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Appeared on: Tuesday, November 19, 2002
AOpen CRW4850 CD-RW

1. Introduction/Installation

AOpen CRW4850 IDE CD-RW - Page 1

- Introduction

The CRW4850 is the fastest AOpen recorder that is currently in the market. We have already (pre)-viewed the CRW5224 that will hit the market soon. The CRW4850 has been around for quite sometime and supports for the first time the CAV recording technology. We compare it with other 48X recorders using the latest firmware and the results are expected to be interesting...

- Specifications

The AOpen CRW4850 supports CAV recording technology for reading/re-writing and recording. The drive's features as Nero Info Tool reports are:

The drive supports 50X maximum reading / 48X writing and 12X re-writing speeds. JustLink and JustSpeed technologies are present to prevent the buffer underrun problems and ensure the burning quality. The cache buffer is 2MB and reading of CD-Text and CD+G is supported. Nero Info Tool reports that C2 error information is also supported but its accuracy will be examined later. Lastly the Mt. Rainier is not present, and probably won't be adopted with any future firmware upgrades...

The following pictures show the drive's supported reading/writing speeds:

As with previous AOpen drives, the default read speed is 40x. Pressing the Eject button for 5 sec will change the maximum read speed to 50X. At that time the operation LED will brink 2 times slowly. The drive will keep working at 50X until you reboot your computer.

Below is the Nero Info Tool screenshot with the "Turbo" mode enabled. The drive's maximum speed is 50X:

- Recording/Re-writing speeds

The AOpen CRW4850 supports 48X with the use of CAV recording technology. Almost all manufacturers, except from TEAC, utilise the CAV technology for the 48X recorders. As Nero CD Speed revealed, the drive starts writing at 21.28X and gradually accelerates ending at the 47.87X speed, giving an average of 36.30X.

When using other CD-R media, the JustSpeed function determines to drop the recording speed down to 40X. In this mode, the drive uses P-CAV and now the average writing speed is 31.36X:

- The package

We got the European retail version that includes: the drive, 48X CD-R media, 12X HS-RW media, mounting screws, and IDE/Audio cables. The attached software comes from Ahead (Nero Burning Rom, InCD). A printed manual in two languages that explains the basic installation and working facts is also bundled.

The drive has been around for a while and can be found in a low price of less than $60.

Looking at the front panel, we can see the "JustLink/JustSpeed", "HS-RW" and "AOpen" logos printed on the tray. The eject/next buttons, volume selector, and the headphone jack are also present, as usual in the E-IDE models.

The LED blinks differently according to the current operation of the drive. When you eject/close the disc tray or a disc is accessed, the LED lights to green. When a disc is just loaded and there is not any other operation, the light goes out. When audio playback is in progress, the indicator blinks. Inserting an illegal disc or when some hardware trouble has occurred makes the indicator blink quickly. Last, while writing a CD the led blinks to orange.

On the rear panel will find the power connector, the IDE cable connector; the jumpers for setting up the MASTER/SLAVE/CABLE select status and the analogue/SPDIF connectors. The three jumpers on the right are used to set the drive's ATA working mode setting. The drive is set to "DMA mode" by default; and you can set your drive to "UDMA" mode by removing the jumper.

On the top of the drive we can see the model's codename "CRW4850" among with the manufacturing date:

After removing the screws on the button we can easily see the drive's internal design (attention this voids your warranty!).

The drive is built on RICOH and ESMT chipsets. The board design is much different than the CRW5224, making overclocking impossible:

- Installation

The AOpen CRW4850 was installed as a Master in the primary IDE BUS. The drive worked in UDMA-33 mode. After booting, it identified itself as an "AOPEN CD-RW CRW4850". We used Nero v5.5.9.17, CloneCD v4.0.1.10 and Ahead InCD v3.51.61 for the recording tests. Within Nero, under drive properties you can disable "JustSpeed" to obtain the maximum burning speed (48X) with all the inserted CD-R media.

The drive came with v1.01 firmware revision installed, but we used the newer v1.02 and v1.04 to complete the tests and of course revise them. With the latest firmware there are still few problems with specific CD-R media that are explained in our "writing quality" page.

2. Data Reading Tests
AOpen CRW4850 IDE CD-RW - Page 2

Data Tests

- Pressed CD results: (Click to see the CD Speed Graph for 40X and 50X)

At the 40X (default) reading speed, the faster drive comes from Plextor, with 31.5X. The AOpen CRW4850 follows a little slower with 31.09X.

The seek times of the PX-W4824A are impressive with random seek times of 63ms. The AOpen and SONY drives have similar seek times of 84-88ms.

Under the 'Turbo' mode, the AOpen CRW4850 gets the first place with 37.62X. The other drives in the test cannot compete, due to the lower maximum supported reading speed (48X).

At the max speed, the AOpen CRW4850 has similar seek times as in the 40X reading speed. Again the PX-W4824A leads the race with 67ms.

- CDR Media: (Click to see the CD Speed Graph for 40X and 50X)

With CD-R media, the PX-W4824A gets the first place with 39.33X and AOpen CRW4850 follows with 31.19X.

The seek times with CD-R media seem slightly improved over the results with pressed discs...

Again under the 'Turbo' mode, the AOpen CRW4850 gets a clean lead with an average reading speed of 37.81X. The CyberDrive CW088D follows closely with 37.52X.

- RW media: (Click to see the CD Speed Graph for 40X and 50X)

Under the 'Turbo' mode the AOpen CRW4850 is the faster drive with 37.43X. The average reading speed would be higher if the drive had not dropped its speed when reading the outer limits of the HS-RW disc.

3. CD Error Correction
AOpen CRW4850 IDE CD-RW - Page 3

Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we examine the reading error correction capabilities of AOpen CRW4850.

- EAC CD-R Test Disc

- Test Results (Max Reading)

Errors total
Num: 29808
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 11505
Avg:-86.2 dB(A)
Max: -30.5 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 53
Avg:1.9 Samples
Max: 6 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0 Samples
Max:0 Samples
Total Test Result
81.6 points (of 100.0 maximum)

Despite the fact that the drive did not completely correct the data from neither the black triangle defect nor the five scratched areas, the amount of total errors is not very high and the average error level is only -86.2dB(A). The drive also didn't skip any samples resulting to an overall score of 81.6 out of 100 (perfect), which is quite good.


- Test Results (Max speed)

The ABEX 721R test disc is very hard to read for almost all the drives. The AOpen CRW4850 showed not a good behaviour since it reported errors before the artificially defected area begin. The error spikes reached -14.2 dB(a) in several areas, but no skipped samples occurred. The performance is average (75.3 points).

Errors total
Num: 1028225
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 62108
Avg:-74.9 dB(A)
Max: -14.2 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 5923
Avg: 2.0 Samples
Max: 84 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0 Samples
Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result
75.3 points (of 100.0 maximum)

- ABEX TCD-726

- Test Results (Max Speed)

The AOpen drive performed quite well, giving a few errors and got an 83.8 score.

Errors total
Num: 7609
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 2556
Avg:-89.8 dB(A)
Max: -47.7 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 37
Avg: 1.3 Samples
Max: 4
Skips Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0 Samples
Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result
83.8 points (of 100.0 maximum)

- Conclusion

Test Disc
Reading Speed
AOpen CRW4850
Average Score

The AOpen CRW4850 got an overall score of 80.23.

- C2 Information accuracy

- Test Results (MAX Speed)

The C2 accuracy of the AOpen CRW4850 was not good since the drive got an 85.20% score. On the other hand, the quality score was high (88.6 out of 100).

The EAC analyser software reported the following C2 %. The different results in C2% accuracy between the CDSpeed and EAC are due to different calculation method, but both tests indicate that the drive cannot be used safely for DAE when using C2 error information.

Test Disc
Reading Speed
AOpen CRW5224
Average Score

4. CloneCD Reading Tests

AOpen CRW 4850 IDE CD-RW - Page 4

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 times of the drive. 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 drive reading/writing features 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. The PX-W4824A is the faster drive with only 72secs. The AOpen CRW4850 gets the third place with 175secs.

- SafeDisc v.2 Results

All drives were slow with SafeDisc 2 discs. The faster drive was the PX-W4824A either with pressed or CD-R media. The AOpen CRW4850 performed very badly with CloneCD since the reading speed was locked at 4X after it extracted the bad sectors. Note that when using other software, like Alcohol 120%, the same task is performed at almost full speed (with the AOpen drive) giving of course a much lower reading time.

- LaserLock v.2 Results

The AOpen CRW4850 performed better with the original LaserLock 2 disc getting the first place, but not with the backup one...

- SecuROM v.2 Results

All drives can read SubChannel data from Data/Audio tracks. The faster drive comes from CyberDrive with 2624.18Kb/s. The AOpen CRW4850 gets the third place with 1998.65Kb/s.

5. DAE Tests

AOpen CRW4850 IDE CD-RW - Page 5

DAE Tests

- DAE features

- Pressed AudioCD

The CyberDrive CW-088D gets the first place with 34.9X. The SONY CRX-210E1 follows with 34.8X and the AOpen CRW4850 comes third with 34.3X average reading speed.

- Audio CD-R media

With CD-R media, the AOpen 4850 gets the first place with 34.5X.

- 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 built-in detection function:

Tested Drives
Average DAE Speed (X)
AOpen CRW4850

- Advanced DAE test

All the drives got a "100" score. The DAE speed for the AOpen drive under the 'Turbo' mode is 35.27X. The drive can read CD-Text and Subchannel data as the Advanced DAE test showed...

- 40X reading speed

- 50X reading speed

- Bad CDR Media results

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

Average Speed (X)
Errors Of Total Disc (%)
AOpen CRW4850

The condition of the disc can be considered as very bad, so the purpose of this test is not to get the best results with zero read errors, but to estimate the capabilities of the drive. The AOpen CRW4850 locked its reading speed at 8.3X and ended the test with a high error rate (12.72%), but it did manage to finish the task.

- Ripping 90 and 99mins AudioCDs

Tested drives
Ripping up to
AOpen CRW4850
Can read up to 99 minutes

- Reading/Ripping Protected AudioCDs

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

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

AOpen CRW4850
Recognizes the disc contents with TOC manually function but cannot rip!

Rips entire disc but under burst mode several tracks reported with errors

The AOpen CRW4850 was able to rip CDS200 but not Key2Audio protected Audio discs...

6. CDR Tests

AOpen CRW4850 IDE CD-RW - Page 6

CDR Tests

The AOpen CRW4850 supports 8X, 12X (CLV), 24X (CAV), 32X, 40X (P-CAV) and 48X (CAV) writing speeds.

When JustSpeed is activated and the inserted media is not supported for writing at the maximum speed, the drive will lower the maximum speed down to 24X. De-activating JustSpeed will enable writing at the maximum speed.

- Recording Tests

The amount of the data we burned was 704MB (80:01:26), for all the drives. The SONY CRX210E1 and CyberDrive CW088D finished the task first with the exact same result of 156secs (2:36mins). The AOpen CRW4850 gets the second place with 165secs (2:45mins), while the PX-W4824A is slower with 167secs (2:47mins).

The above graph shows the recording performance differences of the three tested drives in all the supported speeds. The results are the best we had for each speed. As we can see the AOpen CRW4850 was the slower drive in all-recording speeds. It only managed to get the second place at the maximum (48X) speed. The CyberDrive CW08DD is the faster drive at 16X and 48X speeds. The PX-W4824A comes first at 32X speed, while the SONY CRW-210E1 first at the 40X speed.

For the 24X writing speed, AOpen uses CAV recording technology (11-24X) making the drive very slow and slightly faster than a 16X CLV drive!

Below are the best recording time results we had:

- Overburning Tests

The AOpen drive can overburn up to 99 mins with the proper media. It is advised to keep the recording speed down to 8X or 12X with such media.

- CD-Text Results

The drive can read/write CD-Text without any problems.

- CloneCD Writing Tests

The CloneCD software reports that the drive supports the DAO-RAW feature. With the use of proper media, DAO-RAW writing can be performed up to 48X (CAV). However, in many cases we tried to write above 12X under DAO-RAW mode we had a coaster. This mainly happened with v1.01 and v1.02 firmware revisions.

The latest v1.04 doesn't seem to have this problem. This problem also may vary according to the inserted 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
Amplify Weak Sectors On
Amplify Weak Sectors Off
Max Payne v1.05
Creative 52X
Serious Sam - The Second Encounter v1.07
Creative 52X
The Sims - Unleashed
Creative 52X

The AOpen CRW4850 was disappointing when trying to backup protected discs. The AWS (Amplify Weak Sectors) didn't show any improvement and the produced discs did not play in any CD/DVD-ROM drives we tested...

7. Writing Quality Tests

AOpen CRW4850 IDE CD-RW - Page 7

Writing Quality Tests

We used various media and burn them at the maximum writing speed of 48X, with JustSpeed On/Off. The writing quality scores are in the following table:

JustSpeed Status
C1 Errors
Average Burning Time (mins)
Prodisc 80min 40X
SKC 80min 16X
Mitsubishi Chemicals
80min 48X
C2 errors disc un-readable
Ciba Plasmon 80min 48X
Plextor 80min 48X
Octron 80min 24X

The AOpen CRW4850 writing quality was average, compared with the PX-W4824A. The drive doesn't seem to perform well when JustSpeed is disabled and in some cases C2 errors occur, mainly with Mitsubishi Chemicals 48X media. The drive seems to like most the Prodisc 40X, Plextor 48X and the Octron (Ritek) 24Xmedia.

- C1/C2 Error rate from Prodisc 80min 40X @ 48X (JustSpeed On)

- C1/C2 Error rate from Prodisc 80min 40X @ 48X (JustSpeed Off)

We also noted some problems with specific media. The drive stopped burning when writing speed exceeded one specific limit as the following Nero CD speed screenshot shows:

- Imation 48X media

In the following table you can see the manufacturing details of the media we used for our tests.

Real Manufacturer
ID Code
Mitsubishi Chemicals 80min 48x
Mitsubishi Chemicals
Prodisc 80min 40x
Octron 80min 24x
Mitsubishi Chemicals 80min 40x
Mitsubishi Chemicals
Ciba Plasmon 80min 48X
Imation 80min 32X
CMC Mangetics
Plextor 80min 48X
Taiyo Yuden

8. HS-RW/Packet Writing Tests

AOpen CRW4850 IDE CD-RW - Page 8

RW Writing Tests

With HS-RW media, the AOpen CRW4850 supports 4X, 10X and 12X CLV re-writing speed. For the burning tests, we burned a full 74mins disc with all the drives. The results are showed in the following chart, for the maximum supported speed of each drive.

The faster re-writer comes from Plextor with 224secs. The drive gets the first place due to its 24X re-writing speed. The CyberDrive CW088D comes second with 308secs, the SONY CRX210E1 third with 401secs and the AOpen CRW4850 last with 408secs.

- Packet Writing Tests

We used Ahead InCD v3.51.61 for the packet writing tests. The formatted disc had 534 MB 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 more than once, to eliminate any possible time measurement faults and user errors.

The packet writing performance for the AOpen drive was good and gets the third place. However, the drive cannot compete 24X and 16X re-writers from Plextor and CyberDrive. At the reading part, the SONY drive gets the first place with 20.45X. The AOpen CRW4850 comes second with 20.27X.

9. Conclusion

AOpen CRW4850 IDE CD-RW - Page 9


Positive (+)

Negative (-)

- Supports 48X (CAV) writing speeds
- Supports "JustLink" and "JustSpeed" technologies
- Under 'Turbo' mode, gets the first place in data/DAE reading tests
- Good CD Error correction capabilities
- Average writing quality
- Good packet writing performance
- Can rip CDS200 protected Audio discs
- Supports reading/writing of SubChannel Data
- Supports CD-Text (reading/writing)
- Supports Overburning (up to 99mins)
- Supports UDMA33 connection interface
- Retail package contains Nero, 48X CD-R, 12X US-RW media at low price of <$60

- Drive is slower at all recording speed, except the maximum compared with other recorders
- Competition offers 24X US-RW re-writing speeds
- Doesn't support Mt. Rainier format
- Cannot backup protected discs!
- Low CloneCD reading performance
- C2 error information is present but not with high accuracy
- Cannot rip Key2Audio protected Audio discs
- Drive make noise under 'Turbo' mode

The CRW4850 is AOpen's proposal for the 48X recording speed. The CRW4850 has been around for quite sometime and the newest firmware has fixed some of the problems of the initial release. The drive supports 48X CAV recording technology, making it equally fast as competitive 48X recorders. In addition, it offers the 50X reading speed, under a 'turbo' mode. AOpen and many other manufacturers support 40X reading as the default reading speed to avoid noise and possible explosions of the inserted discs. The activation of 'Turbo' mode is easy and the drive will work at that speed unless you reboot the computer.

Let's now pass over the positives. The AOpen CRW4850 is a very fast drive under the 'Turbo' mode. Of course in such a high speed, the drive produces a lot of noise but that's the price of the max speed. The EAC results revealed good CD Error correction capabilities with some errors but with no skipped samples. The audiophiles will like the drive's ability to rip CDS200 protected Audio discs and the reading/writing of CD-Text. The writing quality seems average, compared with PX-W4824A and the overburning function up to 99mins is present.

On the negative side, the drive is slower in all the recording speeds with an exception in the maximum supported, it doesn't offer 24X re-writing speed and Mt. Rainier format, cannot backup protected discs, cannot rip Key2Audio protected discs and although the C2 error information is present, the % accuracy is low.

Concluding, the drive can be found under $60 making it a cheap recorder for the amateur user. Experienced users may look elsewhere to get the maximum performance...

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