Recordable CDs increasingly attractive
by Alan Zisman (c)
published in Toronto Computes,
How do you store and transport files? For many of us,
the 1987 1.44
meg floppy disk standard is just too small. A wide range of
have been proposed?from 100 meg drives, to removable drives offering
gigabytes of capacity, but none have really achieved mass acceptance.
are too many competing sizes and formats, and while some of the drives
themselves have been affordable, the disks?the removable media, have
been too expensive.
Quietly, however, an old alternative reborn has been
Recordable CD (CD-R) has been around for years, but never quite taken
CD-R units were expensive and unreliable. It was all to easy to ruin a
$25 blank CD disk. And besides, aren?t CDs themselves about to become
The CD-replacement, DVD is taking longer than
predicted to catch on
in popularity, and the industry hasn?t been able to unite around a
recordable DVD standard. At the same time, the price of recordable
and blank disks has been plummeting, while their convenience and
have been rising. And since virtually all PCs now come equipped with a
CD-ROM player, home-made CDs can be read on far more computers than
alternative removable media.
One example of the new generation is Hewlett-Packard?s
drive. It comes in two models?an internal IDE model (under $600) and an
external parallel port model (under $800). Either are compatible with
PCs, unlike earlier models, which required a SCSI adapter?built-into
but unusual on PCs.
The 7100 is a 6x read unit, recording at slower 2x.
models from other companies may feature 4x recording), and can use
write-once CD-R disks, or re-writable CD-RW blanks. 650 meg CD-R disks
selling for as little as $2 each, are more popular than the $30 CD-RW
(By comparison, a 100 meg Zip disk costs $15-20, while 1 gig disks for
Iomega?s Jaz drive cost around $100 each).
HP includes software from Adaptec with the drive? this
users to create computer or audio-format disks, or to copy existing
Individual files can be copied directly from Win95?s Explorer onto a
or CD-RW disk, and a CD-R disk can be written to over multiple
You can even create a sort-of ?Greatest Hits? audio CD, copying tracks
from a variety of different CDs onto a single disk, which can then be
on any standard audio CD player.
(Music-lovers may consider purchasing additional
software such as Adaptec?s
Easy CD-Creator Pro (US$99?I haven?t found a source for this in Canada,
but it can be ordered over the Web from www.adaptec.com). This adds
capabilities such the ability to create audio CDs from cassette tape or
LP sources, and even to automatically filter out the pops and scratches
from those old LPs.)
The CD-copying utility comes with a warning about
copyright, but gives
users the ability to copy computer software (PC and Mac) and audio CDs
almost as easily as copying a floppy disk. It takes about 35 minutes at
2x speed to copy the 650 megs on a full CD? double that if (as I
you run a trial run first. Sony PlayStation games typically won?t
I suspect as CD writers become more popular, we may see copy protection
become popular with computer software disks as well.
Not all self-recorded disks are playable on all
systems, however. CD-R
disks are not readable on first-generation CD-ROM drives, nor on
DVD drives. CD-RW (re-writable) disks have even more compatibility
Second-generation DVD drives, and virtually all modern CD-ROM drives
not have these problems, however.
As well, there are a wide range of CD-ROM formats;
disks created using
the ISO9600-version 1 standard can be read under DOS and Windows 3.1,
well as later operating systems. While software allowing users to write
to CD from Win95?s Explorer is convenient, the disks it creates don?t
that standard however?as a result, they are only readable under Windows
95/NT 4.0. And depending on the options chosen, some disks may not be
on a CD-ROM drive at all?only with another CD-R drive. It?s important
read the fine print!
CD recorders and especially blank CD-R disks are
affordable and reliable. Add in the ability to read the disks on
of CD-ROM and audio CD players, and they should prove a popular
for many home and small business users.