Sound Advice: Buy cheap, high-quality disc drive

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Question: Can you recommend a reliable, moderately priced external CD drive to install programs of the Epson Perfection V550 color scanner I'm thinking of buying? Apple's Aluminum Super drive is beautifully designed, but lacks a CD tray and has very mixed operating reviews. My new Apple iMac has no CD drive, hence my need for advice.


Answer: With fewer devices including optical drives these days, especially in Apple products, I thought the entire readership would benefit from this question.

What you are looking for is an external DVD drive. A lot of software comes on DVD discs, not CDs, so a CD drive would greatly limit you. A DVD drive also will read and write CDs. You won't really find CD drives on the market any longer, and in any event I believe your intention was to find a disc drive and not one specific to CDs.

If all you need the disc drive for is to install programs for the scanner, I suggest you go to Epson's website and download the drivers and programs instead. You won't have to buy any hardware, and you may get more recent versions of the programs by downloading them rather than using the install discs that came with the hardware.

That said, I think having a disc drive is a very good idea and recommend you purchase one.

If you search on Amazon under B004W88SBE, you will find an LG multi drive that is earning lots of raves from owners. It has a disc tray, is powered by USB, and is plug and play with Macs. In fact, a lot of owners bought it to replace defective Apple drives.

I tried to locate the model number so you could choose among other vendors, but there are hundreds of these things (if not thousands) on the market and the Amazon ID number was the best reference I could find. The good news is it is currently on sale for $28, reduced from suggested retail of $79. Based on the reviews, I'd say it is easily worth $79, but the sale price makes it an amazing buy.


Question: Which types of flat panel televisions (LCD, LED, plasma, etc.) tolerate cold temperatures better? The man cave (garage) is insulated and has a nice heater, but the heat's not on all the time.

SKIP McFERRAN, Maple Grove, Minn.

Answer: I've been asked thus question many times before and the typical advice provided by manufacturers and owner's manuals is that if the TV has been stored in cold temperatures, allow it to warm up to room temperature before operating. A big reason for this is to prevent moisture from condensation from causing a short or malfunction.

Please note that LED and LCD are the same technology. LED just refers to the light source for the LCD panel. Calling a TV "LED" is misleading marketing fluff.

Given your situation I would get a moderately priced LCD model. I have not seen definitive tests of LCD vs. plasma in repeated cold/warm cycles, but LCD screens in cars across the world seem to handle the temperature changes just fine.

Read product reviews by Don Lindich at

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