SmartDisk FireWire 16x10x24 Portable CD-R/W Burner

SmartDisk FireWire 16x10x24 Portable CD-R/W Burner
Company: SmartDisk Corporation

Price: $249.99 MSRP

When I noticed this product on the shelf at the rear of Apple’s new Los Angles retail store my heart skipped a beat, literally. SmartDisk promised us an early review unit, but due to personnel changes at their headquarters we had to wait until now to get our hands on it.

The shipping carton from SmartDisk was so lightweight I thought they must have forgotten to include the product, but its petite box was inside, as promised. You can read all the specs on this stylish CD-R/W unit at:

Accessories include only a QuickStart card, ToastLite 5.1.3 installer and product manual CD, plus FireWire cable.

Having Toast already installed on my traditional 400MHz iMac DV, I plugged the bus-powered burner into computer. Hey Ñ what’s that little input hole on the right side, and why is there a power socket on the rear but no power cable included? What about the second FireWire port? We’ll find out soon, I expect.

Pressing the oblong button on front of the SmartDisk drive, its media drawer popped open gently. After inserting a pre-recorded music CD to test for playback, a tiny LED on the unit’s front blinked to show all was proceeding as it should.

With VERY QUIET operation from this FireWire drive, the CD mounted on my OS 9 desktop. Music played just fine, and the disc ejected via standard procedure: Put Away command and/or Eject command/key.

SmartDisk’s CD contains a manual in Adobe Acrobat Reader PDF format. I learned about: the minuscule emergency eject hub, which I tested; an optional AC adapter for daisy chaining FireWire products; and the company’s comprehensive email, web, and phone tech support system. What about that hole on the right side?

Duping a data disk worked great, but only at a max of 10x. Huh? ToastLite audio CD creation topped out at 8x. What’s up?

Tim from Smart Disk explained:

  • Data burns will work at 16x when CD-R blanks are not defective; mine was during initial testing! A fresh CD-R burned like a champ at 16x.
  • Audio burns from HARD DRIVE to CD-R can happen at 16x, but it is best not to burn music disc-to-disc at a speed greater than 8x.I accept that explanation and minor inconvenience.

    SmartDisk products are known for innovation, performance, small size and weight, versatility, and durability. This FireWire CD-R/W delivers on every count except the last. Without subjecting the burner to physical damage, I have a hunch it’s not a rugged piece of equipment. Should we be concerned?

    There are not yet many competing products of this type at any price, so its cost is reasonable for users who require absolute portability and who can protect their precious burner from abuse and harm. I hope SmartDisk can support the demands of all purchasers.

    Using their FireWire CD-R/W for a range of audio and data burns during the past three weeks, I don’t choose it over my powered TDK Velo reference unit for at-home desktop use. But when helping a home/office client or doing a product demo, SmartDisk’s drive serves my needs very well.

    Nemo’s “Q/D/S/V Standard” for all product reviews:

    Q = QUALITY, including ease of installation, performance, stability, and general happy relationship with everything on my system;

    D = DOCUMENTATION, both printed and electronic, plus appropriate website material;

    S = SUPPORT, in the form of email, phone, and web updates;

    V = VALUE, which includes both original cost and subsequent expenses.

    Our rating is subjective, depending on your situation, falling somewhere between:

    MacMice Rating: 3 out of 5
    Shows promise! Could be better, but a product worth watching.
    … and …
    MacMice Rating: 4 out of 5
    A very decent product. Worth the time and investment, but look for competing products.

    John Nemerovski

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