Delivering superior performance in every major CD- and DVD-recording format, IBM's Multi-Burner Plus offers an outstanding combination of flexibility, value, and performance. It also represents a major upgrade to IBM's original Multi-Burner DVD rewriter, which could burn only "minus" media: DVD-R, DVD-RW, and DVD-RAM. In addition to adding support for DVD+R and DVD+RW, the Multi-Burner Plus boosts DVD-RAM performance by 50 percent and doubles its predecessor's CD-R and CD-RW burning speeds. The Multi-Burner Plus also ships with a generous bundle of video-editing, data-backup, packet-writing, media-player, CD-mastering, and DVD-authoring applications. And although it doesn't support the new 4X DVD+RW and 8X DVD+R recording speeds, it turned in solid results when benchmarked against other drives in its class.
Physically installing the IBM Multi-Burner Plus was uneventful in our tests. Like most other DVD rewriters we've tested, we simply inserted the drive into an external bay and attached the ribbon and power cables.
Installing IBM's software was just as straightforward, although more tedious. The Multi-Burner Plus's setup utility, while easy to use, requires you to load each major application one at a time, a process that can take nearly half an hour and that involves rebooting the system six times if you install the entire bundle.
IBM's setup utility gives you total control over which modules you want to install, but it's cumbersome, forcing you to install each application separately.
The Multi-Burner Plus ships with no blank media and virtually no printed documentation, and the 22-page quick-install manual on the drive's software CD contains mostly warranty, safety, copyright, and emissions data. The CD also includes, however, a 56-page user guide that covers basic installation and configuration chores, as well as troubleshooting, configuration, and support information. Luckily, our installation went smoothly, and we had little need for additional documentation.
The Multi-Burner Plus's biggest selling point is its support for all variations of the five major DVD-recording and DVD-rewriting formats. It doesn't support cartridge-encased DVD-RAM media, however--you must remove the cartridge to use it--nor does it support the recently released 4X DVD+RW or 8X DVD+R media. The other five-format drives we've reviewed suffer the same limitations.
IBM has done an impressive job leveraging the Multi-Burner Plus's functionality with a terrific software bundle. Most of the Multi-Burner Plus's bundled applications are IBM-branded versions of Sonic Solutions programs: the RecordNow CD-mastering package, the Simple Backup automated system-backup software, and the DLA packet-writing and UDF disc-reading utilities. The package also includes InterVideo's WinDVD media player and WinDVD 321 Studios' DVD X Copy Xpress, but IBM's integrated software package rivals most consumer DVD-burning applications., a full-featured DVD-creation application that lets you capture and edit video clips, create disc menus, and burn content to various types of DVD and CD. DVD professionals may prefer to use their favorite high-end authoring and mastering programs, and many users will want to add a DVD-copying utility, such as or
The Multi-Burner Plus's large software bundle includes InterVideo's powerful WinDVD Creator package for capturing, editing, and authoring video.
Overall, the Multi-Burner Plus's performance, while uneven, was more or less in line with our expectations. It writes "minus" media at the maximum 2X DVD-RW, 4X DVD-R, and 3X DVD-RAM speeds currently defined by the &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Edvdforum%2Eorg%2Fforum%2Eshtml" target="_blank">DVD Forum. It can read single-layer replicated DVDs at a sizzling 16.2X, but it reads dual-layer discs, which include most commercial DVD titles, and recordable and rewritable media at a maximum of only 8X. Its 24X CD-R and 16X CD-RW specs are competitive for a DVD/CD combo drive, but like most other five-format drives, its 2.4X DVD+RW and 4X DVD+R speeds are a generation behind the state-of-the-art.