Writeable drives offer options

Unlike other media like the cassette tape (and even the venerable eight track, R.I.P.) compact discs have always possessed a certain mystique that quietly said “you will never be able to make one of these yourself.” Recent advances and a competitive hardware market have changed all that, and today the purchase of a recording CD drive for your PC makes sense for a lot of home users.

Why record your own CDs? Unless you already have a zip or similar drive, CDs can provide a convenient and indestructible storage medium for both your data and program files. The big bonus with a CD is that you can also make your own custom audio CDs, featuring your favorite tunes (in the order you want them) for playback on your stereo system.

The new “CD-RW” (CD rewriteable) technology offers additional benefits, allowing you to record a disc an unlimited number of times if you like. And they can use not only CD-RW discs, but also CD-Rs and CD-ROMs to record material you know you don’t want to change.

Costs of the new CD-RW drives have plunged recently, with easy to install systems available in the $300-$400 range. For that investment, you can make a permanent backup of your system, make youown music CDs, and share large files (such as scanned photo albums) in a convenient format for family and friends. And speaking of eight tracks, people with priceless collections of LPs can convert their favorite music to CD format, by hooking up a turntable to their computer’s sound card and recording the results on a CD. So if you’re considering purchasing a tape drive backup device for your PC, think again. A CD-RW drive is a much more versatile tool that only costs a little more.