Lack of storage can be a problem for those who use a PowerBook as their primary system. Applications, games, MP3s, and DV footage add up quickly, so it's not unusual to find yourself wondering where all those gigabytes went. Luckily, PowerBook storage devices are becoming plentiful and are no longer limited to just hard drives. Macworld Lab looked at MCE's Xcarét Pro Media Bay CD-RW drive for Bronze and FireWire G3 PowerBooks and found an excellent way to free up space on your PowerBook's drive without turning to more space-consuming USB and FireWire CD-RW drives (see "FireWire CD-RW Drives," November 2000 ).
Capable of writing CD-Rs and CD-RWs at a speed of 4x and reading standard CDs at 20x max, the Xcarét Pro Media Bay CD-RW drive works just like the DVD and CD-ROM modules that ship standard with the current line of PowerBooks. Simply insert it into your PowerBook's right-side expansion bay, and you're ready to start burning. No additional system software is needed because the drive uses Apple's own CD/DVD driver. The drive is conveniently bundled with Adaptec Toast to get you started burning CDs -- which we did without a hitch.
After completing file-transfer tests using 600MB of data, we found that the Xcarét Pro Media Bay CD-RW actually performs faster than the standard 2x DVD-ROM module included with the 400MHz PowerBook G3 models. This is due to the Xcarét's bigger cache -- 2MB versus the standard 512K in the DVD-ROM module -- and the latter's built-in power-management features, which can slow down performance.