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Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. (7/1/05)
Double-layer DVD burning takes a significant step forward with the LaCie d2 DL 16X DVD+/-RW USB 2.0/FireWire burner. The external device offers the fastest double-layer (DL) burn speed available--4X--as well as speedy USB 2.0 and FireWire ports for connecting it to your PC or Mac. These fast specs helped it seize some top spots in CNET Labs' performance tests. And unlike the DL discs burned by most of the earlier double-layer drives, the double-layer discs burned by the LaCie d2 worked in all of the DVD players we tried. It all adds up to a fairly impressive drive--with a less impressive sticker price. If you're dying for an external DL drive, go for this device. If not, hold off a few months until prices come down.
Because the LaCie d2 DL 16X DVD+/-RW is an external drive, you won't have to hassle with cracking open your computer's case to install it. On the other hand, it means one more external component to clutter your work space. The drive has two horizontal grooves running down its sides for placement in a rack mount, helping you minimize the mess. No matter where you put the drive, its unobtrusive, silver-and-black color scheme lets it blend into the background.
When you're ready to install the LaCie d2 DL 16X burner, don't bother with its abbreviated quick-install guide. Instead, head directly to its more detailed user manual, which includes larger illustrations that point out the drive's ports and features. Among those drawings are close-ups of the drive's FireWire and USB 2.0 ports and cables--a nice touch that helps newbies who don't know the difference between the two. The manual also offers handy explanations for how to install the device on both Mac and Windows machines. Installing the burner involves little more than plugging in two cables--one to an AC outlet, the other to either your computer's FireWire or USB port. Software installation is also a simple task, since the device ships with just a couple of Roxio's basic burning apps: for Windows, LaCie bundles for 2000 and XP and for 98 SE and Me. Mac users have a choice of Toast Lite 5.2.2 for OS 9.1 and higher and Toast Lite 6.0 for OS 10.2 and higher. The only other app is Roxio's no-frills DVDMax player. We like most of these apps, though we liked Nero better than Roxio for 98 SE and Me because Nero offers perks for both newbies and pros, whereas Roxio falls short for advanced users.
The LaCie d2 DL 16X DVD+/-RW burner offers some of the fastest speed ratings on the market. Double-layer burn speed comes in at 4X. In CNET Labs' tests, this stat enabled the LaCie to burn a 7.9GB DVD movie (on 2.4X media) more than 2.5 minutes faster than the . However, these scores were offset by the HP's rip time, which was nearly 13 minutes faster than the LaCie's.
The LaCie d2's 16X DVD+/-RW burn speed helped it earn exceptionally fast scores in our Labs' 4.4GB, single-layer DVD burn tests. But the HP dvd630e proved the rip champ, with its nearly six-minute-faster DVD+R rip time. The LaCie's last, but not least, scores of note were its audio-CD rip/burn times, both of which were slightly quicker than the HP's--despite the latter's 40X CD-R speed rating (the LaCie's is 32X). In fact, the LaCie drive's DVD video rip performance is significantly slower than that of most other similar drives, which is a significant consideration for anyone who plans to use the drive to rip DVD videos.
In the d2 DL 16X DVD+/-RW, LaCie has righted some of the disc-compatibility wrongs found in earlier DL drives. The DL discs we burned in the LaCie drive worked in all six of our DVD playback devices, which included both set-top players and PC-attached DVD recorders.
LaCie backs the drive with an industry-standard one-year warranty but loses points by offering toll-based phone support for the drive. Worse, tech-support lines are open only Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., PT. You won't get much help from the company's support Web site, which includes a confusing FAQ database that prompts you to search according to keyword, then spits out random FAQs that aren't necessarily applicable to the d2 DL 16X.
|4.4GB DVD Video burn test||4.4GB DVD Video rip test (from DVD Video)|
** The TDK drive writes to 8X DVD-R media at 12X.
|7.9GB DVD Video burn test||7.9GB DVD Video rip test (from DVD Video)|
|74:35 CD Audio burn test||74:35 CD Audio rip test|
|4.22GB RW write test||4.22GB RW read test|
Unless otherwise mentioned, all write tests are run with Verbatim media, rated at the drive's maximum speed. Find out more about how we test optical drives.