The names that come to mind when you think about CD-RW drives are most likely Yamaha, Plextor, Sony and Philips. While I’ve tested a variety of drives made by these firms, the MP7080A Media Master is the first CD-RW drive I’ve tested from Ricoh.
Ricoh is not a household name like Sony and Philips, and some of my tech buddies did not even know Ricoh made CD-RW drives. This is ironic when you realize that the company was the first manufacturer to sell a rewriteable disc drive. Ricoh is also a major OEM of drives and holds several patents related to CD-RW drives and recordable media. The company’s experience and technology roots are certainly evident in its Media Master line of CD-RW drives.
The new MP7080A is a high-performance IDE CD-RW drive that is quiet, fast and offers 8X CD-R speed, 4X CD-RW speed and reads CDs at speeds up to 32X. It comes with a standard software bundle featuring Easy CD Creator and DirectCD from Adaptec. Because the MP7080A is an IDE-based drive, it installs easily without the need for any additional hardware.
I tested the MP7080A with both low- and high-end systems. The slower Windows 98 system featured an Intel TC430HX motherboard, AMD K6-2 400 CPU, 64 MB memory and a 7,200-RPM Maxtor hard drive. The faster Windows NT system featured an ASUS K7V-RM motherboard, AMD Athlon 1 GHz CPU, 384 MB memory and two Quantum Atlas hard drives in a RAID configuration.
For CD mastering, I used both Easy CD Creator and Sonic Foundry’s CD Architect. For blank media I used both standard TDK discs and the new 80-minute Platinum discs from Ricoh – which are now, by the way, my blank CD-R media of choice.
The slower system had a hard time keeping up with this drive for both digital audio extraction and CD burning. Despite repeated attempts, I was not able to burn successfully at 8X speeds using Easy CD Creator. Attempts with MP3 files resulted in buffer under runs. Using CD Architect, however, I successfully made several CDs at the maximum 8X speed.
The 7080 performed much better in the high-end system. The ASUS motherboard supports Ultra 66 IDE speeds, so moving data to and from the 7080 can be done at maximum speed. The system was easily able to perform other computing tasks while CDs were being made. Digital audio extraction performance was excellent and on par with even the fastest SCSI-based CD-R drives, such as the Plextor UltraPlex 40 Max.
When burning the special 700 MB or 80-minute blank CDs, Easy CD Creator reported “errors by the output device.” Upon further inspection, however, the CDs played just fine and everything sounded great.
The Ricoh drive not only performs well but is also an acoustic treat that makes virtually no noise. The advanced design allows for cooler operation and does not require a fan, which makes for less white noise emanating from your system – and that’s always a good thing.
The MP7080A does everything well. It functions as a high-performance CD-ROM drive and can burn with the best of them. The only downside is the lack of support for professional packages like CD Architect running on NT. And that may be enough to cause some folks to look elsewhere. But for Windows 98 users, the $239 price tag makes this a CD-RW drive that’s hard to pass up.
Contact: 714-566-2500 or Reader Service 198.