Apacer Disc Steno CP-200
The Apacer Disc Steno CP-200 is a portable, battery-operated, multi-session CompactDisc recorder. Its main use is to transfer image files or other data from flash memory cards to CD-R or CD-R/W discs without a computer. This eliminates the need to buy more flash memory cards when vacationing or working out in the field and allows you to leave your expensive laptop at home. The Disc Steno is great for anyone that wants a simple way to archive their digital images on inexpensive and transportable CD media.
At home or in the office the Disc Steno can be connected to Windows and Macintosh computers via its high-speed USB 2.0 interface. It serves as a fast 24X CD-R recorder, 10X CD-RW recorder, a 24X CD-ROM drive, a DVD player and a high speed, multi-format flash card reader / writer.
The Disc Steno is compatible with CompactFlash Type I and II cards including IBM Microdrive, SmartMedia, Secure Digital, MultiMedia Card, Memory Stick and Memory Stick Pro cards. It's compatible with PCs running MS Windows 98, SE, 2000, Me, XP and Mac OS X equipped with a USB 1.1 or 2.0 interface.
The CP-200 is a significant upgrade to the Disc Steno CP-100 that we reviewed last year. The CP-200 can span multiple CDs when the data being copied exceeds the capacity of the CD. The CP-100 would simply abort under these conditions. The only progress indicators on the CP-100 were a couple of blinking LEDs, the CP-200 features a beautiful, self-illuminated, OLED data display that graphically tells you what its doing. And an Audio-Video Out port with an infrared remote control lets you can connect it to a TV for display of JPEG still images and MPEG movies and to play MP3 song files.
The Disc Steno CP-200 package as sold by JOBO Digital retails for $299.95.
Using the Disc Steno
The CP-200 has a CompactFlash Type II card slot and a multi-format card slot, it can read/write CompactFlash Type I or II cards, Microdrives, SmartMedia, Secure Digital, MultiMedia Card, Memory Stick and Memory Stick Pro. (It can be used with Memory Stick Duo or MS Duo PRO cards with the Memory Stick Adapter and xD-Picture Card media with a xD-CF adapter.)
Downloading Flash Cards
To download a memory card to a CD -- You insert the flash card, turn the unit on, press the Eject button and insert a CD-R or CD-R/W disc and then follow the prompts on the bright and clear OLED display. You press one button for the FAST copy function and another for the SECURE copy function. The rest is automatic.
Most CD-R discs holds 640MB of data, some hold 700MB to 800MB so the capacity depends on the media that you use. Data is recorded in multi-session mode so it doesn't matter if you have a big flash card or a small one, you can keep recording until the disc is filled.
The copy and burn process is fairly robust if you select the FAST copy option. I copied 702MB of data from a 1GB 32X Lexar CF card in 5 minutes 40 seconds.
Copying the same card using the SECURE option was extended to 11 minutes. This adds a verification routine after the copy but comes at the price of more time and battery power (unless you're on AC power.) Use this option whenever possible as verification is always a good thing before you erase your original images and re-use the memory card. I would even suggest burning two CDs of every card just to be really safe.
Here's what you see on the OLED display during the copying process to two CDs when the media card has more data than the remaining CD capacity.
Connecting to your PC
To connect to your PC you just plug in the USB cable and turn the unit on. Using Windows XP Pro, my computer beeped and then went through the usual process of recognizing 3 new USB devices, a CD-RW drive and two other Removable drives (one for each card slot).
It's Plug-n-Play with Windows Me and XP machines, drivers are included for Windows 98, SE and 2000. There are no drivers for Mac OS 9+ and to use its CD burning features with OS X you must already have Toast Titanium. The USB 2.0 interface is rated at up to 480Mbps throughout and is backwards compatible with USB 1.1 at the lower data rates.
To get the full benefit of this CD-RW drive when connected to the PC you need to install the included Nero Burning ROM software. Windows XP does support CD-R and CD-RW drives but its builtin software is very basic (OK, crappy!), Nero is much better CD burning software.
Connecting to a TV
To display your JPEG still images and MPEG movies or to play MP3 song files, connect the A-V cable from the CP-200 to the video-in and audio l-r connectors on your TV set. Press the upper left button next to the OLED to enter the Video Out mode of operation. You can view images from CD discs or flash memory cards.
Be sure to plug in the AC adapter first or the OLED will warn you to do this before it lets you switch modes.
Pressing the "Browse" button the remote displays this listing of image files, it's similar to a Windows Explorer kind of screen. Use the Up and Down buttons to move through the list and display an image by pressing the OK button. The buttons below the list let you switch to displaying movie or MP3 song files instead of images.
If you press the "Digest" button you get this 6-per-page thumbnail view of your image files. Use the Up and Down and Left and Right buttons to move around the thumbnails and display an image by pressing the OK button.
When viewing an image or movie in full screen, press the "OSD" button to enable the On Screen Display information shown here.
Like your digital camera, the CP-200 has a ZOOM function. Press the "Magnifying Glass" button to enlarge the image in 3 steps. Move around the enlarged image with the 4-way buttons.
Press the MENU button to change the video out format, the OSD language, the source (CF, multi card slot, CD), enable the screen saver or return all settings to default.
For portable use the Disc Steno is powered by a 7.4V 1800mAh lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack. Apacer claims that this battery can power the unit for 60 minutes per charge.
The Disc Steno can be powered directly from its AC charger/power adapter. When the unit is not turned on the battery will be charged. Recharging time is 3 to 8 hours, charging status is indicated by an LED on the side of the unit.
The JOBO Digital Apacer Disc Steno CP-200 package includes the Disc Steno CP-200, lithium-ion battery pack, AC power adapter, USB cable, A-V cable, IR remote control, printed user manual, CD with driver software and Nero Burning ROM software.
Steve's ConclusionWe liked the Disc Steno CP-100 with the exception of its inability to handle large flash cards. The CP-200 solved that problem with its Disc Spanning capability and added new features such as the bright, clear and energy-efficient OLED data display. You have to see it to believe it, these new OLED displays are so much easier to see than older LCDs. They use less power as they're self-illuminating, no back light required. And the A-V out feature and remote control means that the CP-200 can now become part of your home entertainment center. Or used in the computer room as an external CD-R/RW, CD-ROM, DVD player and fast USB 2.0 multi-format flash card reader. Beats the heck out of buying something that only gets used on vacation and then sits collecting dust in the closet the other 50 weeks of the year.
I don't know what they did to improve the verify after copy function but it's much faster now. The CP-100 took about 18 minutes to copy/verify, the CP-200 now does it in a little over 11 minutes. In my opinion it's a very unsmart thing to do a FAST copy. Without verification you don't know if your images have been copied properly. I not only use the SECURE copy function, I also make duplicate copies of the same card on two different CDs. And I won't trust my photos on those cheap, generic CD-R discs - buy the best ones you can get - Imation, Kodak, Maxell, TDK, Memorex, Mitsui. Ever wonder why these brand name discs are priced around $1 or more and those generic discs are $0.30 each? The answer is quality and durability - they're simply better media and well worth the money for safe guarding your treasured photos.
You've gotta love progress and the fact that the vastly improved CP-200 sells for the same $299 that the CP-100 sold for last year. It works very well and is simple to operate - what more can I say? We want to use our digital cameras on vacation but we don't want to have to bring a large and expensive laptop computer along. They make a very desirable target for thieves when sitting unattended in your hotel room or rental car. I'd rather risk a $299 CP-200 than my $3000 Sony VAIO -- how about you?