Re. Syquest vs. CD-R

Subject: Re. Syquest vs. CD-R
From: Geoff Hart <geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Tue, 2 May 1995 09:48:03 LCL

Charles Sides wrote to ask about whether to purchase a CD-R (recorder)
drive or a Syquest drive. Respect not intended, his colleague
obviously hasn't read a computer magazine in at least a year. The two
technologies serve very different purposes, and of the two, the
SyQuest is less flexible. Here's the short rundown:

SyQuest: Much faster than CD, thus a better choice for random access
(e.g., as a hard drive replacement). Also more common at service
bureaus (e.g., if you need to transport large documents for
typesetting or color separation). Rare at home or on corporate
desktops. Limited capacity (currently, 280? Meg uncompressed, up to
560 Meg compressed). Relatively cheap (about $700 for a Cadillac drive
plus cartridge). Can't create a CD from a single SyQuest.

CD-R: Very slow (at least an order of magnitude slower than a hard
drive). Relatively rare at service bureaus, but this is changing fast.
Common at home and on corporate desktops. High storage capacity,
currently 660 Meg uncompressed/1.3 Gigabytes compressed; as well,
three new formats are coming on the market that expand capacity to 2-4
Gig uncompressed. Relatively expensive (currently up to $3000 with
recording software), but prices are falling fast and street prices of
$1000 expected within a year. Can create multiple SyQuests from a
single CD.

If you've got the budget, the CD-R is the obvious choice. One note: If
you plan to record to a CD, you need an additional disk drive at least
as large as the CD itself, and most sources recommend a drive of at
least 1 Gigabyte with a fast transfer rate. The drive must also be
"AV" (audiovisual) rated, which means that its thermal recalibration
and other maintenance won't disrupt the steady stream of data to the
CD: any disruption will ruin the CD and make you start again. For the
same reason, you'll want to dedicate a PC to doing only the recording;
you can do whatever you want when not recording, but you don't want to
be running any other software in the background that might disrupt the
writing to the CD. (SyQuest advantage: as long as you don't crash the
PC, you can do several things at the same time as writing to the CD,
and the writes will take minutes rather than hours.)

Hope this helps. Drop me a line if you have any more detailed

--Geoff Hart #8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

Disclaimer: These comments are my own and don't represent the opinions
of the Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada.

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