Generation X – NEC Technologies’ MultiSpin 3X CD-ROM Reader drive – Hardware Review – Evaluation
Just when you thought it was safe to buy a double-speed CD-ROM drive, along comes NEC and its triple-speed MultiSpin 3X. With a 450K per second transfer rate and a 195 millisecond average access time for both the internal and external models, the MultiSpin 3X is clearly faster than most other CD-ROM drives on the market.
Overall, the 3X is excellent. NEC is the first company–and let’s hope it’s not the last–to add external controls that allow you to play regular audio CDs without the software required by most CD-ROM drives. The front of the unit sports play, pause, stop, repeat, next track, and previous track buttons, as well as a small LCD readout, volume control, and mini headphone jack.
Installing the 16-bit Future Domain or Adapter SCSI controller card (PCs only) goes smoothly, even when another SCSI card (such as one you might have connected to a peripheral like a scanner, tape backup unit, or hard disk) already resides in the system. The device driver for the unit takes up about 32K of memory. If you want to chain the NEC drive with your other SCSI devices, though, you’ll have to order a special cable from NEC or a cable manufacturer. (You can link up to seven peripherals to run off a single SCSI controller.) This is because the NEC drive attaches via a high-density SCSI-2 connector
Unfortunately, the SCSI card isn’t as smart as it could be. If the drive isn’t powered up during system bootup, the card won’t find it–prolonging the boot process–and it won’t load the requisite device drive. Also, if you reboot while playing an audio CD, the drive resets, forcing you to eject and reinsert the CD to continue playing it.
You’ll see most of the 3X’s performance advantage when loading large files, such as Kodak PhotoCD images. It’s substantially faster for this than a middle-of-the-road double-spin CD-ROM drive like the Texel DM-3024. You won’t notice as much of a difference when playing motion video files, because these files don’t take advantage of the triple-speed drive’s higher transfer rate.
At a street price of around $170 more than some of its double-spin competitors–and soon to be threatened from above by NEC’s own quadruple-speed MultiSpin 4X Pro, which is expected to be priced around $995–only you can decide if the MultiSpin 3X’s price is right for you.
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