Pioneer DVD-303S - Firmware revision 1.10:
From Pioneer New Media Technologies, Inc. comes one of the fastest-rated SCSI DVD-ROM drives currently available, the DVD-303S. Rated at 6X DVD, 32X CD-ROM, Pioneer specifies a speedy 80ms access time, with a rather large 512kb buffer and a standard 1-year warranty.
As you'd expect from a drive that reads only up to 32X, noise levels were quite low for our test unit. Seeks were very soft and while full-rpm sounds were audible, they were definitely on the low side. During stress testing, our unit was just slightly warm to the touch after extended use; again, to be expected for the comparatively low RPM. Pioneer installs only a standard 4-pin analog audio out.
Toshiba SD-M1212 - Firmware revision 1R14:
Toshiba brings us the SD-M1212, a previous-generation ATAPI DVD-ROM drive from their lineup, with 6X DVD speeds and 32X CD-ROM speeds (their newest DVD offering does 12X DVD and 40X CD-ROM). Toshiba specs this unit slightly slower than the Pioneer, with 85ms access times and a 256kb buffer. The SD-M1212 is protected by a standard 1-year warranty.
Running the Toshiba through our access time stress tests, we noticed that it was slightly louder than the Pioneer. Seeks were muted, but the noise and vibration accompanying high-rpm operations were a bit more audible. Like the Pioneer, the SD-M1212 was only slightly warm after extended testing. Toshiba has, however snuck in a CD-digital line-out. Although they only list analog audio-out in their spec sheet, there is an unlabeled 2-pin connector next to the standard 4-pin analog connector, which, when tested with our SB Live! proved functional. While we cannot guarantee that other units will also grant this "secret toy surprise," we were nonetheless pleasantly surprised with this undocumented feature of our test unit.
CD-ROM Performance Results...