The AOpen CRW3248 CD-RW burner

Wednesday, April 17, 2002


Today, we'll be conducting our third test of an AOpen CD-ROM/R/RW.

Our first such test involved the CRW1232, which has a write speed of 12X, and a 32X playback capability. We remember the CRW1232 well, because it did not support Just Link, or Burn Proof technologies at least in its original rendition because the second version of this device was supporting it.

Next came the CRW2440, which offered 24X write speeds, 10X re-write, and 40X playback. This time, AOpen included Just Link capabilities, which - much like "Burn Proof" - allows consecutive writing. The former, though, only needs to insert 2 micron-wide gaps between tracks, as opposed to the latter's 40 microns. AOpen also went the extra mile that time around, by including Just Speed tech, which helped optimize writing speed noticeably.

Today, it's the CRW3248 that we'll be analyzing. As its name indicated, the CRW3248 is capable of 32X writing speed, 48X playback, and 12X re-write. It also comes with the Just Link and Just Speed technologies- much like its predecessor - but adds to that a larger, 8MB buffer, a feature that will be appreciated by many users.

So, with all that in mind, it's time to get on with the review. But first, let's take a closer look at two of the CRW3248's more interesting technologies: Just Link, and Just Speed.

Just Link

Just Link is a technology that first made its debut in the AOpen CRW-1232. It's function is quite similar to that of Burn-Proof technology, but uses spaces of only 2 microns, as opposed to the 40 microns employed by the first version of the Burn Proof technology. Bear in mind that the newest rendition of the Burn Proof are now also using 2 microns gaps as an average like the Just Link technology. The following is a more complete description of the Just Link technology:

When users make use of their systems to accomplish any sort of task while it is in the process of burning a CD, there's always a chance that the CD-R or CD-RW's memory buffer will find itself unexpectedly empty. This could easily result if the system's hard disk drive is too occupied with other duties to supply the CD recorder with fresh data. Normally, the result would be a CD-ROM that hasn't been properly burned, and is useful as little more than a coaster.

To attack this problem, engineers have designed drives with large buffers capable of storing larger amounts of data, and technologies capable of making better use of the caches themselves.

Just Link is one example of such a technology. Its purpose is to constantly verify the supply of data within the buffer, in order to insure that there is enough data present to continue writing to disk. If there isn't writing is temporarily suspended, until the data begins flowing again. This can be done by inscribing small "checkpoints" in the disk to bridge the gap between one write-pass and the next. And, because the Just Link "bridges" are only 2 microns in size, they're completely imperceptible.

Just Speed

Just Speed technology is what allows the CRW3248 to prevent write errors when operating at high speeds (e.g. 16X or higher). When Just Speed is On, the drive will determine for itself - using calibration data about the medium detected - what the optimum write speed is. It will then use that determined speed when it writes to disk. This function can be changed via "Mode Command Select", and is set to a default value of Just Speed = On.

Suite: Specifications.