spent many a long evening sat here at
my desk wondering how PC peripheral
makers manage to make a profit in a
market that simply doesn't stay still
long enough for anyone to take a breath.
We all know how frantic the graphics
card market has become, but even markets
we've historically tended to think of
as quite uneventful are suddenly evolving
and changing at an almost frightening
rate. Take optical storage for example.
Apart from a relatively lean period
where drives seemed to have stalled
at 1x and 2x we then hit a spell where
it seemed faster drives were being introduced
every couple of weeks. I doubt that
those early days earned the manufacturers
any great profits either primarily due
to the palpitation inducing price tags.
If you've read my article on the "Fall
and Fall of PC Prices" you'll recognize
the picture below scanned from a magazine
that was dated 1996.
No, you're not seeing
things, that's £779 (+VAT) for
a 2x writer and a mere £5.50 each
for the blanks. Plus of course there
was no buffer underrun protection back
in those days which meant that sometimes
as many as one disk in three ended up
in the bin, a truly gut-wrenching prospect
at £5.50 a pop.
Nowadays things are very
different and we do tend to forget how
good we've got it (I'm starting to sound
like my grandfather here), but it's
true. Blanks can be bought for 20-30p
each and just about all the drives are
under the £100 and this doesn't
leave a lot of room for price maneuvering
when a manufacturer wants to get their
product noticed. Adding to the woes
is that fact that we've more or less
hit the physical limits for disk rotational
speeds. I doubt we're going to see anything
beyond 52x now, not because it can't
be done, but because the risk of CD's
failing under such high centrifugal
forces makes it too much of a gamble.
So, if manufacturers can't
go cheaper and they can't go faster
then how do they win your business?
Features, that's how!
The drive I have on test
today is one we've already looked at,
or at least the technology behind it
is. MSI's CR52 proved to be an excellent
optical drive with a ridiculous array
of features for its asking price. The
main differences between this particular
drive and the one we tested back in
March is that MSI have now added Mount
Rainier support and they've also
(as we then predicted) increased the
rewrite speeds to 32x. These are both
important developments that will make
it even harder to find fault with what
was already an excellent product, yet
surprisingly neither of these advances
are what makes the new CR52 so unique.
Let's do the specs:
absorbs shock and reduces vibrations, making
reading and writing of discs more accurate.
SoftBurn mechanism the writer generates
less noise when it operates, which helps
to build a silence PC.
The short body
shape enables convenient installation. This
also reserves more space inside a PC, helping
to decrease heat levels.
protection structure can avoid disc break-out
when running with a poor quality disc at
way to update drive firmware through Internet
under Windows® environment. The firmware
update helps increase the disc compatibility
and performance of the drive.