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Appeared on: Friday, November 22, 2002
AOpen EHW4048U CD-RW


1. Installation/Package

AOpen EHW-4048U CD-RW - Page 1

- Introduction

Many manufacturers ship external drives mostly based at USB2.0 connection interface, since it offers increased portability among with easy installation. The EHW-4048U is a fast drive from AOpen that includes all the features that competition offers (40X writing, 12X re-writing, 48X reading) in a very attractive price. We compare it with other USB2.0 solutions in order to test whether the AOpen drive can stand the tough competition.

- Specifications

The AOpen CRW4048U uses the Z-CLV recording technology and the CAV for reading. The drive's features according to Nero Info Tool are the following:

The drive supports 48X maximum reading, 40X writing and 12X rewriting speeds. JustLink and JustSpeed technologies are present to prevent any buffer underrun problems and ensure the burning quality. The cache buffer is 2MB and reading of CD-Text and CD+G is also supported. Nero Info Tool reports that C2 error information is also retrieved by the drive but its accuracy will be examined later. Lastly the Mt. Rainier is not present, and probably won't be adopted with any future firmware upgrade.

As with previous AOpen drives, the default read speed is set to 40x. Pressing the Eject button for 5 sec will change the maximum read speed to 48X. At that time the operation LED will brink 2 times slowly. The drive will keep working at 48X until you reboot your computer. Below is the Nero Info Tool screenshot with the "Turbo" mode enabled. The drive's maximum speed is 48X:

- Recording/Rewriting speeds

The AOpen CRW4048U supports 40X with the use of Z-CLV recording technology. Below it's the Nero CD Speed writing graph that illustrates the use of Zone-CLV:

The 40x writing speed range is divided in 5 zones: The drive starts writing at 16X from the lead-in area till 4mins, shifts up to 20X at 5mins, accelerates 24X at 14mins, shifts up again to 32X at 32mins and lastly shifts to 40X at 56mins and stays there until the end. The average recording speed is 29.61X, as Nero CD Speed reports. The drive's Zone-CLV implementation gives slower average writing speed than some other 40X recorders.

- The package

We got the European retail version that includes: the drive, 40X CD-R media, 12X HS-RW media, a DC adapter and a USB2.0/1.1 cable. 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 for less than $100.

Looking at the front panel, we can see the "JustLink/JustSpeed", "HS-RW", "AOpen" and "40X/12X/48X" logos printed on the tray. The external case of the drive is colored to white, but the front panel is light blue. The eject/next buttons, volume selector, and the headphone jack are also present, as usual in the E-IDE models.

The operation 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 we will find the DC-in power connector, the Power ON/OFF switch, the Audio out jack and the USB2.0/1.1 connection interface.

On the top of the drive we can see the model's codename "EHW-4048U" among with the manufacturing date (July 2002):

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

Click To Enlarge!

The drive is built on RICOH and ESMT chipsets. The board design is similar to the CRW4850, making overclocking a possibility:

- Installation

The AOpen CRW4048U was connected through the bundled USB2.0 cable. The drive was recognized as "AOPEN CD-RW CRW4048". 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 (40X) with all the inserted CD-R media. The drive came with v1.03 firmware revision installed, but we used the newest v1.07 to complete the tests.


2. Data Reading Tests
AOpen EHW-4048U CD-RW - Page 2

Data Tests

- Pressed CD results: (Click to see the CD Speed Graph for 40X and 48X)

At the 40X (default) reading speed, the EHW-4048U drive is not the faster among the competitor drives since it gave only a 31.0X average reading speed. However under the 'Turbo' mode it superpasses the competition giving an impressive 37.43X average reading speed.

The seek times of the AOpen EHW-4048U are very close to each other either when the drive is set to 40X or to the 48X speed. The only difference can be seen at the Full Stroke test. The faster drive comes from WAITEC with 87ms for the random and 161ms for the full stroke.

- CDR Media: (Click to see the CD Speed Graph for 40X and 48X)

With CD-R media, the EHW-4048U gets again the first place with an 37.64X average reading speed ('Turbo' mode). The seek times are also very good but the FRISBY II is faster...

- RW media: (Click to see the CD Speed Graph for 40X and 48X)

Again the 'Turbo' mode makes the difference and the EHW-4048U comes first with a 38.21X average reading speed. What is very impressive is that the drive reaches 50.74X at the end of the disc.


3. CloneCD Reading Tests
AOpen EHW-4048U CD-RW - Page 3

Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we examine the reading error correction capabilities of AOpen EHW-4048U.

- EAC CD-R Test Disc

- Test Results (Max Reading)

Errors total
Num: 26320
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 8649
Avg:-83.6 dB(A)
Max: -13.0 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 122
Avg:1.7 Samples
Max: 5 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0 Samples
Max:0 Samples
Total Test Result
81.2 points (of 100.0 maximum)

Despite the fact that the drive did not corrected 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 -83.6dB(A). The drive also didn't skip any samples resulting to an overall score of 81.2 out of 100 (perfect), which is quite good.

- ABEX TCD-721R

- Test Results (Max speed)

Errors total
Num: 75364191
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 391474
Avg:-28.5 dB(A)
Max: -1.6 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 199092
Avg: 19.8 Samples
Max: 3584 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 2
Avg: 2939.0 Samples
Max: 2939 Samples
Total Test Result
51.2 points (of 100.0 maximum)

The ABEX 721R test disc is very hard to read for almost all the drives. The AOpen EHW-4048U showed a bad behavior since it started reporting errors before the artificially defected area begin. The error spikes reached -1.6 dB(a) in several areas and many skipped samples occurred. The performance is low (51.2 points).

- ABEX TCD-726

- Test Results (Max Speed)

Errors total
Num: 140018342
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 654784
Avg:-23.7 dB(A)
Max: -5.5 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 288703
Avg: 4.0 Samples
Max: 3584
Skips Samples
Num: 1
Avg: 409 Samples
Max: 409 Samples
Total Test Result
57.4 points (of 100.0 maximum)

The AOpen drive didn't perform well, giving many errors especially by the end of the process and got a 57.4 score.

- Conclusion

Test Disc
Reading Speed
AOpen EHW-4048U
EAC CD-R
Max
81.2
ABEX TCD-721R
Max
51.2
ABEX TCD-726
Max
57.4
Average Score
63.26

The AOpen EHW-4048U got a less than medium overall score of 63.26.

- C2 Information accuracy

- Test Results (MAX Speed)

The C2 accuracy of the AOpen EHW-4048U is very low according to the CDSpeed. The drive got an 38.31% score. The quality is also very low due to high number of sync errors. The EAC analyzer 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
Score
EAC CD-R
Max
66.9
ABEX TCD-721R
Max
51.6
ABEX TCD-726
Max
50.0
Average Score
67.0


4. CD Error Correction Tests

AOpen EHW-4048U 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 EHW-4048U needed 209secs to finish the task, much slower than the performance of the PX-W4012U, which gave the best performance.

- SafeDisc v.2 Results

The AOpen EHW-4048U was very slow with the SafeDisc 2 discs. The main reason is that the drive locked at the 4X reading speed after it skipped all the bad sectors. Note that when we used another software, like Alcohol 120%, the same task was performed at almost full speed giving of course a much lower reading time. The faster drive in this test comes from YAMAHA.

- LaserLock v.2 Results

The AOpen EHW-4048U performed better with the original LaserLock v.2 disc and got the first place, but was slower with the backup disc.

- SecuROM v.2 Results

All drives can read SubChannel data from Data/Audio tracks. The faster drive comes from YAMAHA with 2217.85Kb/s. The AOpen EHW-4048U gets the third place with 1685.13Kb/s.


5. DAE Tests

AOpen EHW-4048U CD-RW - Page 5

DAE Tests

- DAE features

- Pressed AudioCD

The AOpen drive got the first place with 33.8X. At the default reading speed, the DAE performance was good with 29.3X, while the CRW-F1DX gets the second place with 30.7X

- Audio CD-R media

With CD-R media, the EHW-4048U had a low performance of 20.4X when it read at the default speed, but under the 'Turbo' mode it got the first place with 33.6X average reading speed.

- 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)
Pressed
CDR
AOpen EHW-4048U
21.4
21.5

- Advanced DAE test

All the drives got a "100" score. The DAE speed for the AOpen drive under the 'Turbo' mode is 35.12X. The drive can read CD-Text and Subchannel data as the Advanced DAE test reports.

- 40X reading speed

- 48X 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
Errors Of Total Disc (%)
AOpen CRW5224
8.3
19809978
2.62

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 drive locked its reading speed at 8.3X and ended the test with a low error rate (2.62%).

- Ripping 90 and 99mins AudioCDs

 
Tested drives
Ripping up to
AOpen CRW4048U
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)

Key2Audio
CDS200
EAC
AOpen EHW-4048U
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 EHW-4048U was able to rip CDS200 but not Key2Audio protected Audio discs...


6. CDR Tests

AOpen EHW-4048U CD-RW - Page 6

CDR Tests

The AOpen CRW4850 supports 8X, 12X, 16X (CLV), 20X, 24X, 32X and 40X (Z-CLV) writing speeds. When JustSpeed is activated and the inserted media is not supported for writing at the maximum speed, the drive lowers 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 AOpen EHW-4048U finished last with 211secs, while the WAITEC FRISBYII was the fastest drive with 183secs. That is a 28secs difference. The YAMAHA CRW-F1DX came second with 187secs and the PleXWriter PX-W4012U third with 198secs. 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 at 40X. However, in many cases we tried to write above 12X under DAO-RAW mode we always had a coaster. 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
Settings
Amplify Weak Sectors On
Amplify Weak Sectors Off
Max Payne v1.05
Creative 52X
CD-ROM
v.2.50.020
No
TEAC 40X
CD-ROM
BTC DV316
DVD-ROM
Serious Sam - The Second Encounter v1.07
Creative 52X
CD-ROM
v.2.60.052
No
TEAC 40X
CD-ROM
BTC DV316
DVD-ROM
The Sims - Unleashed
Creative 52X
CD-ROM
v2.80.010
No
TEAC 40X
CD-ROM
BTC DV316
DVD-ROM

The AOpen EHW-4048U 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 EHW-4048 CD-RW - Page 7

Writing Quality Tests

We used various media and burn them at the maximum writing speed of 40X, with JustSpeed On/Off. The writing quality scores are in the following table:

Brand
JustSpeed Status
C1 Errors
Average Burning Time (mins)
Comments
Max
Average
Prodisc 80min 40X
On
36
1.20
3:31
Off
22
1.7
3:46
SKC 80min 16X
On
35
3.9
3:33
Off
18
1.8
3:34
Mitsubishi Chemicals
80min 48X
On
Write Error when JustSpeed enabled
Off
65
2.4
3:31
Ciba Plasmon 80min 48X
On
29
2.1
4:04
Disc Burned at 24X
Octron 80min 24X
On
64
7.8
3:35
Off
44
4.7
3:34

The writing quality of AOpen EHW-4048U was average. The drive doesn't seem to like Mitsubishi Chemicals media when JustSpeed is enabled and the number of C1 errors is high with the Octron (Ritek based) 24X media either with JustSpeed enabled/disabled.

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

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

Name
Real Manufacturer
ID Code
Capacity
Mitsubishi Chemicals 80min 48x
Mitsubishi Chemicals
97m34s23f
79:59.73
Prodisc 80min 40x
Prodisc
97m32s19f
79:59.74
Octron 80min 24x
Ritek
97m15s17f
79:59.73
Mitsubishi Chemicals 80min 40x
Mitsubishi Chemicals
97m34s23f
79:59.74
Ciba Plasmon 80min 48X
Plasmon
97m27s18f
79:59.74


8. RW/Packet Writing Tests

AOpen EHW-4048 CD-RW - Page 8

RW Writing Tests

With HS-RW media, the drive supports the 4X, 10X and 12X CLV re-writing speeds. 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 YAMAHA with 226secs, due to its 24X US-RW writing speed. The rest of the drives support the 12X maximum re-writing speed. The faster drive comes from Plextor with 398secs. The AOpen drive gets the last place 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 shares the second place with FRISBYII. However, the drive cannot compete the 24X re-writer from YAMAHA. At the reading part, the AOpen drive gets the first place with 20.27X


9. Conclusion

AOpen EHW-4048U CD-RW - Page 9

Conclusion

Positive (+)

Negative (-)

- Supports USB2.0 interface
- Supports "JustLink" and "JustSpeed" technologies
- Under 'Turbo' mode, the drive gets the first place in the data/DAE reading tests
- 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)
- Retail package contains Nero, 40X CD-R, 12X US-RW media at low price of <$100

- Drive is slower at all recording speed due to its Z-CLV implementation
- Low CD Error correction capabilities
- Doesn't support the Mt. Rainier format
- Cannot backup protected discs!
- Low CloneCD reading performance
- Writing at DAO-RAW above 12X produces coasters
- C2 error information is present but with low accuracy
- Cannot rip Key2Audio protected Audio discs
- Noisy operation under the 'Turbo' mode

The EHW-4048U is not the fastest AOpen recorder but has some good features for entry-level users. The USB2.0 interface is now a standard and the drive's reading performance was good especially under the 'Turbo' mode. AOpen and many other manufacturers support the 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.

The drive is able to read/write up to 99min discs, can read/write CD-Text, rips CDS200 protected Audio discs and produces discs with average writing quality. On the negative side, the drive's writing times are higher compared with other recorders, its error correction capabilities are low, it doesn't support the Mt. Rainier format, fails to backup protected discs, cannot rip Key2Audio protected discs and although the C2 error information is present, the % accuracy is low.

The EHW-4048U can be found under $100 making it a cheap recorder for the amateur user. Of course the competitor USB2.0 drives are higher priced but also offer a more higher performance...



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