Just a few years ago, burning CDs was more mad science than routine procedure. Hardware components and software programs were difficult to set up, and often enough, incompatible. So sometimes you got a quality disc, other times an expensive drink coaster. Recently though, CD recording technology has become more stable while recorder and media prices have dropped to affordable levels.
I use CDs to hold my music and important data, and they've become my favorite method of archiving. I transfer home video from my camcorder to my computer, and then burn to CD. I also archive my favorite software and games. Remember, you are allowed to legally make one backup of your data CDs as long as it's for your own personal use. (This can be really handy if you have kids who like to play with your CDs.)
Another great way to put a CD recorder to work is encoding and burning music in the MP3 format. With a single software program, you can encode 10-12 hours of music into MP3 files and burn them on a 650 MB disc. In the next year, combo CD/MP3 car decks will hit the market, and you'll be able to take these tunes on the road. Philips is already selling a portable CD player that will play MP3 files burned on CD.
But before you run out and buy the first burner you find, there are a few pitfalls to avoid, a few choices to make. Roll up your sleeves, put your geek hat on, and we'll help you decide which recorder and CD burning software is right for you.
Easy CD Creator, is bundled with most CD recorders sold today. Toast is Adaptec's CDR program for Mac users. I will talk about both of these programs and others, including a free program that will burn audio CD's and encode MP3s as well.
Now, a quick primer on how CD recorders work their magic, and some other relevant background information.
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