Prassi Primo CD Plus
Robert A. Starrett
Prassi Primo CD Plus
synopsis: Prassi's Primo CD Plus is a prime example of how efficient internal design, coupled with a masterfully designed two-tiered interface that addresses the needs of beginners and experts alike, and good, clean coding can produce a program that makes you wonder why everything can't be this clean and efficient. Small, fast, reliable, and easy to use, Primo CD Plus offers no extras such as a disc-label printing program or an audio editor, but that would only take away from the purposefulness and beauty of this CD recording implementation.
Prassi Software USA, Inc.
1731 Technology Drive, Suite 490
San Jose, CA 95110
408/573-9100; Fax 408/573-8100
June 2000 |
There's something about Prassi recording software that you can't quite put your finger on, something that immediately clears away any looming gloom or haziness of mind. Whether it is the accused and now-banned CD Right! or Prassi's newest product, Primo CD Plus--coded from a tabula rasa to prevent a return engagement with Adaptec and its litigious legerdemain--this recording software not only innovates, but innovates boldly.
Maybe it's the fact that the self-contained setup.exe file is only 3MB in size. Maybe it's that the program itself consumes only 1MB, or maybe it's that the whole thing, with all supporting files, including the help, takes up only 2MB on your hard disk. Maybe it's the fact that the installation process itself takes only five seconds. Five seconds, no kidding. And all that good feeling comes before you've even started the program.
feelin' good again
The good feeling continues as soon as you start the Primo CD Plus. Primo CD Plus doesn't use wizards, per se, and thank God they didn't hire animators to work with the programming staff like some other cartoon crazies whose names we won't name here. Instead, there are three "Starters," one each for CD Copy, Audio CD, and Data CD. Each of these acts like a self-contained program, although it calls Primo CD Plus proper for its functionality.
You could conceivably record audio and data CDs and copy CDs without ever entering the main program. Only for those tasks that are beyond the simple functions of the starter interface do you need to enter the program proper, although once you work with it a little it is also, not surprisingly, very easy to use.
The main interface looks a lot like Prassi's previous products, but with several enhancements. The two-paned window shows all attached CD-ROM drives and recorders in the left pane. The detail and feedback given to the user about the attached devices and any discs that might be in them is extensive and useful. Right-clicking on any drive or recorder brings up the Disc Explorer and Drive Properties window. Here, you can see the following information for the drive you selected: Host and ID number of the drive, bus type, drive letter assigned, drive make and model, drive type, and firmware version. Disc information displayed is Disc Mode, DAO-TAO, number of tracks, and megabytes used. There is also a graphical representation on the right of a CD that shows, in different colors, how much room is left on the disc and whether the disc is stamped, closed recordable, and recordable or rewritable.
It is from this screen, too, that you can check data extraction speed and audio extraction speed and perform a recorder self-test, which makes a small ISO image and simulates a short write to a blank disc. The right pane is blank until you choose a job. Job types are Disc-to-Disc Copy, Global Image or Other Image, Data Disc, Audio Disc, and Video CD. Once you choose a job, the right pane reflects the controls, options, and feedback you need to produce that particular disc type.
You can also check a box here to command the program to make a temporary image on hard disk before recording. This will alleviate certain buffer underrun problems, although you have to work pretty hard to underrun this program on a fast machine, even when recording at 12X. You can record away at 12X while writing, surfing, or performing any number of other tasks. The only caveat here is that any program that checks CD-ROM or recorder status, like a ripping or jukebox program, may interrupt the process. Plus, anything that accesses the hard disk heavily when the source files exist there has the potential to cause problems.
Disc-to-Disc copying is easy and straightforward, as it should be. Simply right-click to select the source drive, right-click to select the recorder, choose the number of copies that you want, check the recording speed and then choose test, test and record, or record. Then simply click on the red record button. You're on your way.
Making a data disc is similarly painless, whether using the Starter or the interface proper. You can either drag and drop files and folders from Windows Explorer, or use the file folder button within Primo CD Plus to open a window, choose files and folders, and add them to your data layout.
Audio recording is easy, too. The Starter includes a track finder function that will search specified drives or directories, or your whole system for MP3 and WAV files. Once the Track Finder has listed all available audio sources, you need merely to select the files and add them to the layout. You can mix WAV, MP3, and Windows Media Audio (wma) files in a layout--a very handy feature. CD-Text editing is available here, too, if you have that need.
it's the little things
Although simultaneous recording to multiple drives is a feature reserved for more powerful packages, such as Prassi's professional software, Primo CD Pro--which comes in versions that support recording to 8, 16, or 64 recorders simultaneously--Prassi has been kind enough to include two-drive recording in the Plus product. They call this the HyperDrive function, and it will work with dual recorders of the same model and BIOS revision. The drive support is excellent and when new drives are added, a quick download from Prassi Europe's Web site patches the program accordingly. Likewise, the burning engine itself can be updated from the Prassi Europe Web site.
Another nice feature here is the Drives Tuning option. You can easily see and modify, for each drive, Disconnect, Sync Data Transfer, and Auto Insert Notification functions. The Drives Tuning screen allows you to modify certain settings of all your recorders and CD-ROM drives at the same time, without having to go separately to the Windows Control Panel and make changes drive by drive. Some changes will require a reboot and Primo CD Plus tells you this and offers to reboot for you. Prassi's proprietary private ASPI layer, called PxHelper, allows the program to perform file system blocking, making sure, to the extent that it can, that other processes do not interfere with any of Primo CD Plus' business.
blow you away
Primo CD Plus is a prime example of how efficient internal design, coupled with a masterfully designed two-tiered interface that addresses the needs of beginners and experts alike, and good, clean coding can produce a program that makes you wonder why everything can't be this clean and efficient. Small, fast, reliable, and easy to use, Primo CD Plus offers no extras such as a disc-label printing program or an audio editor, but that would only take away from the purposefulness and beauty of this CD recording implementation.
Robert A. Starrett (email@example.com) is a contributing editor for EMedia, co-columnist for THE CD WRITER, and an independent consultant based in Denver, Colorado. He is the co-author of CD-ROM Professional's CD-Recordable Handbook.
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