I/O Magic I522452 internal 52X CD-RW review: I/O Magic I522452 internal 52X CD-RW

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The Good Easy to install; quiet; excellent online support.

The Bad Relatively poor performance; mediocre burning software; no printed manual; no Mac support.

The Bottom Line If you already have Nero Burning ROM or Easy CD Creator, the I/O Magic provides smooth, quiet, and fast performance. Otherwise, check out the 52X TDK VeloCD.

6.6 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 6
  • Performance 8
  • Support 6

Because software plays such an important role in a CD burner's performance, most drive manufacturers include either Ahead's Nero Burning ROM or Roxio's Easy CD Creator, the two most popular and highly regarded recording applications. The I/O Magic I522452 internal CD-RW, however, comes equipped with CD-Maker, a software suite from NewTech InfoSystems. Instead of optimizing the drive's performance, this mediocre package hinders it, especially in CNET Labs' packet-writing tests. Still, the I/O Magic delivers smooth performance and has the potential to outdo many other top-rated contenders if you bring your own software. The included quick-install guide makes setting up the I/O Magic I522452 internal CD-RW easy, even for beginners. The guide uses large font sizes and color photos to walk you through the hardware and software installation. It also provides simple and easy-to-understand explanations for the master, slave, and cable-select settings on the back of the drive--a smart move since these settings sometimes confuse novices. But unfortunately, the company fails to include a detailed and in-depth printed manual with its helpful starter guide. If you need additional assistance, you'll have to call your tech-savvy computer friend or contact technical support. As if in anticipation, the company prominently prints the support phone number on the front of the quick-install guide.

The I/O Magic I522452 internal CD-RW comes in a rather Spartan package. In addition to the drive, the box includes mounting screws, an audio cable, one blank 32X CD-R, a warranty card, and a software CD. The mediocre software suite (more on this later) includes NewTech InfoSystems' CD-Maker Plus 5.1.30 for CD mastering and the same company's FileCD 2.0.18 for packet writing, as well an electronic quick-start guide and a full user manual that explains how to work with your new software. The drive is compatible with PCs running Windows 95, 98 SE, Me, 2000, NT 4.0, and XP but unfortunately not Macs.

The I/O Magic I522452 internal CD-RW sports a traditional look and resembles most optical drives with its plain, beige faceplate. On the front of the drive, you'll find a headphone jack, a volume-control wheel, a fast-forward button, and an eject button. The output tray features little tabs to hold the disc in place so that you can mount the drive either horizontally or vertically.

NTI CD-Maker.

The drive's profoundly mediocre software suite includes NewTech InfoSystems' watered-down CD-Maker Plus 5.1.30 (for CD mastering) and FileCD 2.0.18 (for packet writing), which let you perform basic tasks. For example, you can copy whole CDs; burn data, audio, and video CDs; or create CDs with both data and audio on the same disc. However, the software's packet-writing support is backward. While programs such as Ahead Software's InCD and Roxio's DirectCD let you seamlessly drag and drop data onto CD-RWs using Windows Explorer, NTI's FileCD uses its own Explorer-like window for drag and drop. And unlike the other packet-writing programs, FileCD won't let you save data directly from an application such as Microsoft Word onto the disc. Instead, you must save the file before you can copy it to disc.

The software CD includes a 30-day trial version of CD-Maker Deluxe. With the full version, you can perform more-advanced tasks, such as recording an audio CD straight from a microphone or other live source. You also get a trial version of NewTech InfoSystem's Backup Now Deluxe.

The I/O Magic I522452 internal CD-RW operated smoothly and quietly in CNET Labs' tests but offered mixed performance. It took 1 minute, 49 seconds to burn a 43-minute audio CD, which put it at the low end of our chart when compared with other top-speed CD burners. For example, the CenDyne Lightning V took only 1 minute, 38 seconds to finish the same job, about 11 seconds faster.

When it came to packet writing, the I/O Magic performed painfully slowly. After we formatted a Verbatim 24X CD-RW using the bundled NTI FileCD software, the drive took more than nine minutes to copy 400MB to the disc. Other 24X drives, such as the CenDyne Lightning V and the TDK VeloCD completed the same task in less than five minutes. For comparison, we repeated the test using Ahead Software's InCD rather than FileCD and noticed a significant difference; the burning time dropped to only three minutes, making it among the fastest drives we've ever tested. In read tests, the I/O Magic turned in scores on a par with those of other 52X drives.

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)   
Packet-write from hard drive to CD-RW (400MB directory)   
LaCie 52X/24X/52X CD-RW (USB 2.0)
CenDyne Lightning V (52X/24X/52X)
Memorex internal CD-ReWritable (52X/24X/52X)
BenQ 5224P 52X CD-RW
I/O Magic I522452 internal CD-RW (52X/24X/52X)
Audio-extraction tests
Time, in minutes, to extract a 26-minute, 58-second audio track (shorter bars indicate better performance)

CenDyne Lightning V (52X/24X/52X)
Memorex internal CD-ReWritable (52X/24X/52X)
LaCie 52X/24X/52X CD-RW (USB 2.0)
BenQ 5224P 52X CD-RW
I/O Magic I522452 internal CD-RW (52X/24X/52X)
Read tests
Time, in minutes, to install Microsoft Office 2000 Small Business Edition (shorter bars indicate better performance)

CenDyne Lightning V (52X/24X/52X)
BenQ 5224P 52X CD-RW
Memorex internal CD-ReWritable (52X/24X/52X)
I/O Magic I522452 internal CD-RW (52X/24X/52X)
LaCie 52X/24X/52X CD-RW (USB 2.0)
All write tests are run with both the drive's recommended media--submitted by the manufacturer--and with Verbatim media, rated at the drive's maximum speed. For more details on how we test optical drives, see CNET Labs' site.

I/O Magic backs its I522452 internal CD-RW with a one-year limited warranty, which is standard for the industry. Phone support is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, but it's a toll call.

I/O Magic support Web site.

In addition to the usual assortment of driver downloads, firmware upgrades, manuals, and FAQs, the company's Web site offers a few helpful extras. For example, you can chat live with a technician or visit the Support Forum, where you can post questions or reply to other users. The site also features videos on how to use your burning software.

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