This article is from the CD-Recordable FAQ, by Andy McFadden (email@example.com) with numerous contributions by others.
By all accounts, they work just fine. Most such drives are IDE devices
with a converter (e.g. an enclosure with a parallel-to-IDE converter).
Parallel-port drives require an ECP/EPP parallel port, which most (all?)
machines have. Some BIOSs allow you to switch between ECP/EPP and
"standard" mode; if you're having trouble, be sure it's set correctly.
Some people who have bought off-the-shelf parallel-to-IDE converters have
found that writing at 4x doesn't work very well. This may account for
why all drives that ship with parallel port support are 2x writers.
USB recorders work fine at 4x when connected directly to the computer.
You may need to reduce speed to 2x if you use a hub. Some people have
reported that their Windows systems were crashing until they turned
auto-insert notification off (see section (4-1-1)). Windows users should be
running Win98 or later -- Win95b may or may not work. Be warned that some
USB SmartMedia readers install drivers that interfere with the ASPI layer;
if you have problems with one, uninstall the drivers for the device and
You need USB 2.0 to take advantage of drives faster than 6x4x4. Support
for USB 2.0 has been spotty, but as of mid-2002 it's becoming more
common on new motherboards and software support is improving.
A PC user with USB 2.0 ports discovered that their recorder would only work
successfully under WinXP or Win2K. Older versions of Windows wouldn't work.
If you're having problems when disconnecting a device from the USB hub,
IEEE 1394 (FireWire/i.Link) devices should only be used with recent
versions of Windows on PCs (e.g. Win98SE or Win2K, not Win95, Win98,
or WinNT). Linux support for 1394 was still listed as "experimental"
in early 2002.
Some personal notes on FireWire:
I bought a Western Digital PCI 1394 card, an ADS Technologies Pyro 1394
Drive Kit, and an HP DVD100i CD/DVD+RW recorder with an IDE interface.
As an experiment, I put the HP recorder into the ADS case, and plugged
Under Windows 98SE, I was able to use the drive as a CD-ROM reader and DVD
video player. The HP software got a little confused during installation,
claiming that it couldn't find the drive, but when asked to record a CD it
was able to find the device. However, neither the HP RecordNow software
nor Nero was able to successfully record an audio CD. The drive just
stopped working a few minutes in.
When the drive was subsequently connected to the IDE bus, it worked fine.
Subsequent experiments showed that the problem appears to be some sort of
incompatibility with the motherboard -- my VIA-based Soyo K7V Dragon+ seems
to be incompatible with 1394 devices. I haven't tried the experiment,
but my guess is that the recorder would've worked just fine in the ADS
case on a compatible system.
For the curious, http://www.fadden.com/techmisc/my-pcs.htm#1394 has the
gory details on what I went through.