Yesterday MacCentral posted news about compatibility issues between Que!Fire CD-RW drives from QPS, Inc. and iTunes, Apple’s free MP3 software. QPS today offered clarification — a company spokesperson earlier confused two separate issues involving firmware updates on certain Que!Fire drives. (MacCentral has taken the original article offline to avoid confusion.)
According to the documentation included with Apple’s iTunes 1.1 download, iTunes users may encounter “poor playback performance” with certain QPS Que!Fire drives that utilize a Plextor-manufactured mechanism equipped with firmware versions prior to 1.0.7.
QPS spokesperson Rod Carrigan confirmed that the company’s earliest shipments of Que!Fire 12x10x32x drives with Plextor mechanisms sported firmware versions prior to 1.0.7. Carrigan said the company switched to the 1.0.7 firmware, so there are comparatively few drives in distribution using the earlier version. And for the most part, the company hasn’t seen any problems with the earlier firmware revisions.
Since then, however, the company has switched to TEAC to provide the mechanisms used in its Que!Fire 12x10x32 mechanisms. Carrigan said that a delivery snafu caused QPS’s earliest shipped TEAC-equipped Que!Fire drives to come with version 2.0A firmware installed. When that firmware is combined with Roxio’s Toast software, also included with the drive, causes fairly immediately visible problems.
Carrigan said that there’s a problem getting 2.0A-equipped Que!Fire drives working effectively with Toast under certain circumstances, if the drive’s Burn-Proof technology is enabled. Burn-Proof is a special caching technology that reduces the likelihood the drive will experience a buffer underrun error, which would otherwise result in a corrupted CD-R.
Carrigan said that QPS and TEAC quickly resolved the problem — anyone using a TEAC-equipped Que!Fire drive with firmware version 2.0B or later should not experience any problems. Users can check their drive information from within the Toast CD-R mastering software included with the drive. To check, launch Toast and select the Recorder menu, then choose Recorder Info. If Toast says that you’re using a TEAC CD-W512EB model with firmware 2.0B or later, you’re all set.
Any users still holding a TEAC-equipped Que!Fire drive with the 2.0A firmware installed are strongly encouraged to get in touch with QPS tech support — call 714.692.3588 for assistance. Customers with TEAC mechanisms using the 2.0A firmware will be issued an express RMA number that will enable them to ship the Que!Fire drive back to QPS (at QPS’s expense) for repair.
Carrigan believes that most of the TEAC-equipped Que!Fire drives that had this problem have already been taken care of. “That took us a couple of weeks to sort out,” said Carrigan. Carrigan said that since then, TEAC-equipped Que!Fire drives have been shipping with later firmware versions that work great on the Mac.
Plextor-equipped Que!Fire 12x10x32x CD-RW drives are a different story, however. Carrigan says that the drives work as intended. “There was no problem with the firmware on the Plextor drive when it shipped, and newer versions of Toast, which is what we ship with the drive, have no problems working with the older firmware,” said Carrigan.
Plextor’s own documentation stated that the 1.0.7 firmware improves some Macintosh-related issues. Previous versions also correct media handling problems and optimize performance under certain conditions.
If you have a Plextor-based Que!Fire 12x10x32x CD-RW drive, it’ll be recognized as “QPS PX-W1210A” by Toast. The drive info and firmware version can by found by clicking on Toast’s Recorder menu and selecting Recorder Info.
Carrigan understands that some Plextor-equipped Que!Fire drive users may want to have the latest version of the firmware installed on their drives. QPS even offers the firmware updater for download from their Web site, though it’s PC executable file only. That’s the form it comes in from Plextor, which to date hasn’t released a firmware updater for Mac OS.
Carrigan said that users can update the firmware, if they have access to PC-compatible computer equipped with a FireWire (or IEEE 1394) interface. The entire process takes about five minutes at most. (And no, VirtualPC or other PC emulator software on the Mac won’t work.) Otherwise, customers are welcome to get in touch with QPS, Inc. tech support for an RMA number, and QPS will do the firmware upgrade in-house. Carrigan advised that customers will be responsible for paying the freight to QPS themselves, however.
But whither a Mac OS-compatible firmware updater? Carrigan said that QPS is encouraging Plextor to release a Mac version, which he hopes will soon happen. He doesn’t have a specific release schedule, however.
“We have also been trying to get Mac versions of the firmware updates from Plextor but haven’t received any yet, although they are working on it,” said Carrigan.
Keep your fingers crossed, folks. If your Plextor-equipped Que!Fire drive is working with Toast and iTunes sufficiently for your needs, it may well be worth waiting to help avoid the time, cost and hassle involved with sending in your drive.