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O'Dixion DG1-12X DigiCopier

Stephen F. Nathans


EMedia, March 2000
Copyright © Online Inc.


O'Dixion DG1-12X DigiCopier
synopsis: Limited media support doesn't diminish the achievement of the O'Dixion DigiCopier with a good disc match: 12X recording is nothing short of awesome. If you've got 6 minutes and 39 seconds to spare, you've got time to copy an entire 74-minute disc in the DigiCopier. Using Sanyo's new 12X CD-R, 4X CD-RW mechanism, and a TEAC 32X ROM drive, the DigiCopier boasts a handful of other handy functions, multiple recording speeds, verification, acting as an external PC recorder with the bundled Nero Burning ROM software, and yes, CD-RW. But what distinguishes the O'Dixion is the one thing it does very well: 12X disc-to-disc duplication, automatic for the people.

price: $1,299 (1,327 Euros)

O'Dixion
Z.Z. de la Sienne
50800 Villedieu-les-Poeles, France
++33 2 33 91 0550
Fax ++33 2 33 91 0550
http://www.odixion.com

Ahead Software gmbh
Im Stoeckmaedle 6
76307 Karlsbad, Germany
++49 724 891 1801
Fax ++49 724 891 188 8
http://www.ahead.de

In 1978, I was eight years old and pretty easy to impress. I doubted if I'd ever grow as tall as my towering, 5'6" cousin Eli; I thought the Ideal Sundry at the corner of 9th Street and Pettigrew made the best lemonade on the planet; and I believed the suburban legend that Mark Hamill had made Star Wars in one day, and had lain down and died that evening. But in March of that year, I witnessed a remarkable feat that still leaves me awestruck to this day. I was watching my hometown team, Duke University, play for the national college basketball championship. Sometime in the second half, Duke's Kenny Dennard, a big, gawky hick from King, North Carolina, stole the ball, thundered downcourt, and--finding himself unguarded--leapt in the air and did a reverse dunk. The crowd went wild, and--as a wonderful series of black and white still photos in the next day's Durham Morning Herald revealed--no one looked more surprised than Dennard himself.

Reverse dunks just weren't the kind of things you expected from clumsy overgrown white guys--especially in those pre-showtime days. In other words, it wasn't just the feat itself that blew me away; it was who did it. Which isn't to say I wasn't a huge Kenny Dennard fan before The Dunk; I was, and remain one to this day, even though to my knowledge he hasn't picked up a basketball in 15 years.

Similarly, for four years now I've been among CD-R's most dedicated and vocal supporters, even though it's been known to be logy, is often unreliable, can heat up like a city bus in heavy traffic, and has traditionally comported itself with all the grace and agility of a rhino with lactic acid build-up. But in the last 18 months, I've seen CD-R accomplish feats I would have once thought a country-mile beyond its ken. Most recently, thanks to O'Dixion--a French company still relatively unfamiliar to the American CD-R market--and its compact, Sanyo-based 12X DigiCopier, mine eyes have seen the glory of true 12X CD duplication, a hitherto unimaginable delight.

operation

At its simplest, the O'Dixion DigiCopier could be said to offer "no-touch" duplication. Switch on the unit, insert a source disc and a blank CD-R or CD-RW, and the DigiCopier will select a speed and start copying all by itself. This is not always the best course of action, of course, or applicable to all functions, and the DigiCopier is designed to give the user some measure of choice in how to use it.

The LCD is about three inches wide and a half-inch high, and accommodates two lines of text to indicate status, operation, and selected function. Function selection is determined by pressing the five membrane keys fanned out below the display. The first four keys can be set ON or OFF: these include Simul (for simulated recording to test copying speed for reliability); Copy; Verif (for disc verification, data only--i.e., not audio); and Fit (for truncating audio discs running over 74 minutes). A fifth key, Speed, has six possible settings: Auto (duplicator-determined after scanning the disc for optimal speed), Safe (slow and sure for sketchy source discs), 2X, 4X, 8X, and 12X. The unit can also erase CD-RW media for re-recording. This is achieved by pressing Simul and Copy simultaneously, and only works when the read drive is empty. (The duplicator assumes a copying function is desired if the read drive is occupied, and returns a "Copy failed" error.)

This range of functionality does add versatility to DigiCopier operation, and the "Auto" function certainly makes things easy, but there's a downside: if Copy is set to "ON" (the default setting when you power up the unit), as soon as you insert your read and write discs, the DigiCopier will start copying, whether you're done with your settings or not, and the settings cannot be changed once the recording preliminaries begin.

In testing, the unit demonstrated facility with all its promised functions. It handles 2X, 4X, 8X, and dazzling 12X recording with equal ease, and even recorded a CD-RW disc at industry-standard 4X. And 12X recording was successfully achieved on multiple tries, and clocked for a 73-minute, 58-second audio disc at a blazing 6:39.

Watching the unit erase a CD-RW disc won't exactly give you whiplash, but that's par for the course with CD-RW. After copying the OEM version of Nero Burning ROM included with the duplicator at a rock-steady 4X, the DigiCopier took 39:50 to erase it before successfully writing it again.

The drive also performed effectively as an external SCSI PC drive using the Nero software [See Joshua McDaniel's review, February 2000, pp. 65-67--Ed.]. It should work just as well on the Mac when used with Toast 4 [See review, pp. 65-67 of this issue--Ed.] after appropriate drivers become available (as of this writing, they're not). Both the onboard TEAC 532S 32X CD-ROM drive (with 512KB cache) and the 12X/4X/32X Sanyo CD-RW drive can be configured as external SCSI devices, given available addresses 4 and 5. The recorder also includes a mighty on-board 4MB data buffer to ward off buffer underruns, which might be a heightened concern when attempting the higher recording speed with slower hard drives. The duplicator does not come with SCSI cables or card, so these must be purchased separately if users want to deploy the unit as a blazing external recorder.

The DG1-12X bundle also includes a version of Toast 4, and Karine LE Ekinux.Medi@ for Windows, an image archiving product. Toast was not provided with the review unit; the Karine product was, and installed and recognized the drive without difficulty. Two 8X versions of the DigiCopier are also available: the DG1-8Xr, another basic disc-to-disc'er that uses an 8X recorder; and the DG1-8XHDr, which adds a 4GB hard drive. Recording instructions come in a terse fan-fold card, provided in both French and English, which is sufficient given the duplicator's simplicity of operation and narrowly defined functionality.

alert the media

Remember the early days of 8X CD-R when media support was razor-thin? Here we go again. Sanyo and O'Dixion are to be commended for getting 12X capability to market as soon as possible, and can hardly be blamed for the dearth of 12X media out there. It's certainly a helpful feature that the duplicator can be scaled back to 4X and 8X, since that should theoretically expand media support. What's distressing about working with the O'Dixion (and I assume all current configurations of the Sanyo 12X such as the Smart and Friendly and APS recorder bundles, and the Smart and Friendly disc-to-disc duplicator), is the inconsistent media support, even when downshifted to 4X and 8X.

The DigiCopier ships with a generous helping of ten Philips-branded 12X CD-R discs, and one Samsung-branded 4X CD-RW disc, which should be enough to get you started--but you'll have to tread carefully after that. O'Dixion claims support for the following 74-minute CD-R media brands: Kodak, Maxell, Mitsubishi, Mitsui, O'Dixion (12X), Philips (including 12X), Ricoh, and TDK. Support is also promised for the following CD-RW brands: PDO, Ricoh, TDK, and Verbatim. In testing, media support proved spotty at best. It seems that at least for a while we'll be navigating a minefield when working with the first run of 12X drives, and here's the chunk of the map I've filled in so far for CD-R and CD-RW:

  • Bundled Philips 12X media: yes
  • Smart and Friendly CD Rocket Fuel 80: no
  • Mitsui 8X: sometimes
  • Hi-Val 74: no
  • Memorex: yes
  • Bundled Samsung CD-RW: yes
  • 8X CMC: yes
  • Sony CD-RW 650: sometimes
Given the widespread availability of the supported media brands (and of Ritek discs, which were not tested for this review, but were used in a massive qualification test performed by O'Dixion in November 1999), this is not a cataclysmic condition. But there's no sense in wasting discs, so until more data on media support becomes available for the Sanyo and its derivatives, users are advised to stick to the proven brands.

the twelve speeds of CD-R

Media concerns notwithstanding, 12X recording is nothing short of awesome. If you've got 6 minutes and 39 seconds to spare, you've got time to copy an entire 74-minute disc in the DigiCopier. It doesn't get any quicker or easier than this: set Speed to "12x", insert source and destination disc, and step back and let the DigiCopier do its business. There's nothing else to it. Also moderately versatile, the DigiCopier boasts a handful of other handy functions, like multiple recording speeds, verification, and acting as an external PC or Mac recorder given supporting software. And it also writes, erases, and rewrites CD-RW--not a big value-add in my book, but what's the harm, given that the Sanyo recorder offers 4X CD-RW anyway?

But what distinguishes the O'Dixion is the one thing it does very well: 12X disc-to-disc duplication, automatic for the people. And given that we've never seen its like until now, that's a slam-dunk feature in a lay-up world.


Stephen F. Nathans, (stephenn@onlineinc.com) is Editor of EMedia.

Comments? Email us at letters@onlineinc.com.


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