Abstract: Multimedia computing has done a lot to stimulate the popularity of CD-ROM. But at the same time, it has created a need for better and faster drives that support new data formats. CD-ROM-based applications such as multi-session PhotoCD and Quicktime video are raising expectations among consumers who want faster performance for less money. In turn, drive manufacturers are developing products that are significantly faster and more sophisticated than those of just a year or two ago. By and large, drive features are similar, but there are a few standouts, especially among high-end models. To sort through the numerous company claims and counterclaims, we analyzed 12 of the most popular drives from NEC, Sony, Toshiba, Pioneer, Texel Hitachi, Procom, Chinon, and Apple.