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Home > Hardware Reviews > Optical Storage > 40x CD-RW

Friday, November 22, 2002
AOpen EHW4048U CD-RW

1. Installation/Package

AOpen EHW-4048U CD-RW - Page 1

- Introduction

Many manufacturers ship external drives mostly based at USB2.0 connection interface, since it offers increased portability among with easy installation. The EHW-4048U is a fast drive from AOpen that includes all the features that competition offers (40X writing, 12X re-writing, 48X reading) in a very attractive price. We compare it with other USB2.0 solutions in order to test whether the AOpen drive can stand the tough competition.

- Specifications

The AOpen CRW4048U uses the Z-CLV recording technology and the CAV for reading. The drive's features according to Nero Info Tool are the following:

The drive supports 48X maximum reading, 40X writing and 12X rewriting speeds. JustLink and JustSpeed technologies are present to prevent any buffer underrun problems and ensure the burning quality. The cache buffer is 2MB and reading of CD-Text and CD+G is also supported. Nero Info Tool reports that C2 error information is also retrieved by the drive but its accuracy will be examined later. Lastly the Mt. Rainier is not present, and probably won't be adopted with any future firmware upgrade.

As with previous AOpen drives, the default read speed is set to 40x. Pressing the Eject button for 5 sec will change the maximum read speed to 48X. At that time the operation LED will brink 2 times slowly. The drive will keep working at 48X until you reboot your computer. Below is the Nero Info Tool screenshot with the "Turbo" mode enabled. The drive's maximum speed is 48X:

- Recording/Rewriting speeds

The AOpen CRW4048U supports 40X with the use of Z-CLV recording technology. Below it's the Nero CD Speed writing graph that illustrates the use of Zone-CLV:

The 40x writing speed range is divided in 5 zones: The drive starts writing at 16X from the lead-in area till 4mins, shifts up to 20X at 5mins, accelerates 24X at 14mins, shifts up again to 32X at 32mins and lastly shifts to 40X at 56mins and stays there until the end. The average recording speed is 29.61X, as Nero CD Speed reports. The drive's Zone-CLV implementation gives slower average writing speed than some other 40X recorders.

- The package

We got the European retail version that includes: the drive, 40X CD-R media, 12X HS-RW media, a DC adapter and a USB2.0/1.1 cable. The attached software comes from Ahead (Nero Burning Rom, InCD). A printed manual in two languages that explains the basic installation and working facts is also bundled. The drive has been around for a while and can be found in a low price for less than $100.

Looking at the front panel, we can see the "JustLink/JustSpeed", "HS-RW", "AOpen" and "40X/12X/48X" logos printed on the tray. The external case of the drive is colored to white, but the front panel is light blue. The eject/next buttons, volume selector, and the headphone jack are also present, as usual in the E-IDE models.

The operation LED blinks differently according to the current operation of the drive. When you eject/close the disc tray or a disc is accessed, the LED lights to green. When a disc is just loaded and there is not any other operation, the light goes out. When audio playback is in progress, the indicator blinks. Inserting an illegal disc or when some hardware trouble has occurred makes the indicator blink quickly. Last, while writing a CD the led blinks to orange.

On the rear panel we will find the DC-in power connector, the Power ON/OFF switch, the Audio out jack and the USB2.0/1.1 connection interface.

On the top of the drive we can see the model's codename "EHW-4048U" among with the manufacturing date (July 2002):

After removing the screws on the button we can easily see the drive's internal design (attention this voids your warranty!).

Click To Enlarge!

The drive is built on RICOH and ESMT chipsets. The board design is similar to the CRW4850, making overclocking a possibility:

- Installation

The AOpen CRW4048U was connected through the bundled USB2.0 cable. The drive was recognized as "AOPEN CD-RW CRW4048". We used Nero v5.5.9.17, CloneCD v4.0.1.10 and Ahead InCD v3.51.61 for the recording tests. Within Nero, under drive properties you can disable "JustSpeed" to obtain the maximum burning speed (40X) with all the inserted CD-R media. The drive came with v1.03 firmware revision installed, but we used the newest v1.07 to complete the tests.

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