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Appeared on: Monday, February 18, 2002
Ricoh MP7200A CD-RW


1. Ricoh ships the first 20x recorder!

Ricoh MP7200A IDE CDR-W - Page 1

Ricoh ships the first 20x recorder!

- Introduction:
Ricoh has been a big competitor for Sanyo and Yamaha in the race for the fastest recorder. They followed very quick Sanyo at 12x writing speed recorders but stayed back in the 16x writing race. Ricoh had to do something to get back the lost ground and in March of 2001 announced the "MP7200A" series model. Yamaha and Sanyo at the same time announced their 20x and 24x writing solutions. After being the first ever website who tested Sanyo's 24x writing recorder we are testing the first ever 20x writing CDR-W drive.

The new recorder supported 20x writing, 10x re-writing and 40x reading speed, making it a great performer, at least in the specs. The MP7200A contains 2 new techniques: "Zone-CLV" recording mode and "JustSpeed" quality control mechanism. According to Ricoh there are several other improvements over the previous Ricoh CDR-W drives:

- New developed digital control LSI controls the pulse width with precision boasting 1.5 times of the traditional mechanism, thus allowing for stable write at high-speed.
- Improved dust prevention
- Power consumption at standby reduced to less than 1W. In addition, the PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) algorithm used at the spindle motor driver enables low heat emission design.
- Supports Ultra-DMA33 connection interface

- The New features:

The Ricoh MP7200A is the first recorder that supports "Just Speed" technology. This new technology ensures that a high speed burning suitability check of the CD medium made when the CD is loaded for burning. If the check is successful, the burner automatically adjusts the medium's optimal burning speed between 12x and 20x for the high-speed process. The Just Speed technology avoids disc errors and slow writing speed. 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 needed.

After running these 3 tests in the background, the MP7200A-DP starts burning automatically at optimal speed.

(Constant Linear Velocity) is the recording technology that Ricoh MP7200A uses in order to achieve a higher recording speed (20x). The same technique used from Sanyo's CRD-BP5/1500P models (24/10/40) but in a different materialization. When a recorder uses the Zone CLV recording method, the CD is divided in 3 zones from the inner to the outer parts of the CD, in which the recording speed varies:

As we can see from the above graph, the CD divided in 3 zones, which are separated from T1 and T2 time spaces. In each zone the writing speed is CLV (Constant Linear Velocity) making the rpm at the inside perimeter low which is useful for the lasting long time of the mechanism. The actual recording speed is adjusted from the "JustSpeed" (Optimum Write Speed Control). Depending on the ON/OFF setting of this function, the write speed is controlled as specified below:

- When the speed control is ON: Writing is performed at the speed of 12X in the lead-in area, at 16X from the 0-minute position up to around the 5-minute position, and then accelerating up to 20X approximately from the 5-minute position to the 15-minute position.

- When the speed control is OFF: Writing is performed at the speed of 12X in the lead-in area, at 16X from the 0-minute position up to around the 10-minute position, and 20X from around the 10-minute position and after.

- The package:
The package supplied was the retail Europe version. This included: The drive itself, a set-up guide, 1 piece (24x certified) of Ricoh 80min CD-R blank, 1 piece of Ricoh 74min High-Speed RW Blank, audio cables and mounting screws. The software supplied with the MP7200A was Nero Burning ROM v5.5.1.1 and Ahead InCD v1.90 (for packet writing use). There is not any printed manual included - just an electronic PDF file, which must be read especially from the novice users. After checking the drive's features we saw that it cannot playback AudioCDs with "CD-Text" and cannot write 8cm CDs (only read them in horizontal position) :(

The front of the drive will remind us a typical Ricoh CDR-W drive. It includes the model's code (MP7200A) along with the "JustLink", "HighSpeed" logo and of course the drive features (20x/10x/40x). You will also find only one led, the eject button and the headphone input jack/volume selector:

At the back of the drive we will find the usual connectors (IDE interface, power), the jumpers for making the drive Master/Slave, the SPDIF output connector and 3 jumpers which are not used (factory reserved).

- Installation:
The Ricoh MP7200A was installed as Master in the primary IDE BUS. The drive worked in UDMA-2 mode and after booting, identified itself as the "Ricoh CD-R/RW MP7200A". We unchecked the Auto Insert notification, checked DMA and rebooted.

The drive was an April 2001 model with firmware revision v1.02. We used the latest version for Nero (5.5.1.8), InCD (2.11), CloneCD (3.0.1.1) and Padus DJ (3.00.780) for the recording tests. As we can see from Nero's features picture we can select if "JustLink" and/or "JustSpeed" would be enabled/or not by default.

- 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
Yamaha 2100E firmware v1.0n
PleXWriter PX-W1610A firmware v1.01
Ricoh MP7200A firmware v1.02
Sanyo CRD-BP1500P firmware vV.vz32


2. Data Tests

Ricoh MP7200A IDE CDR-W - Page 2

Data Tests

Test Method:
- SCSI Mechanic v3.0x: This was used to compare the Ricoh'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.
- CD Speed 99 v0.80 also used to check the drive performance with pressed CDs. For that test, we used PlexTools v1.08 pressed CD.

- SCSI Mechanic v3.0x results

The Ricoh MP7200, due to its very good seek times, has the biggest "Average Random I/O" result among the 4 tested drives. The drive gets the second place in the "Average Sequential I/O" with 4555kb/s. As it seems it needs further development to reach the first PX-W1610A. Last the drive's "Average Same Sector I/O" value is low (among with Sanyo's CRD-BP1500P), showing that the drive's caching is not the best around.

- CD Speed 99 v0.80 results: (click here to see the CD Speed 99 graph)

Using CD Speed 0.80, we have different results from the SCSI Mechanic tests. Here the Ricoh MP7200A gets the first place (31.13x) with the PX-W1610A second (with slight difference). The BP1500P comes third and the Yamaha 2100E comes last.

Again in the "Seek Times" test results, the Ricoh MP7200A gets the first place with under 100ms seek time complying with the drive's specifications. The competition has far bigger access times and we assume that must follow soon Ricoh's example.

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

The Ricoh MP7200A continues to lead the speed-reading race with 31.43x average reading speed. The PleXWriter PX-W1610A is again second, Sanyo CRD-BP1500P third and Yamaha 2100E last.


3. RW reading tests
Ricoh MP7200A IDE CDR-W - Page 3

RW reading tests

- CD Speed 99 v0.8 Test: (Click here to see the CD Speed 99 graph)

For the RW tests, we used TDK's HS-RW media. The Ricoh MP7200A gave the second best average reading test result (28.85x) among the 4 tested drives, since at the end of the 74min gave a rather weird slow down to 21.25x:

CloneCD Reading Tests

- Procedure:
We used CloneCD (v3.0.1.1) and 3 original CDs (Rally Masters, Euro2000 and Vrally 2 Expert) in order to test the reading time of Ricoh's MP7200A. We also tested the reading performance with backups of the original CDs since the reading speed varies among original and backup media. For comparison reasons we added the results from Yamaha 2100E, PleXWriter PX-W1610A and Sanyo CRD-BP1500P.

- Results:

a) SafeDisc Results: Euro 2000 (Total: 257982 sectors - 10141 bad sectors) - Reading Speed: Max

The Ricoh MP7200A gave a rather bad reading test results with both the original and the backup CD. Both Yamaha 2100E and the PlexWriter PX-W1610A do not have any problem skipping SafeDisc 1.0 errors and give the best results.

b) LaserLock Results: Rally Masters (Total: 321528 sectors - 6317 bad sectors) - Reading Speed: Max

With the LaserLock protected CDs, Ricoh MP7200A has a good performance, especially with the original CD. However the competition is faster at both original/protected CDs.

c) SecuROM Results: Vrally2 Expert - 343767 sectors

The Ricoh MP7200A not only has no problem reading SubChannel data but also reads them damn fast! Just check the above graph :-)


4. DAE Tests

Ricoh MP7200A IDE CDR-W - Page 4

DAE Tests

Test Method:
We used CD DAE 99 v0.21 beta and EAC v0.9 prebeta 9 software in order to check the DAE performance of the Ricoh MP7200A with various AudioCDs (both pressed and CDR). The posted DAE results are the average of both applications, but the CPU usage 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 displayed in the test graphs.

- DAE features:
We used EAC v0.9 prebeta 9 to examine the drive's features. As the program reported, the drive doesn't "Caching" data and supports "Accurate Stream" and "C2 Error info". The specifications state that the drive can reach up to 40x DAE (max) with both pressed and CDR media.

- Pressed AudioCD results: (click here to see the CD Speed 99 graph)
The Ricoh MP7200A revealed some problems reading pressed CDs. When we first tried our usual Pressed test disc the results were very bad once the drive denied giving a decent DAE ripping speed. We also made several tests with other pressed Audio CDs, under which Ricoh MP7200A showed a good performance with some of them and a bad one with the rest. This leads us to the conclusion, that Ricoh engineers must look again on this particular issue and fix it with a newer firmware revision.

Pressed Audio Disc
Average DAE Performance
Pressed CD 1 (test disc)
15,2
Pressed CD 2
22,4
Pressed CD 3
26,1
Pressed CD 4
26,1

For the above graph we used the DAE performance with our normal test disc, which had the worst results:

- CDR AudioCD Results: (click here to see the CD Speed 99 graph)
We said earlier that the Ricoh MP7200A seemed to have DAE problems with pressed CDs. With our test CDR media discs we didn't have any serious problem (noticed slowdowns mostly in the outer tracks of the tests discs), but when we used some quite old CDR media the drive produced wav files with lot of errors...:

Note: The drive had many problems with scratched/dusted CDR media and produced lot of error during DAE extraction....

- Advanced DAE Quality

The Ricoh MP7200A completed the CD Speed 99 "Advanced DAE test", and gave us very good results.

The average reading speed was 29.64x and as we can see from the left picture the drive cannot read "CD-Text" enabled audioCDs, but can read "SubChannel Data". Last the drive got 100 quality score (max) , since it produced zero sync/data errors.

 

- Ripping 90 and 99min CDs

>>>

As we can see from the above graphs, the Ricoh MP7200A doens't have any problem ripping 90min CDs, and seems to have some problems reading above 98minutes.


5. CDR Tests - Page 1

Ricoh MP7200A IDE CDR-W - Page 5

CDR Tests - Page 1

The Ricoh MP7200A is the first *retail* CDR-W drive that supports 20x writing speed. The drive uses Zone-CLV writing technology, which is very close to the actual 20x real CLV writing. We used CD Speed 99 build-in writing test in order to test the drive's writing performance:

Press to see the complete graph!

As CD Speed 99 showed, the drive starts writing at 16x (CLV) and just before 10minutes jumps off to 20x (CLV) and continues to write until the end at this speed. The average writing speed is around 19.50x (very close to 20x), since the jump from 16x-->20x writing speed is done in short time (under the first 10minutes)...

As we already stated in our introduction, the actual writing speed of the drive differs from what "JustSpeed" technology orders. When the "Just Speed" is activated, the drive automatically adjusts the writing speed for having the best quality results. This means that low quality media will NOT be allowed to be written at the maximum speed, making 20x/24x certified media an absolute need.

For example, notice what Nero 5.5.1.8 reports:

Heh. What happened? Nero went crazy and reported the drive has only 12x maximum speed? Nope.... We just have activated "JustSpeed" and inserted a blank CDR media in the drive.

Ricoh MP7200A made its internal testing and decided that the safest maximum writing speed for the specific media is only 12x (despite the fact that the specific media is 16x certified...). Therefore automatically lowered the writing speed and the CDR software complied with this change. If we then visit Nero's writing tab, 16x and 20x options are gone! In simple words, we cannot write this specific media at 16x or 20x since "JustSpeed" forbids these speeds too. This is the protection that "Just Speed" offers. We have noticed that with Mitsui's 16x printable media, even if the drive supported 20x writing, in the real burn the drive "lowered" the recording speed.

What if we de-activate "Just-Speed"? The software will ignore the drive's suggestions and will give you full writing speed control (and the desired 20x writing speed), even with uncertified 20x/24x media:

Nero however, when start recording it will give you a warning signal "recording quality may be affected not using JustSpeed option" and after a while the drive will automatically lower the recording speed to 16x, if the inserted media is not 20x/24x certified.

- Procedure:

We tested the Ricoh MP7200A with Nero v5.5.1.8, CloneCD v3.0.1.1 and Padus DJ v3.00.780 software.

We had the same problem as with the Sanyo CRD-BP1500P...The media. Of course, the retail package has one 24x media but you cannot make any serious testing with only one media. Therefore, all our main tests done with 16x certified media, which wouldn't give the best results. When 24 x certified media come out in massive volumes, we will update our review.

Ricoh 20x certified media...Coming soon in retail stores!For the CDR tests we used: Verbatim 74min (16x) & 80min (16x), Mitsui 74min (16x), Prodisc 80min (16x) silver and Plextor/Verbatim/TDK 74min HS-RW media.

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

As we can see, the Ricoh MP7200A makes the second best lower time 5secs behind the PX-W1610A). The Sanyo CRD-BP1500P follows (318sec) and the Yamaha 2100E comes last due to its P-CAV writing technology.

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

In this test, Ricoh MP7200A lowered it's time difference to 2 secs from PX-W1610A. The Sanyo CRD-BP1500P again needs one more seconds to finish the task and as for Yamaha 2100E stays behind with 353secs...


6. CDR Tests - Page 2

Ricoh MP7200A IDE CDR-W - Page 6

CDR Tests - Page 2

- Comparison between various recording technologies

All 4 tested CDR-W drive have different recording technologies in order to achieve the highest recording speed:

- Yamaha 2100E: supports 16x P-CAV
- PleXWriter PX-W1610A: supports 16x CLV
- Ricoh MP7200: supports 20x Zone-CLV
- Sanyo CRD-BP1500P: supports 24x Zone-CLV

Here is the most interesting graph of our test... How the various recording technologies from our 4 contestants perform and which one gives us the lower recording time? Yes i know you probably have thought of it, but let us explain:

(The above recording times for Ricoh MP7200A and Sanyo CRD-BP1500P done with 16x certified CDs. That means the real recording time with 24x certified media will be equal (or probably lower) that the one is who are posted above. Anyway, let's compare them...)

As you may have expected the Sanyo CRD-BP1500P has the lower recording time, since it is the faster among the 4 recorders. The interesting part here is that the Ricoh MP7200A is only 30 secs slower for both 74 &80min tests. In other words, Sanyo CRD-BP1500P does a full 74minutes in 3:51mins and Ricoh MP7200A in 4:24minutes. The PleXWriter PX-W1610A needs 48secs, than Ricoh MP7200A, to finish the task and as for Yamaha 2100E needs a complete extra minute (60secs) more. More or less the same time differences apply for the 80minutes CDs also...

Of course with 24x certified media, the burning times for Ricoh MP7200A, may be somewhat lower. Nevertheless these results are very close to what Ricoh posts on their webpage. Ricoh posted a tests comparison (above picture), between the MP7200A and MP7125A models, when burning a full 74min CD. The reported burning time (260secs) is very close to what (264secs) our tests (even with 16x certified media) gave back!!!

So, is there a possibility that Nero's warning about reducing the writing speed is not real? Could it be that even with 16x certified media you are finally getting the maximum writing speed? We will know for sure when we will have 24x certified media in our hands for extensive tests:

- Testing various media at 20x Z-CLV writing speed

The majority of the tested media did not seem to have any major problems writing at 20x Z-CLV writing speed. Of course we always had Nero's warning about reducing the writing speed, but the final results was pretty close to what Ricoh engineers officially posted in their website (check above for more details).

We tried to burn 5 CDs in ROW of each media at 20x writing speed (with JustLink de-activated) with Nero 5.5.1.8, in order to see the behavoir of our test media:

74min Tests
Tested Media
Best Burn Time
Worst Burn Time
Best Simulation Time
Worst Simulation Time
Mitsui 74min 16x SG
4:25
4:33
4:19
4:20
Verbatim DataLife Plus 74min 16x
4:30
4:31
4:19
4:19
Verbatim Datalife Plus 74min 24x(?)
4:24
4:25
4:19
4:19
Ricoh 80min 24x (JustSpeed activated)
-
-
4:23
4:23
80min Tests
Tested Media
Best Burn Time
Worst Burn Time
Best Simulation Time
Worst Simulation Time
Prodisc 80min 16x (silver bottom)
4:48
4:51
4:35
4:37
Verbatim DataLife Plus 80min 16x

4:43

4:43
4:37
4:42
Ricoh 80min 24x
(JustSpeed activated)
-
-
4:42
4:42

As we can see from our comparison tables, we had the best performance at 74min CD tests with Verbatim DataLife Plus 24x(?) - (note: We put a "?" in the media since Verbatim send us the media as 24x and the box said 16x+..) - 4:24minutes. In the 80min CD tests the Verbatim DataLife Plus 16x gave us back the same time in all burns (4:43). Since we had only one 24x certified media we did not try to compare it under real recording, but only in simulation (with JustSpeed activated), which by our suprise gave us a higher time. (!)

- Overburning Tests:
We used 90min CDs (from Medea International) and 99min CDs (from Disc4You) in order to check the drive's ability to overburn. With the CD Speed 99 overburn test we got that drive can burn up to 99mins:

90min

99min

MP7200A

92:01:09

99:00:52

Afterwards we used Nero and confirmed the above results. We managed to burn up to 99minutes of AudioCD tracks with MP7200A!

This is the first high speed recorder that supports such high recording capacities.

- AudioCD Tests
We created several Audio CDs (including CD-Text). All of the CDs we created, were tested with the Plextor PX-40TS and Plextor's CD-Text compatible CD player. From what we saw, everything worked just fine. Note that the Ricoh MP7200A CANNOT read the "CD-Text" information from CD-Text enabled Audio CDs.

- CloneCD Tests:
The Ricoh MP7200A supports DAO-RAW writing according to the CloneCD v3.0.1.1. The drive also supports "SAO-RAW" mode and simulation mode :). The CloneCD supports fully the 20x writing speed so you only have to select or just put the "max" setting...

We tried to backup protected CDs using various CD protections and our tests for "SafeDisc 1", "LaserLock" and "SecuROM 2" had completed with success.

- SD2 report:
For the SD2 tests we used the "No One Lives For Ever" CD title. We used the Ricoh MP7200A both as reader/writer. The results were ,as expected, the same we had with the previous Ricoh drives negative...:

Worked
Didn't worked
-

Plextor PX-40TS
Sanyo CRD-BP4
Yamaha 2100E
Ricoh MP7200A
PleXWriter PX-W1610A
Sanyo CRD-BP1400P
Pioneer DVD-U05S
Sanyo CRD-BP1500P

The above test shows that the Ricoh MP7200A cannot produce SD2 working backups CDs...

- Buffer Underrun tests:
The Ricoh MP7200A supports the "JustLink" anti-coaster technology for making buffer Underrun error-free CDs. The gap length of JustLink is 2-5micro meters, which may seem high since the second generation of the "BURN-Proof" technology has 0-gap length. The drive worked fine even under heavy pressure from our side (100% CPU Usage).

- Verdict of CDR Results:
The Ricoh MP7200A is the first retail recorder which supports 20x Zone-CLV writing speed. The drive's overall performance was very good with the various CDR media and for enjoying the drive's full speed, probably you will need 20x/24x certified CDs. The drive's recording times are 50secs faster than the 16x CLV writing speed and slower 30secs than 24x Zone-CLV. Last Ricoh MP7200A has the biggest Overburning feature among the tested drives since it can write up to 99minutes!


7. RW Writing Tests

Ricoh MP7200A IDE CDR-W - Page 7

RW Writing Tests

We used Nero 5.5.1.8 for writing CDs in maximum RW writing speed for all the tested drives in 10x HS-RW media. All drive support fully the HS-RW writing standard, except from Yamaha 2100E which supports only 8x re-writing:

The Ricoh MP7200A gave back again the lower recording time (485) among the 4 tested drives, making it a very good performer. In addition, the drive's quick erase time is the lower among the contesters (51secs). The rest drives are simply slower...

- Packet Writing Tests

We used Ahead InCD v2.11 for all Packet Writing tests. We used Ricoh HS RW media and we formatted it. The formatting of the media takes around 10min. After formatting, we tested all four drives for their packet writing performance.

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:

The results show that the Ricoh MP7200A is without any doubt the king of the re-writing performance. The drive gave back the best writing/reading performance! That is very good news for people who are using packet writing in their daily tasks.


8. Conclusion

Ricoh MP7200A IDE CDR-W - Page 8

Conclusion

Positive (+)

Negative (-)

- First recorder that supports 20x writing speed!
- "Just-Link" anti-coaster technology
- "Just-Speed" quality protection system
- Best DATA reading performance with CDs/HS-RW media around!
- Good DAE ripping performance (with CDR media)
- Best reading/writing packet writing performance around!
- Supports HS-RW standard (10x re-write)
- Supports DAO-RAW
- Supports reading of SubChannel data (VERY FAST!)
- Supports CD-Text (only writing)
- Supports Overburning (writes up to 99mins!!)
- Supports Ultra-DMA 33 connection interface
- Good retail package (contains Nero 5.5)

- Bad DAE performance with pressed audio CDs
- Problems with dusted/scratched CDR media
- Bad CloneCD reading performance (with SafeDisc 1/2 protected CDs)
- Failed to backup SD2 protected CDs

Ricoh is the first manufacturer that ships an ultra high-speed recorder in the market: MP7200A. The drive supports 20x Z-CLV writing speed, 10x re-writing and 40x reading. The drive's overall performance was very good and in many tests got the first place among the best selling recorders. Ricoh has added "Just-Speed" quality protection system in the MP7200A ,protecting users from bad media, and support for writing fully 99minutes CDs!

The possible buyer must know that he will need 20x/24x certified CDs in order fully enjoy the Ricoh MP7200A's 20x writing speed. There is a problem however, since even Ricoh will not be able to supply you with such media until middle of May. The price of the drive is estimated in Japan around 230-240$ and in Europe around 300 Euro (267$).

The big advantage of Ricoh MP7200A is the "shipping time", since the drive is already out in the stores...Yamaha's 20x writer will come out in few weeks and as for the 24x retail drives we will have to wait until the first days of July.



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