Optical Storage Products Offering A Broader Array Of Choices
The ability to “burn” (i.e., write data onto) CDs and DVDs means that the insurance industry can now store information more quickly and easily, say the purveyors of optical storage technology.
Yamaha’s latest line of such products is the LightSpeed family of CD-RW drives that can record and rewrite on CDs, according to Steve Massinello, a spokesman for the manufacturer. Yamaha is located in Buena Park, Calif.
Massinello states that the speeds of the LightSpeed 2100 Series are 16X Write/10X ReWrite/40 XRead/40X Rip, while the 2200 Series, known as LightSpeed 2, are 20X Write/10X ReWrite/40X Read/40X Rip. (10X, for example, means 10 times the normal speed of a music CD. Rip is a program that enables the user to digitally copy songs off a CD into many different formats.)
The CRW2100EZ is one of the models in the 2100 series. Massinello explains that it is an internal drive, requiring installation in a computer’s tower.
While indicating that the internal drive is easy to install, he suggests that users unfamiliar or uneasy with computer technology may prefer an external drive such as the CRW2100SXZ or the CRW2100FXZ.
Massinello says that the SXZ model connects to the computer by way of a small computer systems interface (SCSI). Pronounced “scuzzy,” a SCSI is a high-speed interface that connects computers to devices such as hard drives, CD-ROM drives, floppy drives, tape drives, scanners and printers. “If you have a SCSI card, it’sbasically plug and play,” Massinello notes.
In contrast, the FWZ model utilizes an IEEE (Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers) FireWire, he says. “It’s a thick dedicated wire that goes from yourmotherboard to your disk burner,” he explains, adding that FireWire is a much faster interface. While a computer would need a card to facilitate FireWire, the interface has the capacity to “connect up to 63 devices in a tree-like daisy chain configuration and transmit data at up to 400 megabits per second,” according to Massinello.
He indicates that both the SXZ and FWX models come with a disk that walks the user through the setup. Alternatively, a user can either go to the menu at the top of the browser and click on “file” and then “help,” or call Yamaha for technical support.
Massinello suggests that the external drive may be suitable for small offices. But he said that a larger insurance company which has networked all of its computers to a central server or drive may do better with an internal writable CD drive.
He observes that larger companies usually have a computer dedicated to a data-storage system. “If you have a separate system to do that, you can just put a blank disk in, go to the central drive or server where you have the information you’d like to store and burn in right there. You would not tie up another computer,” Massinello says.
He touts the speed of the LightSpeed 2 models as particularly noteworthy. He says that those models are 20X drives, which can store up to 650 megabytes (MB) of data in four minutes. According to Massinello, 650MB is the equivalent of about 26,000 two- or three-page Microsoft Word documents. Consequently, “if you’re using graphs and Word files, you can store a lot of it very quickly,” he says.
The storage of photographs also presents no problem for the LightSpeed models, Massinello states. “You could store hundreds and hundreds of files on just one disk” with very little noticeable change in detail, he adds.
This storage capacity, ease of use, and instant access to backed up and archived data mean that precious space on a computer hard drive can be freed up, he observes.
The burnable CDs themselves can be stored for a long time, provided they are not subjected to extreme temperatures, Massinello says.
Fujitsu Computer Products of America, based in San Jose, Calif., has a full line of 1.3GB (gigabyte) and 640MB internal and external magneto-optical (MO) drives, says Dan G. Dalton, director, optical products, storage product management.
Dalton indicated that the MO drives feature interfaces such as USB, FireWire, and SCSI for easy installation and are fully rewritable. They also come with 3.5-inch, one-sided media that is “extremely reliable,” he says. The FCPA Web site states that the cartridges are “impervious to dust, magnets, moisture, and shock.”
Fujitsu’s MO drives are “fully backward compatible,” making all previous media capacities compatible with the new drives, Dalton states. He adds that users can read or write to 128, 230, 540, or 640MB, or to 1.3GB media on the latest drives.
Another feature of the MO drive is that it appears as a directory for removable storage in a user’s system. This makes storing products “as easy as moving files to the MO drive icon,” Dalton states.
He also indicates that if a user runs into trouble installing a Fujitsu MO drive, help is available at the www.fcpa.com Web site. For other problems, the Fujitsu technical support people can help the user.
In addition to selling the MO drives to original equipment manufacturers, Fujitsu sells directly to consumers. “We offer bare MO drives and DynaMO drivesa retail kit that includes software, drivers, cables and instructions that enable an end user to install and use the drive immediately,” Dalton explains. He also says that Fujitsu sells its products “through the distribution channel and online.”
Gerard Corbett, general manager of Hitachi America, Ltd. (HAL), which is headquartered in Brisbane, Calif., reports that HAL makes both DVD-ROMs and DVD-RAMs.
DVD-ROM is a read-only disk drive, while DVD-RAM is a read and write disk drive that can be used for storing data or even videos, he explained.
The DVD-RAM uses disks “the size of a standard CD,” but which hold “4.7GB per side of storage,” Corbett indicates, noting that the typical CD holds only 650MB. The disks used with the DVD-RAM are dual-sided.