HP DVD-Writer DVD100i drive review: HP DVD-Writer DVD100i drive

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
Pricing Unavailable
Reviewed:
Updated:

The Good Burns DVD movies or data on rewritable media; faster than competing DVD-R drives; also writes to CD-R and CD-RW.

The Bad DVD+RW media is not as compatible with older drives and players as DVD-R; drive won't support upcoming (and more compatible) DVD+R media.

The Bottom Line The DVD100i is an excellent, speedy drive for backup or for authoring DVD movies that will work in newer players. However, it can't match a DVD-R drive for compatibility with older drives and players.

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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 HP drive handily outperforms its rivals, such as QPS's DVD burner (DVD-RAM/R) and Pioneer's DVR-A03 (a.k.a. Apple's or LaCie's SuperDrive). It also functions as a 12X/10X/32X CD-R/RW drive and an 8X DVD-ROM. 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 HP drive handily outperforms its rivals, such as QPS's DVD burner (DVD-RAM/R) and Pioneer's DVR-A03 (a.k.a. Apple's or LaCie's SuperDrive). It also functions as a 12X/10X/32X CD-R/RW drive and an 8X DVD-ROM.

At $599 retail, the DVD100i debuts at a far lower price point than the $999 Pioneer DVR-A03 did last spring. However, thanks to a series of price drops, the DVR-A03 is now available for about $450 on the street, compared to $525 for the DVD100i. Thus, the DVD100i is both costlier and less compatible than its DVD-R competition. However, as we already mentioned, its performance trounces that of its rivals. Based on specs, the HP DVD100i writes to its native DVD+RW discs at a whopping 3.32MB per second (2.4X) compared to the QPS 's 1.38MB per second. CNET Labs' tests showed that for backing up data or writing movie files, the DVD100i was nearly twice as fast as the Que DVD burner; HP's product was also slightly faster when reading data from DVD. And it should easily outpace the slower DVR-A03 (a mere 8X/4X/32X drive) at CD-related tasks.

The DVD100i's out-of-box experience seems better suited to savvier 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 cord, a drive-to-sound-card cable, and a single DVD+RW disc also come with the drive. Additional DVD+RW media is available for a reasonable $10 to $16 a pop.

Through a mirror darkly
The trouble with DVD+RW is compatibility. The media has low reflectivity; thus, it's not nearly as compatible with legacy DVD-ROM drives and DVD movie players as the high-reflectivity DVD-R media supported by the SuperDrive and 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.

A well-rounded bundle
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 an 800MHz or better 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 tech support is available from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT. However, tech-support calls are on your dime, though HP claims an average hold time of five minutes or less. You can also get help via the company's well-organized 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.

To buy or not to buy
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 Aunt Jenny and her year-old drive or DVD player, 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.

Data write tests
Time, in minutes, to perform tasks (shorter bars indicate better performance)
Write a 383MB file to DVD-RAM or DVD+RW media   
Write 500MB directory to DVD-RAM or DVD+RW media   
HP DVD-Writer DVD100i (DVD+RW drive)
2.6 
4.5 
QPS Que DVD Burner (DVD-RAM/R)
5.8 
7.8 
 
Movie write tests
Movie files vary in size due to different compression rates, so write speed is measured in MB per second (longer bars indicate better performance)

HP DVD-Writer DVD100i (DVD+RW drive)
2.2 
QPS Que DVD Burner (DVD-RAM/R)
1.3 
 
Read tests
Time, in minutes, to perform tasks (shorter bars indicate better performance)
Copy the 383MB file from DVD-RAM or DVD+RW to hard drive   
Copy 500MB directory from DVD-RAM or DVD+RW to hard drive   
HP DVD-Writer DVD100i (DVD+RW drive)
2.1 
3.3 
QPS Que DVD Burner (DVD-RAM/R)
2.4 
4.1 
 
The HP DVD-Writer DVD100i was much faster than the QPS DVD burner when burning DVD movies and writing data. The read tests were also in the DVD100i's favor but showed a much smaller margin.

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Where to Buy

HP DVD-Writer DVD100i drive

Part Number: C9619AABA

MSRP: $444.43

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Write Speed 12x (CD) / 4x (DVD)
  • Rewrite Speed 10x (CD) / 2x (DVD)
  • Weight 2 lbs
  • Type DVD+RW
  • Read Speed 32x (CD) / 8x (DVD)