In the beginning, burning a CD used to lock up your computer for an hour and a half while your burner was spinning away at 1x, leaving you with plenty of free time to watch a VH-1 program on the rise and fall of Milli Vanilli. The TDK veloCD161040F shows how far technology has come. A 16x CD-R burner can burn a full CD in a little over five and a half minutes. To measure the TDK drive, we ran the same tests we used in our recent FireWire CD-RW 16x10x40x review. Although the TDK veloCD scored right in the middle of the pack, it came in last in terms of value.
The veloCD shares much in common with the latest CD-R drives: it connects to the Mac via FireWire, and it supports a 16x write speed, a 10x rewrite speed, and a 40x read speed. The veloCD also uses BURN-Proof technology to stop buffer underrun errors, which ruin your CDs (or turn them into tiny Frisbees). TDK includes Roxio's Toast 4.1.2 and MusicMatch Jukebox to help with all of your burning and playback needs, which is important since Apple's iTunes and Disc Burner do not currently support the drive. As of the writing of this article, TDK was not sure when the drives will work with Apple's disk-burning applications.
MusicMatch is TDK's solution to iTunes. This application supports audio CD burning, takes skins, and has an equalizer. Despite the equalizer and skins, MusicMatch is no match for iTunes. The controls are confusing, and its interface doesn't compare to iTunes' style and simplicity. However, MusicMatch does offer a variety of recording bit rates.
Setup of the burner is as easy as plug and play since veloCD is a FireWire device. We installed Toast and MusicMatch Jukebox in one session. The speed of the drive is consistent with the other 16x CD burners from our recent tests. The burner's test results fell in the middle of the pack, burning a 650MB file in 5 minutes 40 seconds. It also performed well on our CD-RW write test and CD read test, a Quake III install.
Macworld's Buying Advice
If you're in the market for a 16x CD-RW, you have a lot of choices out there. Most of the drives burn CD-Rs and CD-RWs in roughly the same amount of time. Unfortunately the TDK veloCD161040F is more expensive than the other drives we've reviewed. It's also not currently compatible with Apple's iTunes and Disc Burner. We continue to recommend the LaCie 16x10x40x U&I or the ClubMac FireWire 16x/10x/40x.Hi-Fi Looks: The TDK's casing is not only stylish but also flat enough to stack another drive on it while still giving you access to the Eject button.