CenDyne 8X/8X/24X USB 2.0 Slim CD-RW review:

CenDyne 8X/8X/24X USB 2.0 Slim CD-RW

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MSRP: $249.00
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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Great performance; buffer-underrun protection; light and portable.

The Bad Proprietary USB cable; no volume control; no power switch.

The Bottom Line Light, thin, and fast, the USB 2.0 CenDyne 8X/8X/24X Slim CD-RW is the best travel-sized CD-RW drive we've seen to date. It's also reasonably priced. What more can we say?

8.0 Overall
Editors' note:
Earlier this month, CenDyne was ordered by the Superior Court of California to shut down. The company is no longer shipping products and is not servicing warranties, honoring rebates, or providing technical support. Consumers should exercise caution before purchasing CenDyne products. Read the full story. (August 22, 2003)
The preproduction CenDyne 8X/8X/24X USB 2.0 Slim CD-RW drive we tested is an impressive product. Not only is it thinner and lighter than the travel-sized USB 2.0 CD-RW competition, it's the first to live up to the potential of the 60MB-per-second USB 2.0 technology, making the CenDyne our current pick among mobile CD-RW drives. The preproduction CenDyne 8X/8X/24X USB 2.0 Slim CD-RW drive we tested is an impressive product. Not only is it thinner and lighter than the travel-sized USB 2.0 CD-RW competition, it's the first to live up to the potential of the 60MB-per-second USB 2.0 technology, making the CenDyne our current pick among mobile CD-RW drives.

Packing light
Weighing approximately 12 ounces and measuring 5.1 by 5.6 by .6 inches, the CenDyne is the thinnest and lightest mobile CD-RW drive we've tested. Its small size also made it difficult to fit much more than the drive mechanism within the case, so there are no volume or playback controls to complement the unit's headphone jack. However, these functions can easily be handled via software from your notebook. Also, the CenDyne won't run on USB bus power alone, so you'll need to keep the included 4-ounce AC adapter in your travel kit.

We didn't have the production documentation or packaging, but we didn't need it; setting up the CenDyne was absurdly simple. Just plug the drive into the USB port with the supplied cable, plug in the AC adapter, and you're ready to rumble. The drive is compatible with Windows XP, Me, and 2000. Our Windows Me and Windows 2000 test systems instantly recognized the drive, and no additional drivers were required. Installing the bundled Nero Burning ROM from Ahead Software took about five minutes and required one reboot. After that, it was smooth (and speedy) sailing.

A star performer
The CenDyne 8X/8X/24X Slim CD-RW drive proves that USB 2.0 truly allows top-flight performance. In CNET Labs' tests, the drive took only 8 minutes and 3 seconds to burn our 500MB test file to CD-R; it took 6 minutes and 25 seconds to packet-write 400MB to CD-RW. It also installed Microsoft Office 2000 Small Business Edition in a mere 2 minutes, 15 seconds. Those times are right on target for the drive's ratings and considerably faster overall than those of the Plextor PlexWriter 8/8/24U and the Addonics Pocket CD-RW. One exception involved the audio-extraction test, in which the CenDyne took 80 seconds longer than the PlexWriter to extract a 26-minute audio file. The CenDyne also features buffer-underrun-protection technology so that you can multitask while burning discs without fear of creating coasters.

Included with the drive are Ahead Software's Nero 5.5, for CD-mastering, and InCD, for packet-writing. Nero's learning curve is a bit steep, but you'll be glad you took the time to learn the ins and outs of what is easily the most reliable and powerful mastering program available.

CenDyne backs the drive with a one-year warranty, and telephone support is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. PT. Sadly, the call is on your dime. At the time of our review, the company's online support did not yet include this model, but based on the resources for existing models, it's reasonable to expect FAQs, software and firmware updates, product registration, e-mail support, and even a tech-support bulletin-board system.

Pick of the litter
The CenDyne 8X/8X/24X USB 2.0 Slim CD-RW drive is smaller and faster and costs no more than the other USB 2.0 drives we've tested, making it the current leader of the travel-sized CD-RW pack. In short, it's the one you want.

Editor's note: This page has changed from our original version. Please see the corrections page.

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 
 
All in all, the CenDyne 8X/8X/24X USB 2.0 Slim CD-RW drive outperformed its opponents in our CD-RW read and write tests. However, the PlexWriter beat it by a sliver on the 500MB data burn and by a considerable margin on the audio-extraction test.

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