There's a great scene in Woody Allen's Annie Hall when Alvy (Allen) and Annie (Diane Keaton) travel to California, and attend a party at the home of a record producer Tony Lacey (played by Paul Simon) that manages to satirize virtually every imaginable element of mid-'70s L.A. laziness and solipsism from Allen's decidedly east coast perspective. Lacey welcomes the New Yorkers to his place by giving them a tour, and eventually they arrive in his movie-screening room, where he says he can watch any movie he wants anytime, without having to go out or stand on line in the rain. Annie says, "Isn't this great? What an easy life. They just sit and watch movies all day." Alvy replies, "Yeah, and gradually get old and die. It's important to make a little effort once in a while."
There's much to be said for effort to be sure, but isn't it nice when things are surprisingly easy? Just in case you have numbed your brain by sitting home and watching movies for the last 25 years, or plan to dupe enough (unencrypted) DVDs so you can spend the next 25 in that manner, the DVD Copy Cruiser Dual will make your life as easy as you want or need. You don't even have to know what format you're buying, since it follows the latest trends in the DVD recording market by offering support for all the formats currently holding sway (DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, and DVD+RW). Integrating the same Pioneer DVR-A06 drive reviewed earlier (which also registers as the "DVR-106D" when attached to a PC) along with a 16X DVD-ROM source drive, the Dual Copy Cruiser makes DVD and CD duplication nearly effortless operations. Plug it in, turn it on, pop in a disc, click OK, use the arrow keys to select a speed, and it's off and running. Tested on DVD-R media from Pioneer, Ritek, and Verbatim; 4X DVD+R and 2.4X media DVD+RW media from Verbatim; and CD-R media from Memorex and Verbatim (those stylish Digital Vinyl discs), the duplicator performed up to spec across the board, tearing off 15-minute DVDs on the write-once media, and five-minute full CD-Rs (max CD-R speed: 16X). And if you're duping multiple copies of the same disc, it gets even easier; you don't even have to select the speed after the first copy.
The Copy Cruiser also functions as an external CD/DVD recorder, plugging into any USB 2 slot (USB 1.1 will work for CD-R up to 8X, but is insufficient for DVD recording of any speed). The DVD-ROM drive is disabled when the Copy Cruiser is used as an external PC drive. To enhance its PC recording appeal, the Copy Cruiser ships with the Ulead MovieFactory consumer DVD-authoring application, plus Nero Express and Nero Vision Express for various recording tasks. You'll need to toggle a switch on the back from the disc (Duplicator) to the PC icon, but beyond that it's plug-and-play. Alera also includes USB 2 drivers for those who need it, and a disc devoted to drivers for Windows 98. (Users of Windows ME and beyond should go on the assumption that it will work without adding new drivers, and only try the drivers discs if the drive doesn't show up; adding drivers unnecessarily confuses things.) Rounding out the software bundle is CyberLink's PowerDVD, which enables the Dual Copy Cruiser to serve as a PC-DVD player. The hits just keep on comin'.
Other key features of the Copy Cruiser include Test Copy Disc, a little prerecording insurance policy; Edit Track, for linear, track-by-track CD-Audio mix-making (a nice feature also found on Alera's high-speed CD duplicators); and Quick and Full Erase functions for rewritable media.
Users should note that while the DVD Copy Cruiser Dual can theoretically copy any DVD with 4.4GB of data or less (the capacity of a writable DVD), it will not dupe copy-protected DVDs, or any DVD-9s.
[Minimum System Requirements: Windows 98SE, ME or 2000; Intel Pentium 3 or higher for video capture (Pentium 2 400mHz or higher for DVD authoring); 128MB RAM (256MB recommended); 40-240MB HDD for application software; 10GB or higher for DVD authoring (20GB recommended)]