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Home > Hardware Reviews > Optical Storage > 12x CD-RW

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

1. Portable storage at its maximum!

TEAC CD-RW280PU vs. Plextor PX-S88TU - Page 1

Portable storage at its maximum!

- Introduction:

is something that many users and manufacturers have been waiting as a solution to the needs for a fast peripheral connection for personal computers. After the announcement of the USB 2.0, it was certain that many manufacturers would take advantage of the increased BUS speed, and would ship new models. TEAC was the first company to announce an external USB 2.0 recorder back in July of 2001 with the codename CD-RW280PU. Recently Plextor also introduced the PX-S88TU with the exact same specifications (8/8/24) as the TEAC drive. As it seems, the race for the best USB 2.0 external writer has just begun. Which of the two is worthy of this title? Is USB 2.0 a real solution for external recorders? Let's find out!

- What is USB Hi-Speed?

USB Hi-Speed is another name for USB 2.0. The official USB Promoter Group didn’t want the new USB 2.0 specification to be regarded as a completely new standard, which would confuse consumers. Therefore, USB 2.0 was named as USB Hi-Speed, and USB 1.1 got a new title as USB Basic Speed. The specification was released on April 2000. USB 2.0 was developed because of the needs for increased speed, much more than USB 1.1. USB 2.0 has a raw data rate at 480Mbps, and it is rated 40 times faster than its predecessor interface, USB 1.1, which tops at 12Mbps. With that increased speed, users can enjoy faster CD-RW drives than 4x writing, which was the limit for USB 1.1 hardware. :-)

USB 2.0 is backwards compatible, which means you can connect all previous USB devices to the new USB 2.0 interface. The maximum length of a USB 2.0 cable is 5m, which makes it an ideal solution for external portable recorders!

- USB 2.0 hardware:

Most current M/B only support the USB 1.1. In order to be able to test both TEAC and Plextor USB 2.0 writers, we used Adaptec's USB2connect 3100LP PCI card. The USB2connect 3100LP is a USB 2.0 host adapter for PCs and Macs that provides connectivity to USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 devices. "USB 2.0" is the fastest USB standard - capable of transferring data at up to 480Mbit/sec while maintaining backward-compatibility with current USB 1.1 devices.

The card has three external ports and one internal port for connecting USB 1.1/2.0 devices. The original retail package didn't include any drivers. Of course you could install the card but it would only work with USB 1.1 devices. Both WinME and Win2k don't support the USB 2.0 protocol. WinXP has native support.

The Adaptec USB2Connect PCI card!Adaptec finally released the long awaited USB 2.0 drivers in August of 2001 and therefore we were able to start our tests. The USB2connect also has a 10-foot (3m) USB 2.0 cable, 5 years of warranty and costs around $65. We did notice some problems with Abit KT7 Raid M/B and with the Adaptec's USB v1.0 drivers, blue screen :( , but it worked smoothly with Intel based PCs. Maybe a future driver revision will correct these problems.

- PC Setup:

Intel P3 866@950
QDI Synactix 2EP
Adaptec 3100LP USB 2.0 card
Adaptec's USB 2.0 v1.0 drivers
TEAC CD-R/W 280PU firmware v1.1A
PleXWriter PX-S88TU firmware v1.02 #TLA 102

- The TEAC package:
TEAC provided the CD-RW280PU, which is based on the internal slim-line ATAPI CD-W28E model. We got a bare drive along with the necessary USB 2.0 cable and an audio cable. The 280PU model is sold ONLY in Japan for now, making its buy a very difficult one for the rest of the world. TEAC said that maybe in the future the CD-RW280PU would start selling itself in other countries if the user demands are high.

The Japanese retail package (left picture) includes: The drive itself, a manual, a registration card, a USB 2.0 cable and an AC adapter. The attached software is Bs Recorder GOLD/Clip,"Virtual CD" utility and USB 2.0 drivers for Win98SE. The drive's estimated retail price is 29800Yen ($245).

The drive has 2 basic colours (metallic grey and electric blue), which give the drive an exotic look and feel. Its exact dimensions are 138x23x180mm (WxHxD) and it weights 450g. At the front of the drive you will find the eject button, a led - shows drive's operation reading/writing status - and the emergency eject hole. At the top of the drive you will find "TEAC" and "High Speed RW" logos among with the power led indicator:

TEAC CD-W280PU LookTEAC CD-W280PU Bottom

On the back of the drive there is the USB 2.0 connector, the power connector (always on, auto), the power supply jack and last the audio line-out:


The drive is based upon the internal CD-W28E and has the exact same specifications: 8x writing, 8x re-writing and 24x reading, 2MB Buffer, JustLink, USB 2.0/1.1 compatible. When the drive is connected via a USB 1.1 interface its writing/reading capabilities are limited to 4x writing, 4x re-writing and 6x reading. The drive does support both 12cm and 8cm CDs and has 110ms access time according to the specifications.

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