PC World.com

WHAT’S HOT: Sony Corp.’s CRX175A/A1 performed with the best of the 24X-class drives we’ve seen. The drive’s time of four minutes, seven seconds for writing a 650MB folder of data to a CD-R is the fastest we’ve seen, beating our Best Buy, TDK 24/10/40 VeloCD ReWriter by five seconds. It also performed well in our digital audio extraction test and our CD-RW write tests.

Besides including BHA’s B’s Recorder Gold 3.01 and B’s Clip 2.29 for CD mastering and packet writing tasks, respectively, Sony bundles an unusually strong assortment of software: MusicMatch Jukebox 6.0, Dantz’s Retrospect Express for data backup, and ArcSoft’s PhotoBase and VideoImpression for imaging and video.

WHAT’S NOT: Sony’s documentation doesn’t describe the drive’s installation as thoroughly as it could.

WHAT ELSE: Sony includes a standard one-year warranty with the drive, ships a detailed user manual with the drive, and provides toll-free technical support for 12 hours daily on weekdays and Saturdays.

UPSHOT: Top-notch CD-R/RW write performance and an excellent software bundle earn this drive a spot on our chart; the drive is held back only by its unclear documentation.

Buying Information

24X/10X/40X, IDE, internal, 2MB buffer, buffer under-run protection, BHA B’s Recorder Gold 3.01 and B’s Clip 2.29, one-year warranty, 12-hour weekday and Saturday toll-free support.

Cost: US$159.99