum RW speed for all the tested drives. Both drives support up to 8x re-writing speed:

Philips PCRW1208JR refused to write in a HSRW disc, when we used Nero or CloneCD. The drive freezes when the drive accesses the CD, and what we have to say is that it is possibly a drive firmware bug. The Yamaha CRW-70 needs 593 seconds to write the HS-RW ,at 8x, and 53 seconds to "quickly" erase it.

- Packet Writing Tests

We used Ahead InCD v3.14 for all Packet Writing tests with a Mitsubishi Chemicals 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:

The Philips CRW1208JR was faster both as reader/writer under the packet writing mode. The difference in writing speed between both drives is small, but in the writing procedure, the Philips drive is faster than the Yamaha CRW-70. The Philips CRW1208JR reads from the packet writing formatted HS-RW disc at 18.5X, while the Yamaha CRW70 at only 4.85X.

8. Philips PCRW1208Jr Conclusion

Yamaha CRW70 vs Philips JackRabbit - Page 8

Philips PCRW1208Jr Conclusion

Positive (+)

Negative (-)

- Supports 12X CLV writing, 8x rewriting, 36x reading
- Supports Seamless Link anti-buffer underrun protection
- 4MB buffer
- Thermo Balanced Technology (TBW) produces very good writing quality!!!
- Supports both Firewire/USB 1.1 interfaces
- Very good reading performance with pressed/cdr media
- Can playback all MP3 CBR/VBR encoded files
- Can read/write CD-Text
- Retail package includes 2-years warranty

- Doesn't support overburning
- No LCD screen
- Problems writing 80min/HS-RW CDs
- Very Bad CloneCD reading performance
- Doesn't support reading SubChannel data from Audio/Data tracks
- Cannot read 90/99 min cds
- Cannot backup SD2 CDs
- Produces lot of noise and HEAT during operation!
- Price (?)

Yamaha CRW70 Conclusion

Positive (+)

Negative (-)

- Attractive design
- Supports USB 1.2/2.0 interfaces
- SafeBurn anti-buffer underrun protection
- 8MB buffer
- Includes LCD screen
- Supports Mp3 Playback (up to 192kpbs)
- Can write CD-Text
- Supports DAO-RAW
- Very good CloneCD reading performance
- Supports reading of SubChannel data
- Supports overburning (up to 91mins)
- Very good retail package (contains Nero)
- Includes 2-years warranty (applies only for Europe)

- 12x P-CAV writing speed is slower than 12x CLV
- LCD screen doesn't support ID3 tags
- High C1 error rate with low quality media
- Cannot playback VBR and CBR (>192kbps) Mp3 files
- Cannot backup SD2 CDs
- Cannot read 90/99 min cds
- Produces lot of noise during operation!
- Expensive ($300)

In past we had few expectations from external portable recorders, but nowadays this has changed. The Philips PCRW1208Jr and Yamaha CRW70 are two fine examples of the evolution of CD recording. Both drives support 12x writing, even with different writing technologies approaches, 8x re-writing and 36x/24x reading speeds respectively. Also both drives support Mp3 playback, without the need of PC, and 2 years of warranty!

In details, the Philips drive is faster when reading/writing pressed/CDR media. Its writing quality seems superb and its embedded USB 1.1/FireWire interfaces makes the drive as a perfect solution for both PC/MAC users. On the other hand the lack of LCD screen, the high noise/heat during operation, the various problems we encountered during trying writing 80min/HS-RW media will disappoint you. Lastly even the drive has the Philips label upon it will not backup SD2 CDs :(

The Yamaha drive has more attractive design, includes a smart LCD screen, has very good CloneCD reading performance and the retail package is complete. On the other hand its slower when reading/writing CDs, the LCD screen should be bigger - to include ID3 tags - and the writing quality seem high enough when low quality media being used. The Yamaha CRW70 seems a better solution due to its very good behaviour with 80min/HS-RW CDs.

None of the two drives will make its owner 100% pleased since our needs keep growing day by day. Each drive has its own positive/negatives and probably targets to different audience as the connection interface(s) shows off. The price could be the ultimate criterion for your final judgment but then again as it seems, both drives are priced high enough. As it seems nothing in this life is perfect ;-)

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