Articles: Storage

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Once again we return to the discussion of combo optical drives. Someone may think the subject is hackneyed and rather obsolete, since DVD-recorders now rule the market, but undemanding users who do not want to spend a hundred bucks for an optical drive may find a combo the most optimal choice. Even with all the disadvantages of this class of devices, you can find a worthy sample that would match the best CD-RW drives as well as DVD-ROM drives. It is to find such pearls among the crowd of available products that we keep on doing our tests.

The ranks of the manufacturers involved into production of optical combos are getting ever thinner, but the companies who do stay in the field have now more elbowroom. Today, I will discuss three new models from two manufacturers. The first of them, AOpen Inc., is active in every segment of the optical drive market and continues rolling out new combo models, too. The second manufacturer is Samsung, and I guess it needs no recommendations. This company may be better in some spheres and worse in others, but it always puts much effort into expanding and conquering new markets.

We all remember the story of Samsung’s hard disk drives. Once overtly low-end, slow and unreliable, hard disk drives from Samsung are now competitive against and even superior to the products of the world’s leading HDD makers. Why? Because there was a decision made somewhere in the entrails of the corporation – “we either start making good hard disk drives or focus on another market segment”. Considering the tremendous potential of the company, its ability to output good drives was never under a doubt. Added the desire, they were doomed to succeed.

Why are you reading this in a review of optical drives? You know, it’s all much the same in this market, too. Samsung seems to have decided to make good optical drives. The first step towards this goal was the alliance with a leader in this field, Toshiba. The establishment of their joint venture Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology (TSST) was the first signal that optical storage devices were among the current priorities of the Korean manufacturer. Soon we met new products from the new developer group – from antique “pure” CD-ROMs to fashionable multi-format DVD-recorders.

The sector of combo drives wasn’t left unattended, of course. In a short period, they rolled out two models – the Samsung SM-352N (that came to replace the Samsung SM-352B) and the newest model for today, the Samsung TS-H492A. The former of them came from the pen of Samsung and even the marking remained the same, but the latter was developed by the joint group of TSST engineers. The model’s marking changed, too, to indicate that it was not quite a Samsung. Of course, some users might want it to be “not a Samsung at all”, but don’t anticipate – you haven’t seen the test results yet. Samsung can surprise with its products, especially ones developed with the help of the mighty Toshiba.

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