Review: Alera DVD/CD Copy Cruiser Pro 8X
Posted Aug 4, 2004

The Alera DVD/CD Copy Cruiser Pro is a 1:1 DVD/CD duplicator designed for prosumer and business use. According to its specs, the new Copy Cruiser Pro doubles recording speed across the board, supporting 8X recording to DVD±R, 4X DVD±RW, 40X CD-R, and 24X CD-RW.

Over the course of testing, the Copy Cruiser Pro accomplished 8X duplication of full, write-once DVDs in approximately eleven minutes. At 4X, it copied the same discs in about 15 minutes, and at 2X, in 25 minutes. The quality of the picture and sound at each rate was equal to that of the source disc—as it should be in a bit-for-bit copy. The Copy Cruiser will not duplicate copy-protected DVDs.

The Copy Cruiser Pro defaults to a recommended copying speed for the media, unless you specify otherwise. For 8X-certified DVD±R, Alera recommends 8X, and for 4X-certified DVD±R media, 4X.

For CD-R, however, suggested speed is a modest 16X. The product repeatedly performed CD dupes at 16X in five and a half minutes. Going to the maximum of 40X for CD duplication cut recording time by thirty seconds. The Cruiser copied the disc successfully at the higher speed, but that's not much of a time improvement.

The Copy Cruiser's Edit Track feature allows you to make mix CDs by selecting individual tracks from several CDs and copying them sequentially onto a disc. The user's guide provides clear and concise instruction on how to accomplish this. Other features included in the Copy Cruiser Pro are the ability to erase and reuse rewritable discs (CD and DVD), test copying speed before burning, and compare and verify duplicated discs. An additional Prescan feature checks source disc quality before setting a recording speed.

The Copy Cruiser Pro comes with a USB 2.0 port for use as an external PC DVD-Recorder. It includes Sonic MyDVD for DVD authoring and DVD/CD recording, CyberLink PowerDVD for DVD-Video playback, and a Windows 98SE USB driver (it should work with Windows Me, 2000, or XP without additional drivers). The Sonic MyDVD CD includes Sonic RecordNow!, Sonic Simple Backup, and ArcSoft ShowBiz.

The Alera DVD/CD Copy Cruiser Pro is a solid product that works reliably from the minute you plug it in. At a $399 MSRP it's a good buy for anyone with low-volume DVD/CD duplication needs who would prefer to offload those tasks from a primary PC workstation. As an upgrade from the previous 4X Copy Cruiser, it's a tough sell—you'll save four minutes per DVD by moving up to 8X, but a mere 30 seconds/CD by operating the Copy Cruiser at maximum CD speed. The 4X Copy Cruiser was also an excellent product, and if you're already running one in your studio, you're probably okay with what you have.

—Kevin Monks