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TDKÂ’s external 1280B uses a dark charcoal-color case that curves just slightly, giving the drive a sleek, attractive appearance and softening the harsh angles that plague most external drives. Otherwise, there are no surprises with the 1280B. The drive's front panel sports a drive tray, a headphone jack, a volume control, and an eject button.
Once the drive has a home on your desk or shelf, installation is just a matter of connecting an external power adapter and a USB cable (both included). The drive also supports a FireWire (IEEE 1394) connection, if you prefer. One warning, which is clearly marked on the box: the 1280B requires a USB 2.0 port for normal operation and is not compatible with older USB 1.1 ports. Older PCs may require you to upgrade the USB hub and/or Windows (older versions don't fully support USB 2.0). Once it's connected, Windows XP recognizes and installs the drive in just a few seconds. Novice PC users will appreciate the printed documentation to help with the hardware installation.
Like many of todayÂ’s DVD drives, the 1280B is extremely versatile, handling a wide range of recordable and rewritable CD or DVD media at speeds on a par with those of other drives. This makes the 1280B well suited for multimedia work, such as video recording, making backups, archiving photos, music mastering, and many other projects. However, the 1280B does not handle double-layer (DL) burning, so users needing more than 4.7GB of storage should consider DL-capable drives such as the LaCie d2 16X drive.
The 1280B includes a welcome suite of Roxio software, such as DVD Builder for digital video authoring/recording; Creator Classic for data recording to CD/DVD; and AudioCentral for music ripping, playback, and copying. PhotoSuite Lite lets you capture, edit, and manage digital photos; Disc Copier creates backup copies of CDs and DVDs; and Drag-to-Disc provides packet-writing capability for CD-RW media. Additional applications include media players such as Player and DVDMax. Budding artists will also like Label Creator for custom disc labels and case art. Printed documentation covers the basics of each bundled application.
The 1280B returned some of the best--and worst--performances in this roundup. While the 1280B (in 12X DVD+R mode) managed to rip an entire DVD video in 8 minutes, 54 seconds (the fastest DVD video rip speed of the recently tested external drives), it lagged well behind other drives, such as the LaCie d2 16X, when it came to burning DVD video. In 8X DVD-R mode, the 1280B scored dead last in DVD video burning. Results were also mixed when it came to CD audio. The 1280B scored last in CD audio ripping but led the pack when it came time to burn the CD audio. If you use rewritable DVD media for data such as documents, photos, and spreadsheets, the 1280B runs last in RW reading (regardless of your +RW or -RW media choice), lagging behind other drives such as the Memorex True 8X and the LaCie d2 16X, though it holds its own in terms of RW writing.
TDK backs the 1280B with a standard one-year warranty. Users can get free, toll-free phone support for the life of the drive, Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PT. If youÂ’d rather not hold, live chat is available through the TDK support site Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT, and you can also submit queries via e-mail. The TDK Web site provides a FAQ, a searchable knowledge base, electronic manuals, instructive videos, and access to firmware upgrades.
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