Yamaha CRW4416EZ

Introduction
It used to be that if you wanted reliable performance from a CD writer that only SCSI would do. While reasonably priced IDE devices hit the market in a flood, a great number produced little more than flashy drink coasters. Even the most minor of interruptions like a screensaver activating would often result in the entire write-process corrupting. With this in mind we took a good hard look at Yamaha's CRW4416EZ IDE CD-RW. Though it has been on the market for some little while now, pricing and availability have now come to a level where if the product performs as descibed, it would offer great value at an excellent price.
Packaging
The Yamaha CRW4416EZ comes nicely boxed with all of the cables and mounting hardware you'll need to get up and running. Two media disks ship with the drive - one CDR and one CD-RW. Yamaha also generously includes one of the best software bundles you'll find in a value priced CD-RW. Adaptec's Easy CD Creator is pretty much standard with any CDR/CD-RW drive, supports data, audio, mixed mode, video CD and CD Extra formats and allows you to copy music or data and record to virtually any CD format, backup important files using the "Windows Explorer" interface or compile your favorite music from your own LPs, cassettes and other sources. 

What you'll find in the box!

Also included is Adaptec's DirectCD that makes Yamaha CD-RW as easy to use as a hard disk. Drag and drop, rename, and delete files and create new directories right on a CD-R or CD-RW disc. You can even save files from your word processor, spreadsheet or other application directly to CD. Yamaha includes CD Stomper CD Labeling Software which includes a label applicator and software - with interactive templates and clip art to help you create professional-looking labels on your laser or inkjet printer. Add to this Adobe PhotoDeluxe Business Ed. A simplified image editing application that can import and enhance photos for print and the web and quickly produce professional marketing materials and Adobe PageMill with which you can create full-featured Web pages in a WYSIWYG interface without having to know a thing about HTML or URLs.

Setup & Features
As to the physical installation of the CRW4416EZ the drive sets up as easily as any CD-ROM drive. Determining the best way to configure the drive is another story. Since the Yamaha CRW4416EZ is an IDE drive the way you configure it will depend on your needs. What is most important is that you don't configure it as a slave on the same IDE channel as your hard drive. Even with the large 2MB buffer your results could tend toward disaster if you are copying large files from your hard drive in this configuration. If you plan on copying other CDs a lot you won't want it on the same channel as your other CD-ROM drive. This too could lead to disaster. With the software included you can copy CDs directly using only your CRW4416EZ but don't expect great results for audio CDs. 

These configuration difficulties are what make SCSI drives so attractive. I found that I got the best and most usable configuration setting the CD-RW as the master device on the secondary IDE channel with my DVD drive set as slave to the hard drive on the Primary IDE channel. Since I also use an internal LS120 drive that had to be set to slave on the secondary IDE channel. One of the most interesting features of the 4416EZ is its incorporated fan at the back of the drive. This provides the drive with enough air-flow to significantly reduce the heat produced when writing to the device. Earlier CD-RWs that we've seen create an awful lot of heat and in an overclocked system this is always detrimental.

Yamaha CRW4416EZ Specifications

Software Compatibility Windows 95/98/NT 4.x
Included Software (PC) Easy-CD Creator, DirectCD, Adobe Photo Deluxe BE, Adobe Page Mill 3.0
Type Internal
Read/Write/Re-Write Speed Read 16x/ Write 4x/ Re-Write 4x
Interface E-IDE
Buffer Size 2MB
Capacity 1.2m/sec: 666MB, 1.4m/sec: 540MB
Access Speed 160ms
Package includes Mounting hardware, audio cable, quick start guide, blank CD-R and CD-RW discs, E-IDE ribbon connector cable, software
UPC Code 0-86792-27517-8
Recording Modes Session at once, packet writing, disc-at once, track-at-once, multisession
Formats Supported CD-ROM, CD-ROMXA (both PhotoCD and Video CD), CD-I, CD-Digital, Audio, CD-Extra and Video CD (requires a sound card and sufficient available hard drive space).
Dimensions (W x H x D) 5.8" x 1.6" x 8"

Performance
As a CD-ROM the CRW4416EZ leaves a little to be desired. While the stated parameters call for 16X performance you'll find that the drive actually performs under most circumstances at about 10X. 

Aside from that the performance is most excellent. 600MB+ CDs can be written and rewritten at full 4X performance levels and most often take between 12-15 minutes to complete. Also, unlike the majority of IDE CD-RWs, this Yamaha drive can actually provide exceptional results while working in the background. This is not to say that you'll be playing Half-Life and burning audio CDs in the background but I had no difficulty actually writing this review while rewriting a data CD. The CRW4416's large 2MB cache is no doubt mainly responsible for this.

Conclusion
Yamaha has produced a fine and effective component in the CRW4416EZ and all at a very attractive price. If you are going to be doing a lot of copying of audio CDs I'd still recommend going with SCSI but for normal home or office backup use this drive is just fine. A great software bundle and the ability to flash update device firmware as well as stable fast performance make the Yamaha CRW4416EZ a drive you'll get lots of use out of with a minimum of fuss. Highly Recommended!

To find out more about this and other fine hardware components from Yamaha, check out their web site at http://www.yamaha.com  

 
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