CD-R writer makes duplication a snap

If you are looking for a system that can write data to multiple CDs at a rapid clip, look no further.

MicroBoards Technology Inc.'s DSR 8800 CD-Recordable duplication station, a high-performance stand-alone CD-R tower featuring precision technology from Hoei Sangyo Co. Ltd., is perfect for government agencies trying to eliminate their reliance on paper documents.

Federal agencies are rapidly embracing CDs as their storage medium of choice. Electronic files cut down on paper waste and can pack a lot more data into a much smaller physical space. For example, architects at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., have made their work fully paperless, using CD-R writers to record all their drawings and using the Internet to ship electronic versions of their drawings to clients.

The DSR 8800 master unit features a 12/20X CD reader for CD-to-CD duplication, seven 4X CD recorders, three Versatile Media Interface (VMI) card slots, an LCD control panel and a switchable 115/230 volt power supply. Its list price is $5,495.

For mass recording, you can buy DSR 8800 slave modules, which provide an additional seven 4X recorders each, for $4,395 per unit. VMI cards, which enable you to connect slave units to the master unit, are included with the slave units.

If you just need to make copies of a CD, installation couldn't be easier because the DSR 8800 is a stand-alone unit. Once you remove it from the box and plug it in, you immediately can start copying with just the touch of a button. The DSR 8800's control panel is very easy to use, featuring a couple of simple buttons and a useful LCD display.

If you want to transfer data or write applications from a PC or Macintosh onto CD-Rs, the process is simple and only takes a few steps.

First you need to load one of the current software writing applications onto your computer. We used Adaptec Inc.'s offerings, which come in PC and Macintosh flavors. The PC version is called Easy CD Creator, and you need Version 3.5 or higher. For Macintosh systems, use Adaptec's Toast software, Version 3.5.5 or higher.

After loading the software, connect the DSR 8800 to the computer via a SCSI cable (not included). Then use the system modes settings on the DSR 8800's control panel to specify the SCSI location. After completing these steps, which take about 30 minutes, you're ready to transfer data straight from your computer onto CD-Rs.

MicroBoards also offers an optional pre-installed hard drive with the DSR 8800, and our test unit included one. The hard drive enables you to prerecord data before burning your first CD-R. It also can check for any errors in the reader or writer drives as well as determine the amount of writing space required for the task. The primary advantage of the hard drive, however, is increased data transfer speed. Whether writing from a CD or your PC, copying data to the hard drive first will enable you to burn CD-Rs at a much faster rate.

We copied 597M of data onto two CD-Rs simultaneously, and it took 17 minutes and 22 seconds. This may sound like a long time, but you can reduce the amount of time significantly if you bypass the data integrity check.

You can create up to 280 CD-Rs in the same amount of time it takes to create a single CD-R by linking 10 master units together - with three slave units linked to each master - for a total of 40 units, each of which copies seven CD-Rs.

The DSR 8800 supports Digital Video Disc recording. The VMI cards used to connect CD-R slave units to the DSR 8800 master unit also support up to two DVD-R recorders. However, you cannot combine CD-R recorders and DVD-R recorders in the same tower unit.

Overall, we really liked the functionality and simplicity of the DSR 8800. You can easily create and duplicate multiple professional CD-Rs in minutes. If you want to burn even more CD-Rs at faster speeds, take a look at the new DSR 8880, which features a 32X CD reader, eight 8X CD writers and the hard drive as a standard feature.

-- Lucas is a free-lance writer. He can be reached at shawnlucus@aol.com.

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DSR 8800MicroBoards Technology Inc.(800) 656-8881www.microboards.com

Price and Availability: The DSR 8800 master unit (without hard drive) has a list price of $5,495 and is available on the open market. The DSR 8800 slave unit, which includes a VMI card and seven 4X recorders, has a list price of $4,395.

Remarks: The DSR 8800 is an extremely easy duplicating system to use. This high-performance system copies CDs in minutes and includes many useful features.

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