VisionTek Xtasy 48X/12X/48X EIDE review:

VisionTek Xtasy 48X/12X/48X EIDE

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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Fast overall performance; quiet; free lifetime tech support.

The Bad Finicky media support; sparse documentation; no online tech-support resources.

The Bottom Line The Xtasy is one of the speediest CD burners available for the price, but newbies should steer clear.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.0 Overall

An all-around fast CD burner is a rare bird these days. Most manufacturers sacrifice overall performance for one bright spot, such as straight burning speed, but the VisionTek Xtasy 48X CD-RW drive is one exception. This burner offers great performance in every area and features some cutting-edge technologies to boot--all for a reasonable price. So what's the catch? The drive delivers peak performance with only the right brands of CD-R media, and its poor documentation will confuse and frustrate novices. But if you're experienced with CD burners, the Xtasy 48X CD-RW drive will prove a good investment. An all-around fast CD burner is a rare bird these days. Most manufacturers sacrifice overall performance for one bright spot, such as straight burning speed, but the VisionTek Xtasy 48X CD-RW drive is one exception. This burner offers great performance in every area and features some cutting-edge technologies to boot--all for a reasonable price. So what's the catch? The drive delivers peak performance with only the right brands of CD-R media, and its poor documentation will confuse and frustrate novices. But if you're experienced with CD burners, the Xtasy 48X CD-RW drive will prove a good investment.

Bare essentials
At $159 ($129 after a $30 rebate), the VisionTek Xtasy is indeed reasonably priced, but you wont get anything fancy. The box contains just an IDE cord, an audio cable, mounting screws, one blank CD-R, a software installation CD--which includes Ahead Nero Burning ROM 5.5, InCD 3.1, and Adobe Acrobat 4.0--and a 13-page manual. The instruction booklet covers only hardware installation and troubleshooting; you're on your own with the software. Fortunately, Nero's wizard-laden interface is easy to use and guides you through most CD-burning tasks.

The drive itself, however, features some useful technologies. Burn-Proof helps prevent data loss due to buffer underrun. The drive's vibration-absorber system keeps it quiet and circumvents errors caused by rattling.

VisionTek's Smart-Burn technology, unfortunately, raises eyebrows. Smart-Burn automatically checks media quality, then sets a limit to burning speed to ensure successful writing and data integrity, but it's finicky; you must use the correct brand of CD-R media to get the best performance. In informal tests, we couldn't convince the drive to write to generic CD-Rs at its full 48X rate unless Smart-Burn was disabled.

Finicky but fast
With CD-Rs provided by VisionTek, the Xtasy excelled in CNET Labs' tests; it beat the best of the 40X/12X/48X clan on three out of four speed tests. The drive burned a 43-minute audio CD in only 1 minute, 48 seconds; wrote 400MB to a CD-RW in 5 minutes, 18 seconds; and ripped, or extracted, a 27-minute audio track in a mere 44 seconds. On the read test, however, the VisionTek Xtasy took about 1 minute, 51 seconds to install Microsoft Office 2000 Small Business Edition, trailing competing drives by about 20 seconds. The Xtasy also fully formatted CD-RW media in less than 2 minutes, as opposed to the 15 minutes that most CD-RW drives take.

Mixed support
The Xtasy's tech support is a mixed bag. The drive comes with a standard one-year warranty and lifetime toll-free phone support, which is unfortunately available only Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT. And VisionTek's online support pages hardly mention the Xtasy drive; instead, they mainly cover the company's graphics cards and memory.

If you're familiar with CD burning and don't mind taking time to find the right media, the VisionTek Xtasy 48X CD-RW is a solid, speedy choice. But with the wrong discs, you're either restricted to lower speeds or run the risk of data errors. Newcomers to CD burning should turn to the slightly slower TDK VeloCD 40X/12X/48X EIDE, which offers speedy performance, detailed documentation, and copious online support.

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)   
VisionTek Xtasy CD-RW (48X/12X/48X)
1.8 
5.31 
TDK VeloCD 40/12/48
2.17 
5.43 
TEAC CD-W540E (40X/12X/48X)
2.83 
5.47 
QPS Que (40X/12X/48X)
2.43 
13.74 
 
Audio-extraction tests
Time, in minutes, to extract a 26-minute, 58-second audio track (shorter bars indicate better performance)

VisionTek Xtasy CD-RW (48X/12X/48X)
0.74 
QPS Que (40X/12X/48X)
0.88 
TDK VeloCD 40/12/48
1.25 
TEAC CD-W540E (40X/12X/48X)
1.6 
 
Read tests
Time, in minutes, to install Microsoft Office 2000 Small Business Edition (shorter bars indicate better performance)

TEAC CD-W540E (40X/12X/48X)
1.46 
QPS Que (40X/12X/48X)
1.48 
TDK VeloCD 40/12/48
1.52 
VisionTek Xtasy CD-RW (48X/12X/48X)
1.86 
 
The VisionTek Xtasy burned a 43-minute audio CD in only 1 minute, 48 seconds; wrote 400MB to a CD-RW in 5 minutes, 18 seconds; and ripped (extracted) a 27-minute audio track in a mere 44 seconds. On all three tests, it beat the best of the 40X/12X/48X clan. On the read test, however, the VisionTek Xtasy took about 1 minute, 51 seconds to install Microsoft Office 2000 Small Business Edition, trailing the other drives by about 20 seconds.

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