HP DVD-Writer DVD200i

hp-dvd-200i-lead.jpg
  • Editors' rating
    7.4 Very good
  • $499.99

Pros

  • Fast DVD+RW rewritable and DVD+R recordable performance;
  • also writes to CD-R and CD-RW media;
  • reads all current DVD media types.

Cons

  • Emergency eject hole accepts only small-diameter paper clips.

HP's DVD-Writer DVD200i could be the DVD-movie-burning solution of your dreams. A speedy, second-generation DVD+RW drive that can now write to DVD+R recordable discs as well as older DVD+RW, CD-R and CD-RW media, the DVD200i is an all-in-one optical drive par excellence. The new DVD+R media's compatibility with DVD-ROM drives and movie players also looks promising, although we're still testing a variety of discs to make sure.

HP ships the £349 (ex. VAT) DVD200i, which is compatible with Windows 98 and later, with a healthy collection of documentation, software and accessories. The paperwork includes a quick-start poster, a colourful software manual and a troubleshooting guide. HP also packs an audio cable, an 80-pin IDE cable and mounting screws, as well as one DVD+R and one DVD+RW disc in the box. The DVD200i is no more difficult to install than any other internal drive -- the process is only daunting if you're afraid of opening your computer. One minor gripe: the drive's emergency-eject hole can be accessed with only the smallest of paper clips -- very frustrating if you don't have any handy.

The DVD200i's software bundle is necessarily copious to handle the myriad tasks that the drive performs. The easy-to-use (but somewhat limited) RecordNow program lets you master data DVDs and CDs. DLA (Drive Letter Access) takes care of packet writing to both DVD+RW and CD-RW media. For mastering movies, you can turn to Sonic Solutions’ MyDVD, while ArcSoft’s Showbiz takes care of advanced video editing. HP also includes Simple Backup to address your backup chores and CyberLink’s PowerDVD for DVD movie playback.

In the majority of our performance tests, the DVD200i performed well. The 2.4X-rated DVD200i wrote a 383MB file to rewritable media nearly 30 per cent faster than its predecessor, the DVD100i. However, HP’s new drive took more than a minute longer than the DVD100i to write a 500MB batch of small files. The new drive picked up the pace when reading data from rewritable discs to the system’s hard disk: it was between 48 per cent faster (500MB directory) and 105 per cent faster (383MB file) than the DVD100i. Where the DVD200i excelled was in movie mastering: it burned a movie file to DVD+R at nearly 3MB per second, 33 per cent faster than the DVD100i. Like Sony’s competing DRU110A, the DVD200i can format DVD+RW media in the background without using up system resources.

But performance is only one criterion for judging DVD recordable drives, especially if you plan to burn home-movie discs. A pre-burned DVD+R provided by HP worked in every player we tested it in, including some real antiques that wouldn't play DVD-Rs. This initial success is promising, but it's still early in the DVD+R game: we'll continue to test this disc and others we've burned ourselves in as many drives and players as possible.

HP provides a one-year warranty on the DVD200i drive. The company's Web site includes a list of DVD+RW-compatible DVD-ROM drives and players, but so far lacks a list for DVD+R. For those of you stuck with older DVD100i drives that can't use DVD+R media, HP’s offers an upgrade program: send in your old drive along with £91 and a pre-June 10 receipt before July 30, and you'll get a new DVD200i drive complete with software. For more details, look here.

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HP’s DVD200i is an impressive performer and an excellent choice as a backup drive. Furthermore, DVD+R media may prove to be the most compatible DVD-recordable format. If you want or need a DVD burner today, a DVD+RW drive such as the DVD200i is a sensible choice.

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