Sony Electronics, Inc.
has introduced a couple of new high-speed CD-RW drives with interfaces and software designed to enable the drives to work on both PCs and Macs. The drives will be released later this year. Each model features a maximum CD-R burn rate of 24x, a rewriteable speed of 10x, and a read speed of 40x. Sony’s Mac-compatible offerings include two external systems equipped with either USB 2.0 or FireWire interfaces.
The drives feature sustained transfer rates of 6MB/s read, 3.6MB/s write. Random access time averages at about 150 ms, and the drives come equipped with 2MB of buffer memory.
Sony noted that the new drives feature Sony’s own brand of anti-buffer underrun technology, which the company calls Power-Burn. Like similar technologies deployed on other CD-RW drives, Power-Burn is designed to prevent the drive from creating “coasters,” or ruined CD-Rs that don’t work because not enough data could be fed to them by the drive during the mastering process.
The drives also feature Sony’s CD-RW Software Suite, an integrated product installer which includes (for Mac users):
B’s Recorder Gold, lets users create back-up copies of CDs as well as video, music and data CDs from various file formats;
ArcSoft PhotoBase, allows users to create image, video and audio albums; share files in the form of slide shows, Web presentations or video postcards; and to store multimedia files on CDs;
ArcSoft PhotoStudio, lets users edit digital images and apply special effects and enhancements;
ArcSoft VideoImpression, provides a way to edit videos and image files, as well as make desktop video productions;
Retrospect Express, provides users with unattended backup and disaster recovery capability.
FireWire is standard-issue on new Macs these days, but USB 2.0 is not yet a Mac standard. Some early adopters have installed USB 2.0 interface cards on their Mac OS X-equipped systems, however, and the faster USB interface is also downwardly compatible with the USB 1.1 interface found on Macs — the drive will only operate at 4x4x6 speed on USB 1.1 systems, however. The drives are compatible with Mac OS 9.0.4 or higher, according to Sony.
Sony said the new USB 2.0 and FireWire drives will be available this November. Expect the FireWire-equipped drive to be called the “Sony CD-RW i.LINK External Drive” — i.LINK is Sony’s nomenclature for the IEEE 1394 standard, called FireWire by Apple. The USB 2.0 system will carry a suggested retail price of US$279, while the FireWire version will be available for about $299.
(Sony also noted the release of two other 24x drives in internal configurations, one including a Memory Stick slot. Unfortunately, neither of those drives are listed as Mac-compatible.)