Pioneer DRM-600. (CD-ROM changer) (evaluation)
by Tony Roberts
Pioneer's DRM-600 CD-ROM changer can add volumes of data retrieval power to your system.
The shoebox-size DRM-600 holds up to six discs, inserted together in a special magazine. The configuration software gives each of these discs a drive name. You can switch to these discs, access information, and run programs just as you would from any ordinary disk. The only difference is that you can't write to the read-only RD ROMs.
Once the interface board is installed inside the PC, the drive itself is connected via the supplied SCSI cable. With only four feet of cable to work with, though, I had difficulty locating a spot to park the rather large DRM-600 while still leaving workspace on my desk.
Installation of the device drivers went smoothly, despite sketchy documentation. The set-up program is conscientious about documenting the changes it makes to startup files.
Once you've installed the DRM-600 CD-ROM changer, it's simple to operate. I found that the hardware worked without a hitch. Text searches were fast, and graphics screens drew quickly, though not seamlessly.
In addition to being useful as a computer drive, the Pioneer DRM-600 also plays audio CDs. The music brightened up our office, but the software to control the sound was inconvenient and poorly documented.
The DRM-600 includes a stereo earphone jack as well as RCA jacks so that output can be directed to a stereo amplifier. The drive package includes a set of RCA cables, but again, the short length required me to add my amplifier to an already crowded desk.
Two programs are provided to handle audio CDs. Multi-Play Control allows you to select discs or tracks to play, and once the music is underway, you can execute other programs on your PC Saddly, I found no way to program more than one musical selection at a time.
The other program, Juke, allows you to create tables of contents for your audio discs and to select a program of music that can include any or all tracks from any or all of the discs in a magazine. But, since Juke isn't a TSR, you can't exit and work with other software while the music plays. The brief documentation for both programs, unfortunately, doesn't fully explain the software.
Being able to insert as many as six discs is convenient, but the magazine that holds them is difficult to manage. The discs must be loaded upside down, which feels awkward and makes it impossible to read the labels.
The Pioneer DRM-600 is a sound piece of hardware. As a SCSl device, it can be daisy-chained with a second drive or other devices, and it's a good bet to remain compatible as the CD-ROM software and hardware evolve. Its great capacity makes it a candidate for networked environments where volumes of resource material could be made available to many users.