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Home > Hardware Reviews > Optical Storage > Combo

Monday, February 18, 2002
Ricoh MP9120A CD-RW

1. Introduction

Ricoh MP9120A IDE CDR-W - Page 1

Ricoh is the second company to introduce anti-coaster technology for CDR-W drives after Sanyo's BURN-Proof technology. Ricoh's proposal comes under the interesting name "JustLink", which promises to eliminate coasters caused from buffer under-runs and improves the recording quality over BURN-Proof technology. The Ricoh MP9120A is the first model to ever implement "JustLink" technology. But this isn't the only strong point of Ricoh MP9120A. The 8x DVD-Rom reading speed added to the MP9120A model, is a very attractive feature and makes combo drives (CDR-W+DVD-ROM) an interesting proposal for users. Let us now see what is the so-called "JustLink"!

"..JustLink effectively performs when writing data directly from CD-ROM, writing data at high speed and when other operations are being performed during writing. JustLink also makes trouble-free data writing via network possible. The link section from Ricoh JustLink, being extrermely small at less than 2 µm, doesn't affect reading quality. This is actually why this technology has been called 'JustLink' which has the scope and flexibility to cope with whatever writing speed..."

How it works?

Just Link works on the following principle:

- The amount data accumulated in the buffer memory is always monitored during writing.
- If, for some reason, the data transfer speed from the computer falls below the writing speed, the amount of data accumulated in the buffer memory falls.
- When the amount of data in the buffer memory falls below a certain level, and the possibility of a buffer underrun error is predicted if writing continues, writing is intentionally suspended for the time being.
- During the time that writing is suspended, data transferred from the computer accumulates in the buffer memory.
- When enough data has accumulated, writing is resumed from the point directly after the point where it was suspended, and monitoring of the amount of data in the buffer memory is recommenced.

What is the best anti-coaster technology..BURN-Proof or JustLink?

Both technologies are very similar and their main difference is the gap length. The first generation of BURN-Proof enabled drives had 40 µm gap length.

On the other hand "JustLink" has much lower gap length ,below 2µm:

Sanyo reacted soon and released an improved BURN-Proof technology, which lowered the gap length to 2-5µm. As you can figure out "JustLink" seems still better in absolute technical terms. The truth is that as long as the length gap stays below 100µm, from the last successful sector to the new sector, there won't be any noticeable fault to the user or won't affect the data at all. You can read more about "JustLink" at Ricoh Europe.

Supplied Package:
The package supplied was the retail Europe version. This included: The drive itself, a set-up guide, 1 blank CD-R, 1 blank High Speed RW, audio cables and mounting screws. The software supplied with the MP9120A was Nero, Ahead's InCD v1.66 and WinDVD 2000 v2.3 for DVD playback and a region changer selector.

We used the latest Nero version for most of the tests along with Prassi abCD (packet writing). In the process of the tests we found a small bug with Nero and MP9120A. After contacting Ahead we were supplied with a reg patch which solved the problem. In addition, there is a small issue with PadusDJ v3.00.750, which supports the drive but not the "JustLink" technology. However you can activate the "JustLink" simple by adding the following 2 lines in the PFC.INI file:

FlagsWrite = 20000000h


ATAPI CDR-W drives are simple to install. Just decide what the drive should be (master or slave), set the appropriate jumper and start! After booting, the CDR-W identified itself as "Ricoh DVD/CDRW MP9120A". We unchecked the Auto Insert notification, checked DMA and rebooted. The drive was an August 2000 model with firmware revision v1.20.

Test Machine:
WinMe OS
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
PlexWriter PX-W1210A firmware v1.07 (TLA#000)
PlexWriter PX-W1210S firmware v1.00 (TLA#000)
Ricoh MP7120A firmware v1.20
Ricoh MP9120A firmware v1.20

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