Que! Fire CDRW Drive, by QPS
Posted: 3-July-2001

5 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: QPS Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: HARDWARE

The Que! Fire CDRW drives are a line of stylish and speedy external firewire CDRW drives from QPS. The drives come in 8x4x32, 12x10x32, 16x10x40 and 24x10x40 speeds. This review was done on the 16x10x32 CDRW drive.

As appears to be the norm for QPS, this drive is impressively packaged. It comes with a stylish black carrying bag, complete with all the pockets and Velcro flaps needed to store the CDRW drive, the software, power supply, cables, and a few other extras. It's the perfect setup for making this drive as portable as ever.

Besides the carrying bag, this drive comes with a universal power supply adapter, power cable, firewire IEEE 1394 cable, carrying strap, user's manual, CDR and CDRW media, and the installation CD. On the CD, there is Easy CD Creator and Direct CD for the PC, and Toast for the Macintosh. This review will be based upon a Mac installation.

Hooking the drive up and installing the software was a breeze. I plugged the power cable into the power adapter, and the adapter into the CDRW drive. I then used the firewire cable to connect an external firewire hard drive to the CDRW drive. After installing Roxio's Toast software, I was up and burning CDs immediately.

The drive itself is gorgeous. It comes in a see-through casing, true to the iMac design, in a dual-tone design of frost and graphite (see picture above). The front of the drive has a tray eject button and a power light on the right side, and a headphone jack and volume control on the left. In the middle is a status light which lights up when the drive is in use. On the back of the drive is a power hookup, an on/off switch, and two firewire ports (to allow daisy chaining).

In operation, this drive is quiet, yet fast, due to both the excellent design of the drive as well as the firewire support. The drive comes with Roxio (previously Adaptec) Toast version 4.1.2. The software is extremely simple to use, and supports three kinds of burning techniques: Disk Copy, Audio CDs, and Files and Folders.

I ran several tests on the drive to test the software's functionality. First I did a complete Disk Copy, copying a 553 MB CD onto a CDR at 12x speed. The copy completed perfectly in 6 minutes. At the end of the copy it provides an option to verify the copy or eject the CD. Normally I just eject the CD, but the option to verify is there if you need it (and if you let the prompt timeout, it will actually perform the verify automatically). I did a second Disk Copy operation on a CD of 129MB, again at 12x speed, and the CDRW burnt the disk and had it ready in two minutes.

Toast's Audio CD format allows you to drag and drop AIFF or MP3 files right into the Audio window, and allows you to reorder, play and even query the CDDB on the fly. I created a song list of 18 different songs, a mixture of MP3's and AIFF's. Unintentionally, I include an MP3 file which was corrupted. Version 4.1.2 of the software did not understand the error which it triggered, and aborted the copy with "Error -9377". On a subsequent try, it aborted with "Error -9380". New versions of the software may actually translate these particular codes into useful text, but eventually I was able to determine the corruption problem with the MP3. After fixing the MP3, the Audio CD burnt in 10 minutes (nearly filling all 80 minutes of the CDR capacity).

The above incident taught me to use the "Simulation" mode in times where I was unsure about what I was copying. Why is this important? Because the above aborts were not in simulation mode, and therefore the CDR media which I was using when it errored out on me was wasted (partially written to, and unable to write to again). In Simulation mode, the CDRW performs the copy operations without actually burning anything onto the disk. This allows you to verify that the data you are copying to can be copied successfully before actually risking the loss of a CDR.

Another option that Toast offers is the "Buffer Underrun Prevention". By checking this option on, this prevents errors caused from copying at 16x speeds onto media which cannot handle that speed (all of my CDRs are 12x speeds). Without this option checked, I tried burning at 16x speed and received the Buffer Underrun error. I then checked the option, and the CDR copied without any problems (Toast automatically adjusting to the speed of the slower medium).

My final test was choosing the "Files and Folders" option of Toast, and I dragged a folder containing 559 files onto the Toast window (total of 397 MB of data). The copy completed in 5 minutes. One thing in all the tests is that this version of Toast hogs all of the CPU (i.e., you cannot do anything else while a CD is burning). The solution to that is to purchase Toast 5 Titanium from Roxio, the next major upgrade of the software that does not hog all of the CPU.

In summary, this is an immaculate CDRW drive, both in terms of style as well as functionality. Great color and design, with it's corners and edges all rounded, and it runs cool, quiet and very fast. If you have firewire ports on your Mac, I highly recommend this CDRW drive. It works just as great with the firewire ports of your 3rd party add-on firewire card as it does with firewire ports of Apple's built-in firewire. If you are looking for a bargain price, however, you may want to look for some cheaper CDRW units, as this unit carries a list price of $399.99 (at the time of this review, available at Amazon.com for $305.94). Be careful bargain hunting, though, because you may get what you pay for. This CDRW firewire unit is a top-of-the-line rock solid CDRW drive, so if you can afford the price, get it.

Drive Features:

  • 1x, 2x, 4x, 8x, 12x and 16x Write speeds
  • 1x, 2x, 4x, 8x and 10x ReWrite speeds
  • 1x - 40x Read speeds
  • 700 MB data storage capacity
  • 80min audio storage capacity
  • Up to 4.8 MB/sec data transfer rate
  • Average CD access time of 140ms
  • Single/Multi-session Photo-CD compatible
  • 2 MB buffer size
  • Firewire 1394 interface
  • Reads & Writes HIGH SIERRA, ISO 9660 and Audio formats
  • Writing method: DAO (Disk At Once), TAO (Track At Once), SAO (Session At Once), Packet Writing (Variable, Fixed Packet)
  • Stereo audio reproduction function with headphone jack and volume control
  • High system reliability using Advanced CIRC Error Correction
  • Warranty - 1 year warranty
  • Dimensions (HxWxL) / Weight - 67 mm x 200 mm x 248 mm / 1.2 kg (2.64 lbs)


PROS:

  • Gorgeous design
  • 2 firewire ports for daisy chaining
  • Extremely fast burn speeds
  • Great CD burning software


CONS:

  • High price tag
  • Software hogs CPU during burns


As much as I would have like to have seen this package come with Toast 5 Titanium to offset the "con" of hogging the CPU, I am still inclined to give this unit a 5 out of 5 rating. It's that impressive.

Overall Rating

5 out of 5 Mice