A Record-Fast Combo Drive

Samsung's SM-348 CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive speeds past the competition, offering faster burn times with excellent reliability.

Last year, Samsung took its CD writing speed to 32X. This year, the company improved its technology, pushing speeds to a whopping 48X with the Samsung SM-348 CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive ($130 street).

Updated from the SM-332, the SM-348 gives you faster burn speeds and read times. It offers speeds of 24X for rewriting, 16X for DVD reading, 48X for CD recording, and the usual 48X CD-ROM read rate. We burned a 325MB file in less than 2 minutes. We also ran the Titanic DVD in the background with MusicMatch playing an MP3, and still the drive was able to burn without difficulty.

Samsung has stabilized its burn process. You wont get a failed burn and a wasted CD even if your computer has too many applications running or is just plain old. The drives buffer memory has jumped from 2MB to 8MB, which adds to the robustness of the burning process. And DVD playback is extremely smooth.

A comprehensive user guide gives you step-by-step installation instructions and shows you how to use the drive. The package includes Roxio Easy CD Creator which, with Direct CD, lets you create CDs using drag-and-drop. Samsung includes PowerDVD, a DVD encoding and playing application that lets you play any DVD. We played The Matrix with this drive mounted in a 400-Mhz Intel-based PC, and playback was flawless.

Overall, Samsung has made considerable improvements to its combo drive, increasing read and write speeds and pushing up buffer capacity. With better speed, a good software bundle, and a low price, the Samsung SM-348 is an impressive deal.