sure, they're sold for backup and storage purposes, but let's be frank. The real reason people buy CD-RW drivers -- or CD burners -- is to copy music.
What was once a vaguely illicit practice frowned upon by those who preferred their records in more conventional formats is now, for better or worse, an established part of the music industry. There are even scans available online of official-looking record covers so you don't have to do without the artwork when you burn your fave CD.
With Napster set to go offline at any moment, there's never been a better time to get a CD burner and start clearing space on your hard drive.
The range of choices, for both Mac and PC users, is remarkably wide, with Apple now even including CD-RW drives in its new G4 tower. Here are a few starting points. Happy burning.
LaCIE CD-RW $399-$599
SCSI, USB and FireWire-ready, LaCie's external CD burners are known for their hassle-free operation. Essentially, you plug it in and start burning. Of particular note is the PocketDrive CD-RW -- small, portable and perfect if you're heading over to a pal's house to raid his or her collection. The LaCie drives don't look particularly attractive, just a grey box with a bit of blue, but you're not buying it for the looks, are you?
IOMEGA PREDATOR $400
If you are buying for looks, here's a good start. The dangerous-sounding Predator is made by the folks who brought us the fabulous Zip drive, and it looks more like a portable CD player than a clunky external drive, complete with a Dreamcast-style swirl on the lid. It opens from the top, not the front, and is currently available as a USB model, with a much-faster FireWire version set for release this fall.
HP CD-WRITER PLUS $350-$600
A no-frills burner from one of the more respected names in the business. It's an SCSI-only drive, PC-only and external, which means you can take it to work and use your office's high-speed Internet connection.
YAMAHA LIGHTSPEED $600
The aptly named Lightspeed bills itself as the fastest CD burner on the planet, working at a blinding 40x16x10 pace (read, write and rewrite speeds respectively). What this means is that the machine can burn the average 60-minute CD in under 2 minutes, more than twice as fast as your average burner. Pirating was never this fast.
QPS QUE! DVD-RAM $900www.qps-inc.com
If you're serious about burning CDs, why not just burn DVDs instead? QPS's external DVD-Ram drive isn't cheap, but it can put a staggering nine gigabytes of data, more than one entire 120-minute movie, onto a single disk. It's PC- and Mac-adaptable, and appeals to iMac users because it looks like a translucent blob and can be outfitted with different shells to fit your machine. *
The Beastie Boys were never very good at running a magazine, as the sporadic issues of Grand Royal go to show. They do know their records, though, which brings us here. Run with the folks at the great used shop Gimme Gimme, Rare Music Radio allows the B-Boys to spin their favourite rare records. There's plenty of funk, as well as liberal doses of afrobeat, soul and Uri Geller. More addictive than you can imagine.