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Philips PCRW2010 20x/10x/40x Internal EIDE review:

Philips PCRW2010 20x/10x/40x Internal EIDE

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The Good Excellent performance; powerful bundled software.

The Bad Sparse, incomplete installation instructions; browser-based manual refers to software different than what's bundled.

The Bottom Line This speedy CD-R/RW drive is perfect for experienced users on a budget, but novices will need better documentation than the drive provides.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.0 Overall

Just as you can't judge a book by its cover, you also shouldn't judge a CD-R/RW drive by the numbers printed on the box. Witness the Philips PCRW2010, which, despite its 20X CD-R rating, offers faster read performance than some 24X drives and ranks among the fastest drives we've tested. At $149, it's also surprisingly inexpensive for a leading-edge device. The similarly rated Yamaha CRW2200EZ, for instance, lists for $229. The Yamaha is easier to use and comes with a bit more software, but the Philips drive still qualifies as an outright bargain. Just as you can't judge a book by its cover, you also shouldn't judge a CD-R/RW drive by the numbers printed on the box. Witness the Philips PCRW2010, which, despite its 20X CD-R rating, offers faster read performance than some 24X drives and ranks among the fastest drives we've tested. At $149, it's also surprisingly inexpensive for a leading-edge device. The similarly rated Yamaha CRW2200EZ, for instance, lists for $229. The Yamaha is easier to use and comes with a bit more software, but the Philips drive still qualifies as an outright bargain.

Not for novices
Installation went smoothly with the PCRW2010--no thanks to Philips's skimpy documentation. Terse, confusing instructions appear in very small type on a multilingual CD sleeve. And you have to load the Philips driver software before installing the drive itself, which is a bit unusual. While the wizard-driven software is smart enough to ask if the PCRW2010 is an additional drive or a replacement (and guides you accordingly), there's ultimately too little hand-holding. Novices are likely to get confused, especially given that there's no printed manual to fall back on.

Even the bundled software is confusing to install. If you rerun the installation software after the drive is in (there's no directive to do so), you're eventually asked for CD No. 2--but there isn't one with that label. Fortunately, with only two discs in the box, the mystery is easily solved. CD No. 2 is Ahead Software's Nero Burning ROM 5.5, the included CD-mastering software. While nowhere near as easy to use as Roxio's commonly bundled Easy CD Creator, Nero is a powerful and versatile application. It edits audio, creates image files and video CDs, supports 80-minute CDs and overburning, and much more. Novices, take note: While Nero includes a wizard for compiling and copying CDs, it's a complex program with generally uninformative help files.

Speed racer
Those who are patient and skilled enough to make it through the installation will be rewarded with impressive performance. The PCRW2010 zipped through CNET Labs' benchmark tests, outpacing two 24X drives, the QPS Que (24X/10X/40X) and the Plextor PlexWriter 24/10/40A, on all but the audio-burn and audio-extraction tests--not bad for a 20X drive.

The PCRW2010 seems reliable as well as speedy. Philips's SeamlessLink and Thermo Balanced Writing technologies promise perfect burns on all types of media. We put the drive through a number of informal copying and burning tests, with nary a hiccup or a coaster to report.

Philips covers the drive with a one-year replacement warranty and offers tech support by phone, Internet, or e-mail. If you prefer the phone, it's toll-free and available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET. You can also scan the Philips Web site for FAQs, manuals, and downloads, but it's a bit hard to navigate.

Thumbs up
The Philips PCRW2010 impressed us by exceeding its speed expectations, but it also disappointed us with its inadequate documentation. If you're experienced enough to tackle installation and mastering software without a lot of assistance, the Philips PCRW2010 could be a good choice. Novices and people who don't have the time or the patience to troubleshoot may want to pay a little extra for a slightly slower but more user-friendly device, such as the 20X Yamaha CRW2200EZ.

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)   
Philips PCRW2010 (20X/10X/40X)
2.9 
3.5 
5.6 
Plextor PlexWriter 24/10/40A
3.6 
3.6 
6.8 
QPS Que (24X/10X/40X)
2.8 
3.9 
6.0 
Yamaha CRW2200EZ (20X/10X/40X)
3.4 
4.0 
5.6 
 
Audio extraction tests
Time, in minutes, to extract a 26-minute, 58-second audio track (shorter bars indicate better performance)

Philips PCRW2010 (20X/10X/40X)
1.1 
Plextor PlexWriter 24/10/40A
1.0 
QPS Que (24X/10X/40X)
0.9 
Yamaha CRW2200EZ (20X/10X/40X)
1.2 
 
Read tests
Time, in minutes, to install Microsoft Office 2000 Small Business Edition (shorter bars indicate better performance)

Philips PCRW2010 (20X/10X/40X)
2.9 
Plextor PlexWriter 24/10/40A
3.2 
QPS Que (24X/10X/40X)
3.2 
Yamaha CRW2200EZ (20X/10X/40X)
3.2 
 
The Philips PCW2010 exceeded our expectations for a 20X drive. In three of the five tests, it actually outperformed the 24X models.

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