Never before have such ambitious specs been announced in an optical drive: Not only must the MP9120A write at 12X, rewrite at 10X and read CDs at 32X max, but it must also read DVDs at 8X max. Top it off with 32X max DAE, buffer underrun prevention technology and access times of 100ms and eyebrows are bound to be raised. For our part, we were very skeptical that all would function as advertised. Much to our delight, though, the MP9120A did as advertised in nearly every situation. Only in digital audio extraction were we disappointed with its performance. If you require fast DAE, this drive is probably not for you.
The retail packaging of this drive is quite satisfactory as well, though not quite as impressive as Plextor's, which includes the Plextor Manager 2000 software suite. We found it odd, in particular, that Ricoh included mounting screws and an audio cable, but no IDE cable. Just about every ATAPI drive we've ever seen includes an IDE cable. Prassi's PrimoCD Plus is quite capable as a CD mastering software suite, but we don't like that abCD (the included packet-writing software) is only compatible with Win9x. Since my personal system uses Win2k, I could not test abCD out because of this limitation. The included DVD software, WinDVD 2000, has a very attractive interface, but would not read our dual-layer DVD, The Matrix. Hopefully InterVideo will address this problem shortly.
Finally, with online pricing varying between $315 and $340, the drive is about the same cost as Plextor's retail 12/4/32 SCSI burner. For the same price, you get faster rewrites, 8X DVD, buffer underrun prevention technology, and swifter access times (and therefore, CD read performance). What you don't get is an in-house developed software suite like Plextor provides, or the real-life DAE performance that Plextor is legendary for. Both drives are excellent for what they do, but we feel the Ricoh is the better value in this particular comparison. If you're in the market for a burner and DVD-ROM drive and your interface of choice is IDE, Ricoh's MP9120A is an excellent option.