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Home > Hardware Reviews > Optical Storage > 32x CD-RW

Monday, December 24, 2001
32x CD-RW Roundup Vol1

2. Installation

32x CD-RW Roundup Vol 1 - Page 2

- Freecom 32A

The drive supports 32x writing (Z-CLV), 10x re-writing, 4MB Buffer and "BurnProof" as the main anti-buffer underrun technology. The maximum reading speed of the drive is 40x (CAV). The exact writing speeds are 4x, 8x, 12, 16x, 20x (CLV) and 32x (20x-32x). The re-writing speeds are 4x, 8x and 10x. The drive doesn't support Mt. Rainier format. The drive includes a C2 error reporting and supports all known writing modes (DAO, SAO, TAO and RAW). Note that with the initial firmware revision this is done at only 16x (CLV) speed.

The drive also supports "FlexSS-BP" which is the generic name for "Flexible Speed" and "Flexible Strategy". The "FlexSS-BP" works in 2 ways. When the drive judges that it can hardly trace the inserted disc correctly -because a variation of media might include some serpentine tracks and off centred discs- and that the placed disc cannot stand a high power laser at high-speed recording, the drive selects the suitable recording speed for the disc and continues the recording. Thus it monitors the physical condition of the disc in real time during recording, and it flexibly switches recording speeds in order to maintain the optimum recording condition. In addition, the Flexible Strategy measures and evaluates the recording condition of a recorded area at switching zones. Previously, the recording condition could not be checked until the recording had been completed, but a Flexible Strategy drive can restart the recording after the check of pit condition at the recording stop position and optimise the recording parameters.

- Freecom's 32x writing speed

The Freecom 32A supports 32x writing speed with the use of the Z-CLV writing technology. Below it's the Nero CD Speed writing graph that illustrates the use of Zone-CLV writing technology:

The 32x writing speed range is divided in 3 zones: The drive starts writing at 20x from the lead-in area till 12mins, shifts up to 24x at 16mins and lastly shifts to 32x at 40mins and stays there until the end. The average recording speed is 26.86X, which makes it the faster 32x recorder. Despite the use of FlexSS-BP, the drive keeps the shifting points same in all cases. That means, that even low quality media can be written up to 32x but with a major cost. The readability of the written disc.

As our tests showed the FleSS-BP probably is not working correctly (or at all) since we had C2 errors at the last minutes of each disc, especially at the 20x (CLV) writing speed. That was noticed in almost all media (even with Taiyo Yuden 24x certified). Similar problems were also noticed at the 32x writing speed, which made us worried about the writing credibility of the drive. We hope that a newer firmware revision will fix this...

- The package

The package supplied was an "early" retail European version. This included: the drive itself, an installation guide, a warranty registration form, IDE cable, audio cable, a CD-R pen, 1 piece of Freecom 80min CD-R blank (actual manufacturer Ritek) and mounting screws. The software supplied with the drive was Ez CD Creator v5.1/DirectCD v5.1 and a diskette with updated drivers. There is an additional CD with manuals for both Windows/MAC OS operating systems. The drive has 2 years of warranty (only in Europe). The drive's price is estimated to be 175 Euro plus Tax.

The front panel of the drive includes 2 leds (busy, write), the manual eject hole, the headphone jack/volume control and the logos of "Freecom", "BPRec" and the "High-Speed Recording":

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 the analog / digital output connectors. There are 3 jumpers at the left of the back. The 2 jumpers on the left are not used (factory reserved), and the third is being used for making the drive working at UDMA33 mode. If you remove the third jumper, the drive works at PIO-Mode4 mode -suggested only for any major in-compatibility:

- Installation

The Freecom 32A was installed as a Master/Slave in the secondary IDE Bus. The drive worked in UDMA33 mode with the default jumper setting and after booting, identified itself as a "Generic Freecom32A".

We used only WinME for our recording/reading tests since under WinXP it was impossible to force DMA for the drive. We don't know if this major problem has anything to do with the Via's BustMaster drivers (4.37 installed) or firmware needs upgrade to support WinXP.

The drive was a December 2001 model with firmware revision v2.40 installed. We used Nero (5.5.7.0), DirectCD (5.1), CloneCD (3.3.2.1) and Padus DJ (3.50.826) for the recording tests.




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