Price: DVD – £170.20 plus VAT, CD-RW – £221.27 plus VAT
Freecom has recently released the second generation of its Traveller range of CD, DVD and CD-RW drives, which are perfectly designed for the mobile design professional. Small enough to fit into even the smallest laptop bag and no larger than a double CD case, they’re also a darker-than-Apple shade of graphite and look sleekly sexy next to silver laptops from that company, Sony, Samsung or Fujitsu-Siemens. The cases also seem robust enough for long-term mobile use. There are currently four drives in the range with a fifth (a DVD/CD-RW combo drive) expected in October. There’s a 24x CD drive (£85.10 plus VAT), a 4x4x20x CD-RW drive (£170.20 plus VAT), an 8x4x24x CD-RW drive (£178.71 plus VAT) and an 8x24x DVD drive (£170.20 plus VAT). There’s an open interface at the back of the drives. To this you connect a connector cable, which has to be bought separately, to attach the drive to your computer via IEEE 1394 (FireWire – £42.54 plus VAT), USB (£28.08 plus VAT), PCMCIA (£25.52 plus VAT) or parallel (£25.52 plus VAT). The 8x4x24 drive works fine over FireWire or PCMCIA but USB and parallel users are not going to get any more from this than they will from the 4x4x20x drive. With the cables added these are expensive prices for comparatively slow drives – but it’s the ability to move around that you’re paying for. Another useful option is the power module (£28.94 plus VAT). CD-RW requires more power than the USB or FireWire cable can provide, so the power model allows you to use the drive wherever there’s space. We tested the 8x4x24x CD-RW and the DVD drive using the FireWire cable. Unusually for small attachable drives they worked perfectly. There seemed to be conflict between the two drives on Windows 98 but it turned out to be between the CD-RW drive and a previously installed drive from another manufacturer. One re-install of the Windows 98 SE FireWire update and everything was working perfectly. So if you’re looking for the ideal laptop Companion and don’t mind paying for it, this is the range to buy.