Addonics Pocket CD-RW 8X/4X/24X USB 2.0 review: Addonics Pocket CD-RW 8X/4X/24X USB 2.0

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MSRP: $459.99
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3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Good performer; buffer-underrun protection; slim, lightweight travel design; powered via USB bus.

The Bad Rewrite speed is behind the times; limited-edition software included with the drive; erratic performance under Windows 2000.

The Bottom Line The Pocket CD-RW is rugged enough for mobile users, but it's pricey, and its 4X rewrite speed is no better than that of many USB 1.1 drives.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.0 Overall

Addonics's new USB 2.0 version of its travel-sized Pocket CD-RW is a solid, well-built, mobile product. However, the drive's $339 sticker price is a bit steep for a burner that offers only a 4X rewrite speed. The drive's also rather costly considering the inconsistent times it posted in CNET Labs' write tests, though these are almost certainly due to the bundled Roxio software. Addonics's new USB 2.0 version of its travel-sized Pocket CD-RW is a solid, well-built, mobile product. However, the drive's $339 sticker price is a bit steep for a burner that offers only a 4X rewrite speed. The drive's also rather costly considering the inconsistent times it posted in CNET Labs' write tests, though these are almost certainly due to the bundled Roxio software.

The printed documentation included with the Pocket CD-RW drive is more than sufficient to guide you through the simple plug-and-play installation process. It took us less than 10 minutes to unpack the drive and install it and its accompanying software. The Pocket CD-RW drive works under Windows XP, Me, 98 SE, and 2000, and it's compatible with both USB 2.0 and 1.1, though you'll get only 4X write speeds with USB 1.1. Also, the only software you get with the drive is a limited edition of Roxio Easy CD Creator 5 and DirectCD.

Svelte and silvery
The drive has a stylish, silver and black case, and at only 5.6 by 5.3 by .9 inches, it fits easily into even the most cramped notebook bags. The Pocket CD-RW drive is rugged enough to withstand the rigors of extended travel, and it uses a notebook-style, front-loading, nonpowered tray mechanism. Travel weight is about 14 ounces, and in most cases, the drive can run off of USB bus power, so you can leave the AC adapter at home. Unfortunately, some of the weight you save on the adapter is lost on a rather hefty, proprietary USB cable with a mini-Centronics connector on the drive side.

Testing troubles
Though its final numbers were fine, the Addonics Pocket CD-RW suffered from inconsistent performance under Windows 98 SE and 2000 in CNET Labs' performance tests. The Pocket CD-RW wrote our 500MB data folder in 8 minutes and 4 seconds and blew through our 476MB audio image-file write in a mere 6 minutes and 30 seconds--spot on for an 8X-rated drive. It also averaged 10 minutes, 21 seconds while packet-writing 400MB under Windows 98 SE--about average for a 4X-rated drive. However, the Pocket CD-RW choked miserably while packet-writing under Windows 2000, taking more than an hour.

The drive had no such problem when tested under Windows 98 SE, however; during informal tests, when we switched to Ahead Software's InCD, the drive wrote in a time appropriate for its 4X rating. Based on our observations, we concluded that the most likely culprit for the poor performance under Windows 2000 was the drive's Roxio DirectCD software. Also, the Roxio software lacks an audio-extraction component, so the drive posted no results for that test. On a positive note, the Addonics Pocket CD-RW had no problem with read speeds, requiring only 2 minutes and 18 seconds to install Microsoft Office 98 Small Business Edition.

If you need help at home or on the road, Addonics' online support includes FAQs, driver updates, and e-mail support. The company backs the Pocket CD-RW with an industry-standard one-year warranty. Free telephone support is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, but toll charges may apply.

A tough call
Aside from its Windows 2000 woes, the Addonics Pocket CD-RW is a solid product. But to put it simply, there are faster, cheaper USB 2.0 travel drives available, such as the CenDyne 8X/8X/24X USB 2.0 Slim CD-RW drive.

Write tests
Time, in minutes, to complete tasks (shorter bars indicate better performance)
Audio burn to CD-R from image on hard drive (from 43 min., 11 sec. audio CD)   
Single-session data burn to CD-R (500MB directory)   
Packet-write from hard drive to CD-RW (400MB directory)   
CenDyne 8X/8X/24X USB 2.0 Slim CD-RW
6.42 
8.06 
7.97 
Addonics Pocket CD-RW 8X/4X/24X
6.49 
7.47 
10.44 
Plextor PlexWriter 8/8/24U
6.67 
8.13 
11.57 
 
Audio extraction tests
Time, in minutes, to extract a 26-minute, 58-second audio track (shorter bars indicate better performance)

Plextor PlexWriter 8/8/24U
1.97 
CenDyne 8X/8X/24X USB 2.0 Slim CD-RW
3.3 
Addonics Pocket CD-RW 8X/4X/24X
Not supported by software 
 
Read tests
Time, in minutes, to install Microsoft Office 2000 Small Business Edition (shorter bars indicate better performance)

CenDyne 8X/8X/24X USB 2.0 Slim CD-RW
2.25 
Addonics Pocket CD-RW 8X/4X/24X
2.3 
Plextor PlexWriter 8/8/24U
2.79 
 
The Addonics Pocket CD-RW 8X/4X/24X drive was an inconsistent performer in CNET Labs' tests. We had to switch to Windows 98 SE to complete the packet-writing test because under Windows 2000, the drive took more than an hour to packet-write 400MB of data to CD-RW. All other tests were performed under Windows 2000.

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