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Asus DRW-1608P internal DVD burner
If it's time to update your aging optical drive with something flashier but you don't have the budget for bells and whistles, consider the Asus DRW-1608P. This CD/DVD drive is inexpensive, handles a wide range of CD and DVD media (including both +R and -R double-layer DVDs), and performs comparably to other drives in its class. Asus even includes Ulead DVD-Video and Nero CD/DVD-Audio utilities to sweeten the deal. For installation novices, the lack of comprehensive documentation could be intimidating, but a tech-savvy friend can get you going.
The Asus DRW-1608P is available in three colors: white, beige, and black. The drive's faceplate looks just like those of countless other optical drives, offering a motorized drive tray, an Eject button, and a Busy (activity) LED. Music aficionados will be disappointed by the lack of a separate volume control or headphone jack. A quick glance at the back of the drive reveals a standard set of analog audio connections as well as jumper settings, a 40-pin ATAPI IDE interface, and a full-size power connector. The drive lacks a digital audio output.
Almost everything you need for a new installation is right in the box, including a 40-pin signal cable, a 4-pin analog audio cable, mounting screws, and even a small emergency-eject tool. The only thing missing is a detailed installation guide. Instead, you get a single pamphlet-size page of instruction that doesn't provide details on the ATAPI master/slave jumper process, nor any advice on primary/secondary IDE-channel installations. If you're stumped, you can find instructions at CNET's handy guide to installing CD/DVD drives. For experienced users, installation is standard. Once you've installed the drive and rebooted your computer, Windows will detect the drive and install the appropriate drivers.
The low price of the Asus DRW-1608P belies its versatility; it supports a full suite of disc formats, including both +R and -R double-layer discs. (The -R spec has been approved by the DVD Forum, but Asus is still testing its -R firmware upgrade; once the firmware upgrade has been approved, Asus will post it on its Web site.) The Asus ships with two handy applications: Ulead's DVD MovieFactory 3.5 SE and Nero's CD/DVD-writer suite (for data archives, backups, music preparation, and other popular disc-writing tasks). It's not the best bundle we've ever seen, but it's certainly useful.