Toshiba is well known in the DVD camp, but it has not ventured into the CD writing camp until now. In fact, the company has brought out a revolutionary new combination product that has a lot going for it. The SD-R1002, more affectionately known as the Combo, is not only a CD-RW drive, but also a DVD-ROM in the same unit. Using an advanced high performance pick-up head that incorporates two laser diodes, it can read DVD and read and write CD-R and CD-RW media.
The SD-R1002 can write to CD-R media at 4x, re-write at 4x and read CD data at up to 24x. So, a full 650Mb CD-R can be written in under 20 minutes. With a 2Mb buffer, writing should happen without any hitches.
In terms of DVD read speed the Combo is billed as a 4x, but in fact the real specification is 4.9x. The full retail kit aims to provide a complete solution, and to this end, everything you need to install and use the Combo is included. Cables, screws, a manual eject pin, CD-R and CD-RW media and even a CD labelling pen.
Also included is an equally comprehensive software bundle. CD Writing software presents itself in the form of the competent VOB Instant CD. InterVideo WinDVD 2000 provides software DVD decoding, and providing your PC is equipped with at least a Pentium II 350MHz processor, you can expect smooth movie playback.
Other bonus software comprises the excellent VOB InstantMusic with which you can create CD quality tunes, and also MusicMatch audio player, an easy to use CD and MP3 encoder and player.
Other benefits of having a combination drive are that it only takes up one 5.25" bay and one EIDE channel - handy if you are running short of bays and EIDE connectors. As the drive uses this common interface, it was easy to install into our test PC.
The results from our CD Tach 98 benchmark showed a read rate of 15.7x, the average across the disc - not a bad result from a 24x rated drive. Amazingly the random access time came out as 83ms, actually faster than Toshiba's claim of 110ms.
As DVD-ROM titles are starting to appear alongside movies, the drive's performance becomes more important. Again we see random access time is less than Toshiba claims - 24ms quicker than the quoted 160ms. On average the read speed was 3.2x, a little slower than we would have liked to see, but still fine for today's applications.