This week I’m going to be quite topical and talk about what I was lucky enough to get for Christmas however I’ll save you all the boredom and exclude the usual stories about socks, jumpers and aftershave.

This year, to go with my laptop I thought it might be a good idea for me to get a CD-RW and DVD drive so that I could burn CD’s and play DVD’s when I go back to Cardiff next week.Such a device, I discovered was extremely expensive as, unlike a desktop PC, the drive I needed would have to sit outside the computer rather than inside the machine because of the obvious size differences between a desktop and laptop machine.

At first, one of the most promising products I found while looking for my present was something like the Iomega USB CD Re-Writer which didn’t have the DVD facility and came in at a whopping £169.99 which seemed a bit excessive for what it was.Now, the story doesn’t end there because undeterred, I continued searching for alternative products and eventually came across the Freecom Drive-In kit.This product is perfect for those of you who, like me would like a CD Re-Writer and DVD drive for their laptop machine or those who require to be able to transport their CD unit from machine to machine on a regular basis – For example to take the unit from the office to home and vice versa.

Basically it’s a box in which you sit a normal Internal PC CD-Drive.The box has connection on the back so that you can then plug this into a laptop or PCs USB socket.This obviously necessitates that you actually have an internal CD-ROM drive to put into this box but as these are about a third of the price of laptop CD-Drives then that shouldn’t be a problem.After a quick look around the Internet, I managed to find the above mentioned converter box for £59.99 from and an Internal drive that had CD Rewriter and DVD capability built into it for approximately £80 from

When the pair arrived, I spent about 60 seconds putting the two together which therefore made this Internal CD Drive compatible with my laptop and any other USB PC machine I choose to plug the unit into.

The total cost of the unit was now standing at £140 + P&P – £30 cheaper than the Iomega unit which was just a CD-Re-Writer with no DVD facility.Obviously you would get a greater saving if you actually already had a CD-RW or DVD drive in your existing home computer which you could use.

A saving of £30 is of course no good if the unit itself isn’t up to standard but luckily I have yet to experience any problems.When using the device with Windows XP, I didn’t even have to re-boot when the drive was installed for the first time.I simply plugged it in and Windows recognised the presence of a new drive and set it up accordingly, adding a new drive letter to My Computer which I could then burn CD’s straight on to or view DVD movies or data disks.Once the unit has been installed on your machine once, subsequent times when you plug it in will take a matter of about 2 seconds to install and configure – You don’t even have to turn the machine off.

On the downside, data writing speed is not too hot as the maximum speed for writing a CD is 1000k/s (around 6 speed), but this is due to the restrictions of USB as the technology can’t handle anything faster.6 Speed is still fast enough for most people and there are PCMCIA and Firewire clones of this device available if you require anything faster.

This is a device that I will recommend for those with similar needs to myself – Installation was very easy although I have not had a chance to try it on alternative Operating Systems such as Windows 98 or Linux so cannot comment on their compatibility.All information is correct at the time of writing to the best of my knowledge although please check before purchase.

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.