Magazine article Online

CD-ROM Hardware Choices

Magazine article Online

CD-ROM Hardware Choices

Article excerpt

Once the decision to invest in CDROM technology has been made, it is time to go out and buy the hardware and software necessary to make the CD-ROM installation a success. There's more to getting into CD-ROM than just buying the disk you've been looking for. There are a variety of options when it comes to acquiring the hardware necessary to use CD-ROMs successfully, including turnkey systems, leased equipment, and outright purchase of components. The basic components of a CD-ROM system are: a personal computer (usually either IBM PC-compatible or Apple), and a CD-ROM optical disk drive, sometimes referred to as a player. Optional peripherals include printers, modems (to use with external databases to which some CD-ROM products allow access), high-resolution monitors, and audio interfaces. The world of personal computers is vast and well-documented in many periodicals and journals, including ONLINE (see the MAC MONITOR and Pc MONITOR columns). For this reason, I will focus this column about hardware choices on CD-ROM drives: the popular brands today, the recent changes in the market, and some acquisition options available today. CD-ROM DRIVES CD-ROM drives are classified as 'internal" or 'external." The internal drive, sometimes called "half-height," fits into a bay" in the microcomputer and requires installation of an interface card that lets the PC know that the drive has been installed. Typically, a caddy, or cartridge into which a disk is placed, is used with an internal drive, although an increasing number of external drives use caddies. When using a caddy, the disk is placed in a case that looks very much like the "jewel-case" in which most CD-ROMs arrive. The caddy is then loaded into the drive like a cartridge. An external or standalone drive operates much the same way as an internal drive except that the drive itself is separate from the computer.

Many drive products today boast audio features, but few disk products on the market today require audio capabilities. Some multimedia-media disks now use audio (The Guinness Disc of Records 1990, and The Electronic Whole Earth Catalog are two), and perhaps we will see more in the future. If you anticipate that audio will be a requirement for CD-ROM at your facility in the future, consider the new drive products on the market from Chinon, Hitachi, and Laser Magnetic Storage. The technology of multimedia-disk players has recently crossed the gap from CD audio players to the CDROM world. Pioneer has come out with a six-disk CD-ROM mini-changer that users of multiple disk databases will cheer about. Now advertised in many CD-ROM publications, the LaserMemory product allows up to six disks to be loaded into a compact magazine. It even has audio capability. This drive is ideal for use with highcapacity files such as geographical maps, illustrated encyclopedias, and financial databases. For more information contact Pioneer toll-free at 800-LASER ON. Some of the 'hottest" drives on the market today are made by Hitachi, Sony, Philips, Chinon, and Toshiba. Amdek has been a popular choice for drives in the past because of their low prices. This firm made a name for itself by repackaging Hitachi drives and pricing them competitively. In a recent interview with an Amdek company representative I learned the company has repositioned itself and is no longer repackaging Hitachi drives. Amdek is now focusing on its monitor business instead of optical products. It has also discontinued manufacture of its Laserdek 1000 PC with a built-in CD-ROM drive. The spokesperson for the company noted that the large installed base of Amdek drives will be supported by the company, but new machines will no longer be sold.

Here are some product offerings from other popular drive manufacturers:

Hitachi: Hitachi has launched its third generation of CD-ROM drives with smaller, faster and more reliable models. These models, both internal and external, all use the disk caddy discussed earlier. …

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