I have a confession to make: I don’t like multifunction devices. When shopping, I buy the best of the individual devices. For example, I own a separate printer and scanner, not a multifunction printer/scanner/copier. Therefore, it was with some trepidation that I approached Ritek’s latest creation, known as the QuattroDrive.
With an older television, I am limited in that I have one set of RCA inputs in the rear (those are the round yellow, red, and white connections). I have a stand-alone DVD player hooked up. It works well at playing my CD’s and DVD’s. My old DVD player does not display photos, but with only one set of RCA connections, I didn’t have the room for a dedicated TV flash card viewer. I thought the answer was a new TV, but I’ve been holding off with LCD prices tumbling, and the unknowns of the new HDTV signal.
Then along comes this little box, known as the QuattroDrive. It promises to interface not only with my computer, but also with my television. What can it do? These are the four functions accrdong to the manufacturer:
– flash memory to CD burner
– digital media player
– multicard reader/writer
– external CDR/W writer
I first dismissed this device as only being for professional photographers who needed to back up their memory cards on the road to a more secure optical disc. The more I started looking into this device, the more I realized that it had a lot more to offer for many different users.
What’s In The Box?
The retail version of the Quattro drive includes the following:
– Power adaptor
– Remote control including battery
– Software disc including PDF manual
– Printed Quick Start Guide
– USB 2.0 cable
– Audio/Video RCA cable
– Pack of 10 Ritek CD-R’s, 48x certified
I consider this to be a robust and complete package. It includes everything needed to get the QuattroDrive connected to a TV or computer, and up and running including all the cables, and even discs.
The Optical Drive
At the heart of this device is a slimtype, notebook optical drive, which contributes to the small overall size of the QuattroDrive. A little detective work figured out that this is a LiteOn Combo drive LSC-24802K. This drive features 24x CD reading and burning, as well as 8x DVD reading, and Smart-Burn buffer underrun protection. In short, this is as fast a drive as any notebook drive out there at reading CD’s and DVD’s. It cannot write to DVD’s (this would probably increase the cost too much). The drive can perform CD burner duty, but there is no included software. Using Nero, the drive was recognized and performed as expected on burning tasks.
The QuattroDrive plays audio CD’s without being connected to anything else. I found it convenient to use it to play discs without the hassle of booting the computer. I just plugged in a set of speakers to the audio out, and a very compact stereo system was created, with a remote! It was also useful for times when I was using the optical drive on the computer for something else, or other heavy tasks that I wanted the audio independent of the computer. The compact size of the QuattroDrive allows it to fit almost anywhere. The OLED display was bright and easily readable, and the disc could be controlled via the built in controls for play, stop, next track, and previous track, as well as the remote control.
The remote resembles a standard DVD player remote control. It connects to the QuattroDrive via infrared. It worked fine from over 12 feet away even when a little off center. Unfortunately it uses a watch battery for power, so it will cost a little more to replace, but this is a trend we’ve seen in other remotes in their quest for slimness. The mute button comes in handy when playing discs and the phone rings.
Connecting To a Computer
The QuattroDrive interfaces with a computer via the included USB 2.0 cable. It gets listed as a CD drive, and three removable discs. Installing the software makes the removable discs get identified as the type of media that can be read in the slot: Compact Flash, SmartMedia, or MultiMedia Card/Secure Digital/Memory Stick/Memory Stick Duo. These flash card slots can then be used to transfer data from the flash card, to a CDR/W. In fact, this can be accomplished without a computer, and will appeal to photographers on the go that want to archive their images without lugging a notebook around. It’s as easy as inserting the memory card and a blank optical disc, and pressing “copy” on the remote control (there’s also a method that bypasses the remote).
Connecting To A Television
The QuattroDrive connects easily to the television set with the included cable and the RCA inputs of the television. It is not documented what the component output is used for (I assume it’s for a component video output, but it’s not clear what cable I would use to do that). Once connected, the QuattroDrive is a very capable DVD drive. It can play audio CD’s, and DVD’s. It also supports some of the less common formats, like MP3 discs, Video CD’s, and JPG images (but unfortunately doesn’t support Divx or WMA). In fact, the MP3’s and JPEG’s can be played from either the optical discs, or any of the flash card slots. This makes it easy to make your own “megamix” or slide show for playback. Viewing pictures this way, with a remote, is a lot more elegant than sitting next to the TV, holding my digital camera, and hoping the battery doesn’t run out! Parental controls round out the package. In use, the drive played back our movie DVD’s as well as any other DVD player I’ve tested.
Who should buy the Quattro Drive?
I can envision the Quattro Drive being used in many situations:
– the computer user adding DVD and flash card capability to their system
– a stereo system with remote for the space cramped dorm or apartment dweller
– a set top DVD player with added flash card capability and photo support
– the photographer on the go looking to transfer from flash card to disc without a computer
– a tourist enjoying CD’s & DVD’s in their hotel room, and archiving their trip photos after looking at them
– the “poor man’s” media center pc substitute (after all, it has 80% of the functionality for 20% of the price)
Strengths & Weaknesses
– complete package including cables, discs, even a battery for the remote
– OLED display is easily readable in night or light
– shipped with latest firmware installed on optical drive
– software displays memory card slots with types
– easy to back up memory cards onto optical discs
– supports VCD, MP3, and JPG formats
– quick start guide
Ninety pound weakling…
– battery watch for remote
– full manual only on CD, not printed
– no included CD burning software
– no support for xD Media cards
– no support for SVCD or Divx video compression
– no support for other audio formats like WMA
– undocumented component out jack
In summary, this Quattro Drive is a great solution for a wide variety of users. It combines the power of a computer peripheral, into the ease of use of a television set top box, and succeeds at both. Its compact size makes it perfectly suited for on the road tasks, and space cramped dorm dwellers. The bottom line is it is very worth giving up your last set of RCA inputs for! The Quattro Drive is definitely “LD Approved.”
Special thanks to Ritek for supporting this review.