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HP DVD-Writer DVD100i

If speed were the only measure, Hewlett Packard's DVD-Writer DVD100i would have a clear lead among the emerging DVD storage technologies -- DVD-RAM, DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD+RW. This jack-of-all-trades DVD+RW drive outperforms rivals such as Pioneer's DVR-A03 DVD-RW drive. It also functions as a 12X/10X/32X CD-R/RW drive and an 8X DVD-ROM drive.
Written by Jon L.Jacobi, Contributor on
7.0/10

HP DVD-Writer DVD100i drive

Very good
Pros
  • Burns video or data on rewritable media;
  • faster than competing DVD-R drives;
  • also writes CD-RW and CD-R media.
Cons
  • DVD+RW media are not compatible with older drives and players;
  • doesn't support forthcoming DVD+R media.
  • Editors' Review
  • Specs

If speed were the only measure, Hewlett Packard's DVD-Writer DVD100i would have a clear lead among the emerging DVD storage technologies -- DVD-RAM, DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD+RW. This jack-of-all-trades DVD+RW drive outperforms rivals such as Pioneer's DVR-A03 DVD-RW drive. It also functions as a 12X/10X/32X CD-R/RW drive and an 8X DVD-ROM drive.

At £549 (ex. VAT), the DVD100i debuts at a lower price point than the £699 (ex. VAT) Pioneer DVR-A03 did last spring, although Pioneer's drive is now available for under £500 (ex. VAT) on the street. Thus, the DVD100i is both costlier and less compatible than its DVD-RW competition. However, as we already mentioned, its performance is excellent. Based on specifications, the HP DVD100i writes to its native DVD+RW discs at a whopping 3.32MB per second (2.4X) compared to the Pioneer DVR-A03's 1.38MB/sec. HP's drive should also easily outpace the DVR-A03 (an 8X/4X/32X drive) at CD-related tasks.

The DVD100i's out-of-box experience seems better suited to experienced users than novices. The multilingual installation guide is barely enough to get you started, but there's a setup video on the software CD, and the software installation itself is painless. An IDE cable, a drive-to-sound-card cable and a single DVD+RW disc also come with the drive. Additional DVD+RW media are available at the reasonable cost of around £10 (ex. VAT) each.

The trouble with DVD+RW is compatibility. The media has low reflectivity, which means that it's not nearly as compatible with legacy DVD-ROM drives and DVD movie players as the high-reflectivity DVD-R media supported by competing DVD-RAM/R drives. This makes sharing data or movies with friends via DVD+RW potentially problematic. The DVD+RW developers group will be introducing a high-reflectivity DVD+R media that should be readable by more drives and players. However, the DVD100i won't be able to write to DVD+R without a firmware upgrade, which HP doesn't plan on providing. At least the company doesn't try to whitewash the compatibility issue -- it lists all the current drives and players that can read DVD+RW media on its Web site.

Unless you're planning on producing professional videos, the DVD100i's software bundle should take care of all of your video-capture and disc-creation needs. Sonic's MyDVD is provided for easy creation of DVD-movie discs. The program lets you storyboard your masterpiece by importing and converting files, capturing video and the like. It even lets you record directly to a DVD+RW disc from a DV source such as a camera. One caveat: MyDVD requires at least an 800MHz CPU.

HP provides RecordNow to take care of audio and data CD-mastering chores, while the company's Simple Backup program adds backup and disaster-recovery capabilities. The DLA (Drive Letter Access) program lets you use DVD+RW discs like floppies, randomly copying and erasing files via the standard Windows interface. PowerDVD is included to play DVD movies.

HP offers the industry standard one-year warranty on the DVD100i, and you can get help via the company's well-organised support pages. Because the drive is new, there are few upgrades or patches, but you can find the usual drivers, applications, product manuals and troubleshooting information there.

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If you don't care about compatibility with older DVD hardware, then the DVD100i is a great drive for backing up your system or creating DVD movies. But if you want to author DVDs for older drives or DVD players, you might want to opt for a DVD-RW drive or wait for the next generation of DVD+RW drives that have DVD+R capability.

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