Chinon CDX-431. (CD-ROM drive) (evaluation)
by Peter Scisco
A solid performer from set up to shutdown, the Chinon CDX-432 opens the door to laser disc storage at a reasonable price.
This particular Chinon unit comes with the CD-ROM drive housed in a slim case, a CD caddy for loading your discs, a SCSI interface card, an interface cable, and software that includes Microsoft's CD-ROM extensions and the Chinon device driver.
Installation is straightforward and rather simple, provided you're comfortable opening up your computer's case. (If you aren't experienced in this area, ask someone to help you or take your PC to a local technician for assistance.)
Software installation is also easy. You can install either to your hard disk or to a second floppy disk. The setup program will copy the CDX-431 device driver and Microsoft extensions to the directory of your choosing.
In addition to its CD-ROM capability, the CDX-431 gives you the ability to play audio CDs y means of its CDPLAY program, After you invoke CDPLAY, you can program the player as you would a CD deck connected to your stereo. The CDX-431 includes audio jacks for connecting speakers (using standard RCA plugs) or for connecting the drive to a stereo system. There is also a headphone jack.
In several months of use, I had virtually no problems running the CDX-431, and those few problems I did encounter turned out to be related to various third-party CD-ROM applications and not to the hardware system.
I used the drive with a variety of text-based and graphics-based CDs. The caddy and loading mechanism worked smoothly and without any noticeable degradation in performance throughout my use of it. I was able to launch applications both from the DOS prompt and from with in GeoWorks Ensemble and Microsoft Windows. The CDX-431 offers 150-kilobytes-per-second continuous throughput, which makes it standard with what Bill Gates has defined as the minimal performance criterion for a multimedia CD device.
The company rates the disc's access time at 350 milliseconds, which is many times slower than that of a hard disk. But keep in mind that the advantage of CD-ROM technology isn't in the speed of the access; it's in the volumes of information available to you at any one time and the potential for providing innovative means for presenting and using that information. This coming year may indeed be the year of the CD, as prices drop and manufacturers like Tandy, Sony, and Magnavox bring CD-ROM drives and CD-ROM-equipped computers to the consumer market.
Whether you want access to extensive databases, the ability to play the latest and most comprehensive entertainment and education programs, or the pleasure of playing audio CDs as you complete your office work, the CDX-431 will meet those needs.