Magazine article Newsweek

One Drive That Fits All: Now You Can Watch DVD Movies and Record CD-ROMs Using Just One Inexpensive Disk Drive

Magazine article Newsweek

One Drive That Fits All: Now You Can Watch DVD Movies and Record CD-ROMs Using Just One Inexpensive Disk Drive

Article excerpt

If you've been putting off buying a recordable CD-ROM drive, remember the immutable First Law of Hard Disks: no matter how capacious it seems the day you buy it, you will fill it to the brim. Back in the '80s, hard disks of 10 or 20 megabytes seemed massive; in the mid '90s, everyone was certain that one gigabyte would be enough. Today's personal computers often come with 20 or more megabytes of disk space, and it's a good thing, because digital photo albums, Napster-bootlegged MP3 collections and QuickTime trailers for Hollywood's summer blockbusters have got everyone's storage space bursting at the seams.

Enter the recordable CD-ROM drive. With capacities of 750 megabytes, the discs can hold about 520 times as much data as a floppy disk. But file size inflation isn't the only reason to consider a recordable CD-ROM drive. The newest models are not only inexpensive but have incorporated multiple features, like DVD playback. We looked at a pair of three-in-one drives: the Ricoh MP9060A and the Toshiba SD-R1002, which combine CD Write-Once (CD-R), CD-Rewriteable (CD-RW) and DVD-ROM functionality in the same unit. The Ricoh drive has already dropped from $399 to $299, while Toshiba's costs $289, though enterprising folks can probably find one for about $250 on the Internet.

The installation process is straightforward for anyone who's comfortable poking inside a PC. My sisters have been asking me for some new tunes, so as soon as I got the drives installed, I fired up RealJukebox's music-management software, put together a custom mix of 16 MP3s ranging from Lil' Kim and Ghostface Killah to Metallica and Limp Bizkit, and then easily mastered it to a disk that could be played in any CD player or PC. …

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