Plextor ships fast, writable combo drive

Plextor Corp. this week released the PlexCombo, the first combination drive to support 20X CD-Recording (CD-R) along with providing a DVD reader.

The 20/10/40-12A internal optical disc drive supports 10X CD-Rewriting (CD-RW) and playback speeds of 40X-max CD-ROM and 12X-max DVD-ROM. It carries a suggested retail price of $229, which is slightly more expensive than buying a similarly rated CD-RW drive and a 16X DVD-ROM drive separately.

Fremont, Calif.-based Plextor isn't the first company to release a combination CD-RW writer and DVD-ROM reader, but it is the first to achieve these write and rewrite speeds.

Earlier this year, LG Electronics Inc. in Seoul, South Korea, released the GCC-4120B, a 12X/8X/32X CD-RW drive with an 8X DVD-ROM reader. Other companies that have ventured into the combo market -- at similar or slower speeds -- include Hewlett-Packard Co., Ricoh Corp. in Tokyo and Samsung Electronics Co. in Seoul. Also this week, Tokyo-based Pioneer Corp. announced the DVR-A04, a combination DVD/CD-R and CD-RW drive. It's scheduled to ship this month at a suggested retail price of $499.

HP recently announced a pair of combination rewritable DVD and CD drives that support write-once DVD+R as well as DVD+RW. The internal DVD200i and external DVD200e are scheduled to ship in May. However, while those drives have recordable and rewritable DVD support, the CD-R write speeds aren't as fast as Plextor's entry.

Combo Advantages

Plextor's drive is the first to be able to burn to CD-Rs at 20X; that translates into about a 2-minute time saving for each full 650MB CD-R. And even though the drive's speed rating is half that of the current high-end 40X-generation drives, the real-world difference between the two is only about 2 minutes.

A combo drive is particularly useful to those who are upgrading an older system that lacks both CD-RW and DVD-ROM. Likewise, a combo drive is ideal for upgrading systems that have few available drive bays.

The combo drive's primary advantage is that "it gives [users] the benefit of having DVD-ROM readability in a single device," said Howard Wing, vice president of sales and marketing at Plextor.

Plextor's half-height combination drive drops into a standard PC drive bay and can be installed either vertically or horizontally. The PlexCombo connects by E-IDE to any desktop computer, whether a PC or Macintosh. It's plug-and-play compatible with multiple versions of Windows, including XP.

Traditionally, Plextor has been focused on CD-ROM and CD-RW drives.

"We've never had a DVD-ROM product before," Wing said. "But over the last year and a half [to] two years, I've had repeated e-mails from users asking us for a DVD-ROM product."

This story, "Plextor ships fast, writable combo drive" was originally published by PCWorld.

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon