Maximize Your Mac

Upgrade Your Pismo with a Dual-Layer DVD Burner

- 2006.07.19

I find myself typing this article on my trusty Pismo PowerBook. Last year I considered myself a "power user," running a dual G5 loaded with memory, a high-end video card, and a RAID system. For me it's always been about power and speed.

After the departure of that G5, I find myself using this laptop more and more. Funny how things change. I still have a couple of loaded Power Macs, but because of my love for this laptop, I have recently purchased another classic PowerBook, a 3400c.

Enough of that - let's get down to business. FastMac sent me their latest DVD burner to try out, and I'm going to fill you in on how this little slot loader burns up the dual layer discs!

One of the great things about the Pismo is how easy it is to upgrade. When I received the burner, it looked much like the standard DVD-ROM I had removed. After all, the burner is in an Apple DVD-ROM casing.

FastMac SuperDrive

Well, looked similar for the most part. After sliding it into position, I booted up, and it was recognized instantly by Tiger (OS X 10.4.x). That was enough to get me really excited.

Yeah, Macs are much easier to upgrade, but this laptop is seven years old. Kudos to FastMac on the upgrade!

Here are the specifications of my 'Book: FastMac G4/550 MHz CPU, 256 MB memory, and a 40 GB Toshiba hard drive.

FastMac 8x SuperDrive for PismoLet's look at some differences between the new burner and Apple's original drive. The first thing I noticed was that the new drive is a slot-loading drive. That is great, considering how fragile tray loading drives are. Slid the disc in part way, and the drive sucks it in.

From the outside, it's easy to tell that this is not an Apple part. That is something I was a little let down by. It doesn't fill up the entire drive bay and leaves the laptop susceptible to dust, hair, or food crumbs. The PowerBook also looses some of its smooth look and feel. It's also missing an eject button or emergency "paper clip" disc eject hole.

This drive is all about performance, which is FastMac's goal as an upgrade retailer.

A friend of mine stopped by and wanted some quick copies of her camera's recent photos. I was using the 'Book at my couch and figured I would see how fast this drive is. I grabbed five blank CDs and started the burn. The drive was recognized by iPhoto and seemed to burn just as fast as the new burner in my Power Mac G4. That was impressive.

The standout feature of this drive is that the user can burn dual layer discs. Not even the current MacBook Pros can do that.

Although I do my video editing on my Power Macs, there are several reasons to have a dual-layer burner in a laptop. The first is backups, and they are even more important on a laptop, as they can be more easily damaged or stolen. It's also good for transferring large files.

If this was my only Mac, it could be used for burning iMovies, too. Although I don't have another laptop burner to compare performance to, it burned successfully every time and did so quickly.

FastMac SuperDriveIf you have a Pismo and would rather upgrade it than buy a new 'Book, this US$150 drive will make it faster and more useful. The slot loading makes it more durable than the tray loader, and it burns every type of disc that OS X allows.

After watching many movies and burning several types and sizes of discs, I find it to perform very well.

Although aesthetically it doesn't look like an OEM drive, it's usability and performance were stellar. I rate this drive as a "must buy" for Pismo owners seeking a burner. LEM

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