Sony Corporation is well-known as a leading manufacturer of a wide array of audio and video technologies worldwide. To give you an idea of just how diverse the company is, there are eight principal operations in the corporation, including music entertainment, pictures entertainment, and electronics. Their optical drives are manufactured by the component company of the Media & Components Group under the Electronics Division. Simply navigating Sony's Outline of Principal Operations in search of their CD rewriters can be a daunting task.
Sony's Spressa line of internal CD-RW drives includes a "value" ATAPI model (8X/4X/32X), a professional SCSI model (10X/4X/32X), and a professional ATAPI model (12X/8X/32X). In this review, we'll take a look at the professional ATAPI unit (CRX160E). Featuring 12X writes, 8X rewrites, and 32X max reads, the CRX160E on paper matches up well with today's top burners excepting only the rewrite category, where the competition has reached 10X. Random accesses are spec'd at 150 ms and Sony includes a 4 MB buffer. Unlike the latest burners from many competitors, the CRX160E does not include any buffer underrun prevention technology. A standard analog CD audio-out (no digital out) and a 1-year warranty round out the vitals. To see the rest of the specs, click here.
System requirements, as specified by Sony on the packaging, include a 400 Mhz Pentium II and 32 MB of RAM and a bus-mastering EIDE connection. Interestingly, the product page on Sony's website lists a minimum processor speed of only 233 Mhz. Our optical testbed remains at 450 Mhz.
Included in the retail box is a software CD-ROM, one blank Sony 12X CD-R, one blank Sony 4X-10X CD-RW, an IDE cable, audio cable, mounting hardware, Quick Start Guide, and a detailed drive manual. No printed manuals accompany the software, which is simply covered in the Quick Start Guide and the Help menus within each program.
The software suite consists primarily of CD Extreme (which looks suspiciously like Prassi's PrimoCD Plus) and abCD (packet-writing software). Unfortunately, abCD is only compatible with Win9x, while CD Extreme is compatible with all the major Microsoft operating systems. If you use NT or Win2K and plan on packet-writing, the software included with this drive won't cut it. You'll have to buy someone else's software (like Adaptec's DirectCD) to get the job done. Also included on the software CD are Retrospect Express (backup and disaster recovery), Mixman Studio, and Spressa Liquid Player. Mixman Studio is not compatible with NT or Win2k, while Spressa Liquid Player is not compatible with WinNT. For further details on the included software, click here.
How does this drive perform? Follow along as we investigate.