If you bought a PowerBook G4 that was released prior to November 2002, you probably envy the built-in burning capabilities of the current crop of PowerBooks. With Other World Computing’s (OWC’s) internal Mercury Ti SuperDrive 4x, you can set aside those thoughts of inadequacy, but you’ll need the technical expertise to disassemble your PowerBook.
The Mercury replaces the CD-ROM/DVD-ROM or CD-RW/DVD-ROM Combo drive of any 15-inch Titanium PowerBook G4 (400MHz to 1GHz), but it doesn’t include the necessary Phillips-head and Torx screwdrivers. We installed the drive in 15 minutes without any problems, but if you question your skills, you can opt to pay OWC $60 to perform the installation.
OWC uses the exact same mechanism that’s in the currently shipping Macs, but you must run the PatchBurn II software (available on OWC’s Web site) once before Apple’s i-apps — iDVD, iMovie, iTunes, and so on — recognize the drive as capable of burning. Third-party software support is hit-or-miss. Roxio Toast Titanium 6.0.5 recognized the drive immediately, but Dantz Retrospect 6.0 required us to manually configure a driver. For a brand-new mechanism, this isn’t surprising, but it’s disappointing that the drive wasn’t 100 percent compatible out of the box, as were the older 1x and 2x models we informally tested. The Mercury reads CDs and burns both CD-Rs and CD-RWs at 24x. It reads DVD-ROMs at 12x, and it burns DVD-Rs at 4x and DVD-RWs at 2x.
In our tests, the 4x drive was significantly faster than the 2x drive, which was noticeably faster than the 1x drive. But due to unavoidable overhead, the 4x drive was not precisely four times as fast as the 1x drive. OWC has confirmed that the 4x drive (like many other CD and DVD burners) can be picky about which media it will burn at 4x.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
If portability is your biggest concern, you can’t beat an internal upgrade such as the OWC Mercury Ti SuperDrive 4x.