The evaluation unit we received was based on the retail version and at a glance, the 52x24x52x looks no different from previous Lite-On CD-RW drives - if not for the 52x24x52x marking. In fact, Lite-On have been sticking to the same faceplate since their 24x10x40x series. Bundled within the box, Lite-On have stocked up the usual fare as well. Included is a Nero Burning ROM software and accessories such as audio cable and screws. We also found a Lite-On brand 24x CD-RW media and an unrated Lite-On CD-R disc. Our guess is that this unrated disc should be 52x-rated, and we'll just see how far it can go in our benchmarks later.
Our standard Mitsubishi 24x CD-RW media, which we used for all of our ultra-speed CD-RW drives.
Our Lite-On 52x evaluation sample was quite fresh off the oven.
Full Constant Angular Velocity (CAV)
The CD-RW and CD-R media as bundled with the drive.
Like many 48x CD-RW drives, the Lite-On 52x also adopts the Full CAV writing strategy in order to have a fine balance between high-quality and fast-speed recordings. For those who haven't read my past CD-RW reviews, Full CAV works by maintaining a constant rotation speed from the beginning of the recording process, from the inner tracks of the disc, all the way to the tracks at the outer edge. Like those we have seen from Plextor and TDK, the Lite-On 52x24x52x also adopts the Full CAV method when writing at 52x.
Anything below 52x, we are not exactly sure which writing strategy it would use as Lite-On did not supply us with the specifications. But guessing from previous Lite-On drives, one could assume that anything below 48x would adopt the Partial CAV writing methodology while anything lower than 24x could be CLV. We are not sure, but will update once we get the exact info direct from the horse's mouth.
SMART-BURN Buffer-underrun Protection
Featuring SMART-BURN (or Smart Monitoring & Adapting Recording Technology for BURNing) technology to prevent buffer-underrun errors, the Lite-On drive is intelligent enough to know how to resume from the point it stopped burning due to buffer under-running. In addition to that, SMART-X (Smart Monitoring & Adjusting Read-speed Technology for Extraction) is an optimum write speed control feature that checks the media's highest speed capability before deciding what speed it should write on the media, so as to produce the maximum quality result. As with all drives that uses SMART-BURN, there is no way to turn off SMART-X.
We won't go too deep into explaining the complexities of Mount-Rainier. Basically, Mt. Rainier works just like any packet-writing programs. Except that with Mt. Rainier, it's possible to write and read from a brand new CD-RW disc within one minute, eliminating the formatting delays and the need for third party software. Here's the official statement on Mt. Rainier -
[quote]Mount Rainier enables native OS support of data storage on CD-RW. This makes the technology far easier to use and allows the replacement of the floppy. This is done by having defect management in the drive, by making the drive 2k addressable, by using background formatting, and by standardizing both command set and physical layout. The new standard is promoted by Compaq, Microsoft, Philips, and Sony and is supported by over 40 industry leaders: OS vendors, PC-OEMs, ISVs, chip makers, and media manufacturers.[/quote]