Computers: Disk technology that puts a new spin on computing

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The Independent Online
PEOPLE who buy PC-compatible computers always look at those of us who followed the Apple Macintosh route and say: 'Nice, but isn't it expensive?' Then when summer rain forces them to invest in a CD-rom drive, they rapidly change their minds, writes David Hewson.

To hang a CD-rom off an average PC involves a baffling array of iEnterfaces, sound cards, loudspeakers and switch juggling that wiTHER write errorll probably set you back pounds 400 and may still go off half-cock. With the Mac, you just buy an Apple-compatible drive, and plug it in. Sound and all the interfaces come with the basic machine.

First, though, you need to find your drive. Apple's latest offering, the CD300, is fast and competitively priced at pounds 323 including VAT. Unfortunately it can also be hard to find. After shopping around I plumped on the alternative NEC CDR-38 which was a little more expensive - pounds 351 including VAT - but just as fast and a lot smaller. It can also be attached to a PC.

There is a glut of cheaper, older CD drives around, but be wary of them. The best drives, such as NEC's 'multispin' family, can spin the disk at 600rpm, twice that of a normal audio CD and will be compatible with the Kodak Photo CD, to allow you to go to Boots and get your holiday snaps developed on to computer disk for viewing on your computer.

NEC publishes an excellent free explanatory leaflet on using CD-rom: 0345 300103 (local rate call).

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