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Yamaha CRW3200EZ 24X/10X/40X EIDE review:

Yamaha CRW3200EZ 24X/10X/40X EIDE

  • 1
MSRP: $229.99
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The Good Outstanding software bundle; top-notch write performance; huge memory buffer.

The Bad Slightly subpar packet-writing and audio-extraction performance.

The Bottom Line A good choice for anyone who wants strong overall CD-RW performance and plenty of powerful software.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.0 Overall

Even the fastest CD-RW drive isn't worth a penny if it doesn't have the right software to go along with it. Although it has a slightly higher price tag than competing drives, the Yamaha CRW3200EZ has all the tools you could ever want--and then some. With some of the fastest times we've ever seen and two CDs packed with useful software, the Yamaha is a solid choice for anyone looking for a strong all-around burner. Even the fastest CD-RW drive isn't worth a penny if it doesn't have the right software to go along with it. Although it has a slightly higher price tag than competing drives, the Yamaha CRW3200EZ has all the tools you could ever want--and then some. With some of the fastest times we've ever seen and two CDs packed with useful software, the Yamaha is a solid choice for anyone looking for a strong all-around burner.

Load it up
Setting up the $199 Yamaha drive couldn't be easier. Everything you need comes in the box, including cables, screws, two blank CDs (one CD-R, one CD-RW), and ample documentation. A foldout Quick Setup Map takes you step by step through the installation process and even includes handy tips, such as how to guard against static charge. A thick paper manual tells you everything you need to know about both the drive and all the included software--a nice touch compared to a collection of electronic manuals on the CD. The drive is compatible with nearly all of the Windows flavors: 95, 98, NT 4.x, Me, 2000, and XP.

Tools to spare
The Yamaha comes with one of the richest software bundles we've seen. Ahead Nero Burning Rom 5.5 handles all your basic burning tasks and is a cinch to use. Nero InCD 3.1 easily tackles the drive-letter packet writing. The Nero suite also comes with a handful of simple utilities, such as Wave Editor for audio tinkering, Cover Designer for concocting CD labels and jackets, and Toolkit for controlling and monitoring the drive's speeds. NeroMix rounds out the package and does double duty as a media player and an audio-extraction utility.

Pop in the second CD, and you'll find a bounty of graphics and multimedia tools. Adobe's PhotoDeluxe 4.0 is a surprisingly powerful image-editing tool that takes only a few minutes to master. Adobe ActiveShare 1.03 organizes all your photos into electronic albums and makes them easier to share online. MusicMatch Jukebox 6.0 functions much in the same way as NeroMix--but with a few extra surprises, such as 20 free songs from Epitonic.com right on the CD.

Lightning burn
For straight data burns, the Yamaha leaves most other drives in the dust, according to CNET Labs' test results. It burned a 500MB data CD in 2 minutes, 42 seconds--at least half a minute faster than nearly all other drives in the 24X/10X/40X camp. It also placed at the very top of the heap in regular read tests, thanks in part to the Yamaha's spacious 8MB buffer (most drives in this class have 2MB).

In the packet-writing test, the drive slowed to the middle of the pack, copying 400MB onto a rewritable disc in 6 minutes, 36 seconds. Oddly, its audio extraction was significantly slower than that of most of its competitors; taking 1 minute, 36 seconds to extract 27 minutes of audio, it lagged behind the bargain-priced TEAC CD-W524E by half a minute.

If problems arise, the drive offers a one-year limited warranty and toll-free tech support, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PT. Its online support is fairly average, offering e-mail tech support, a light driver library, online manuals, and a small FAQ section.

Wind down
If you plan to do a lot of normal CD-mastering tasks, such as creating data and audio CDs, the Yamaha CRW3200EZ is an outstanding choice. The drive's direct price of $199 is a little high, but we found it online for around $160. The included software is a cut above average, and its performance is better than solid on nearly all counts. But if you like your CD-RW drives fast and cheap, you can get the QPS Que 24X/10X/40X or the TEAC CD-W524E for considerably less than the Yamaha.

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)   
Sony CRX175M/C1 (24X/10X/40X)
0 
3.3 
5.6 
Yamaha CRW3200EZ (24X/10X/40X)
2.5 
2.7 
6.6 
TEAC CD-W524E (24X/10X/40X)
2.7 
3.2 
8.9 
 
Audio extraction tests
Time, in minutes, to extract a 26-minute, 58-second audio track (shorter bars indicate better performance)

TEAC CD-W524E (24X/10X/40X)
1.0 
Yamaha CRW3200EZ (24X/10X/40X)
1.6 
Sony CRX175M/C1 (24X/10X/40X)
1.8 
 
Read tests
Time, in minutes, to install Microsoft Office 2000 Small Business Edition (shorter bars indicate better performance)

TEAC CD-W524E (24X/10X/40X)
1.8 
Yamaha CRW3200EZ (24X/10X/40X)
1.9 
Sony CRX175M/C1 (24X/10X/40X)
3.4 
 
For straight data burns, the Yamaha leaves most other drives in the dust. It burned a 500MB data CD in 2 minutes, 42 seconds--at least half a minute faster than nearly all other drives in the 24X/10X/40X camp. It also placed at the very top of the heap in regular read tests, thanks in part to the Yamaha's spacious 8MB buffer. In the packet-writing test, the drive slowed to the middle of the pack, copying 400MB onto a rewritable disc in 6 minutes, 36 seconds. Oddly, its audio extraction was significantly slower than that of most of its competitors; taking 1 minute, 36 seconds to extract 27 minutes of audio, it lagged behind the bargain-priced TEAC CD-W524E by half a minute.

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