Que! CD-RW External PC USB Drive

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, updated March 2007

Published by: QPS (Quality Performance Service) Inc.
Requires: Windows 98 or higher recommended
MSRP: US$299.95

(Ed. Note: Que! Inc. is no longer around, but its technology and drive designs have been picked up by several different companies. The external drive reviewed here is still available from several sources at really low prices.)

Designed originally for iMac and Apple G3 computers in matching case colors, the QPS QUE! drive is now being offered in a neutral gray and white case, along with a USB driver for Windows 98. The 4x2x8 CD-ReWritable (CD-RW) drive offers an easy way to record, erase, and rewrite CD-RW media again and again. It's ideal for archiving and exchanging any kind of data, including audio. The CDs are fully compatible with all CD-ROM drives and audio players. The drive itself can also serve as a primary or secondary CD drive for any Windows 98 or higher PC.

With the popularity of digital still cameras, digital video cameras, color desktop publishing, and editing with software such as VideoWave II, VideoStudio, PhotoSuite II & III, PictureIt and many others, the space required to store your work expands at an alarming rate. CD-RW is a fast, reliable, almost universally usable and portable solution because CD-RW disks can be read on any computer with a CD-ROM drive. Although the recording and re-recording process is not as fast as a hard drive or Jaz drive, the process is more than fast enough for backups, off-line storage, portable storage, off-site recording, and general data exchange.


The PC/Windows version of the Que! drive is a top quality, consumer, external USB CD-RW drive which uses the identical drive electronics and transport as those found in the iMac version. In addition to its 4X write and 2X rewrite speeds, the Que! offers 8X reads of CD, CD-R, and CD-RW media. It can sustain a fast data transfer rate of up to 600KB/sec (4x write speed), with a 2MB RAM buffer to support greater application flexibility. You can also drag a full 1200KB/sec out of it (8x read speed). The drive can be used to create standard capacity 650MB data CDs and 74 minute audio CDs. It also has a front panel audio output jack (mini-plug) for private listening. As in the original iMac review, technical testing revealed the published specs to be right on the money. QPS bundles Easy CD Creator software for Windows with the PC version of the QUE! drive. You may want to upgrade to Adaptec's Easy CD Creator Deluxe however; it's available for purchase and download from most software e-commerce sites.

The Que! CD-RW was tested on two old Windows machines: a Pentium II/350 MHz machine with 128MB of RAM running Windows 98, and a Micron P166MMX machine (still running strong believe it or not) with 64 MB of RAM running Windows 98. We tried to install the QUE! drive on a USB equipped Windows 95 machine (another PII/350), but could not get the driver to work. We suspect bugs in the generally poor USB support in Windows 95 to be the problem. No matter — anyone still running Windows 95 really needs to update because even Microsoft doesn't support it.

Field testing this drive was a pleasure. We 'tapped' a musician friend who does regular gigs in and around the Toronto area, to use the QUE! for a live location, spooled backup recording (originating from a SCSI hard drive). Although there were some obvious throughput problems, they all resulted from lagging at the PC USB port and poor application usage of the CPU, not the QUE!'s ability to handle fast backup throughput.

In-house testing of the QUE! drive focused on daily backup chores for one of our research servers. It was the work of a few minutes to erase the previous day's backup document files, and set up a new 'burn' using the same CD-RW disk. Over a period of two weeks, maintaining daily backups of refreshed documents needed only for 24 hour periods, we saved a cool sixty bucks worth of blank, standard CD-R media. As this review is being written, four weeks since beginning the long term testing, we've assigned the QUE! drive to several other CD-RW tasks and are currently adding up over 250 bucks worth of savings in CD-R media. Not bad.

Cons: We still get the occasional ruined CD-RW disk. The main reason is throughput across the USB port, CPU busy problems, and a host of other odds & ends which can wreck a recording session. iMacs are a little better than even the fastest PCs when it comes to avoiding ruined CD-Rs and CD-RWs, and SCSI has its attractions too, but neither operating system and hardware architecture has anything to brag about.

Pros: The drive is unusually quiet for an external unit, adding almost no additional noise to the working environment. A carrying case with storage space for AC & USB cables as well as the drive and some CD-RW disks is supplied with the unit. The QUE! is ideal for portable applications such as video shoots, audio recording sessions, presentations, etc. It's also an excellent choice for backups, large file transfers, incremental storage, music recording and about a thousand other uses. Highly recommended.




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