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TEAC CD-W516E 16X/10X/40X Internal review:

TEAC CD-W516E 16X/10X/40X Internal

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The Good Burns quickly; a speedy reader.

The Bad Unusually slow audio extraction.

The Bottom Line The TEAC performs well on data applications, but audio enthusiasts might look elsewhere.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.0 Overall

The TEAC CD-W516E offers the best price and is the fastest drive for reading and writing data discs in CNET's roundup. Unfortunately, it falls short in other areas. Light documentation makes installation a little more challenging for novices, and the drive's digital audio extraction (DAE) performance lagged behind the pack. Audiophiles may want to hold out for a drive with faster DAE, but more savvy users may jump at the TEAC's value for nonaudio applications. The TEAC CD-W516E offers the best price and is the fastest drive for reading and writing data discs in CNET's roundup. Unfortunately, it falls short in other areas. Light documentation makes installation a little more challenging for novices, and the drive's digital audio extraction (DAE) performance lagged behind the pack. Audiophiles may want to hold out for a drive with faster DAE, but more savvy users may jump at the TEAC's value for nonaudio applications.

Nice price
The TEAC CD-W516E's low $229 price and internal IDE connection make it a cost-effective upgrade for PC users with a modicum of know-how. While installing an internal drive takes a bit more time and thought than connecting a USB or FireWire device, the TEAC kit contains everything you need to do so successfully: drive, manual, CD audio cable, 40-pin signal cable, mounting screws, and software CD. TEAC also throws in a blank CD-R and CD-RW.

Although the documentation that comes with the CD-W516E is a bit light, installation is straightforward. The IDE interface means that the TEAC can be installed by itself on an IDE channel or alongside other IDE-type drives. The TEAC drive can be installed in any available drive bay and connected to your IDE controller in less than 15 minutes. Windows recognizes the drive at start-up, at which time you can install the included software.

Unfortunately, the CD-W516E's bundled software could be better. The Roxio Easy CD Creator 5 suite provides DirectCD and all of the tools needed to copy or create data and music discs. But the only notable new feature is a fancy graphical interface that offers a bit more hand-holding for data and audio recording tasks and little more. The rest of the software is conspicuously devoid of documentation, diagnostics, how-to video clips, or presentations, as well as other media and utilities that are frequently found with the latest CD-R/RW drives.

Dazzling performance, except...
When it came to speed, the TEAC was a good performer in all but one area. CNET Labs' test results showed that the TEAC outperformed the LaCie 161040, the QPS Que Fire, and the Plextor PlexWriter 16/10/40A in various tests. The 400MB packet-writing test from hard drive to CD-RW took the TEAC only 7 minutes, the best time of all the drives tested. It burned a 43-minute audio track to CD-R in just 3.7 minutes--second only to the Plextor. The TEAC drive also beat the competition by installing Office 2000 SBE in just 3.1 minutes. But the 500MB single-session data burn to CD-R took about 4.4 minutes (edged out by the QPS and the Plextor). And the real disappointment with the TEAC came with a 3.4-minute extraction of a 27-minute audio track--far behind the other drives' scores.

The TEAC CD-W516E comes with a typical one-year warranty (we wish it were longer) and adequate support. Free phone support is available for just about every region of the world, but it's not toll-free and is accessible only during business hours (in North America, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday). E-mail and Web support is available 24/7 through the TEAC site, which also offers updated drivers, firmware, FAQs, downloadable manuals, and a glossary to help demystify CD-R/RW terminology.

No-nonsense
TEAC's rewritable drive is a plain, no-nonsense, competitively priced kit, ideal for experienced users and enthusiasts. Novices may want a kit with more comprehensive printed documentation or additional utilities on the CD. Data applications will certainly benefit from the TEAC, but audio enthusiasts will want a drive with faster audio-extraction performance.

The TEAC performed like a stripped-down drag racer on most tests, but it lumbered like a tractor at digital audio extraction.

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