Afreey's fastest current DVD-ROM drive steps up with a decided disadvantage in DVD read speeds. At 12X, the drive faces stiff competition from 16X readers made by Artec and Pioneer. However, as a 40X CD reader, the Afreey specs in on par with the competition.
DVD read speeds tend to get inflated in some circles. Movie playback requires only 1X (1350 KB/sec) speeds. Speeds beyond 1X are of benefit mainly if you use the drive to read data DVDs. These typically include games, encyclopedia and mapping/atlas software. However, given the lack of data DVD availability (such software is typically not available through standard retail channels), SR places less emphasis on DVD read speeds. Most consumers look for a quick CD reader that can also play DVD movies.
Unfortunately, the Afreey also trails the competition as a CD reader. Its read speeds trail the 40X competition in most categories. Even Ricoh's MP9120A, a 32X reader, edges by the Afreey in disc copy tests.
Afreey's drive shines in digital audio extraction, with some of the fastest measured DAE for a DVD-ROM. Despite the strange DAE discrepancy between CDSpeed99 and CDDAE99, audio extraction performance and quality remain at or near the top of all DVD-ROMs we've tested.
In addition, the Afreey excels in areas of heat and noise. The drive's cool, quiet operation is sure to be valued by those used to the loud hum associated with much of the competition.
Lastly, while styling is a subjective matter, the unique faceplate is an attractive change of pace and the added functionality of the dual LEDs is quite useful.
In the end, consumers must weigh these matters through their personal preferences. Those interested in the fastest CD or DVD read performance should seriously consider the competition. Those more interested in unobtrusive operation, excellent DAE and unique styling should consider the Afreey. At a street price of $60, it's a compelling alternative to the pricier (but quicker) competition.