The LaCie d2 Dual 8X DVD+/-RW Drive is an external DVD burner that's rated to write DVD+R and DVD-R at 8X--as fast as almost any other drive on the market at the time of this review. In addition, the drive writes to DVD+RW and DVD-RW at 4X, CD-R at 40X, and CD-RW at 24X. It's also portable as heck. Like all external burners, it can move easily from one system to another. The drive is twice as handy, with USB 2.0 and FireWire connections and Roxio's software for Windows and Macintosh systems. In spite of being an external burner, which are sometimes slower than their internal brethren, the d2 Dual 8X meets or beats the performance posted by comparable internal multiformat DVD writers. With an estimated street price of $239, the d2 Dual 8X is more expensive than its internal competition, as are most external drives, but it's also flexible, powerful, and nice-looking--in short, a worthwhile purchase.
Setting up the d2 Dual 8X is easy. If you're running Windows XP, plug it in and install the software. The documentation is a little thin--an unfortunate fact we discovered after encountering some problems with the drive on a Windows 98 SE system (our issue was with our system's USB interface, not the drive). The d2 Dual 8X will even work on a &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecomputerhope%2Ecom%2Fjargon%2Fu%2Fusb%2Ehtm">USB 1.1 connection, though of course it will read and write much slower.
LaCie has extensive experience making products for the design-conscious Macintosh market, and as a result, the d2 Dual 8X's housing is simple and elegant. While not quite as slick as the &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Flacie%2Ecom%2Fproducts%2Fproduct%2Ehtm%3Fid%3D10101">LaCie drives designed by F.A. Porsche, the d2 Dual 8X has an attractive matte-silver finish that should stand up to the trials of normal handling. The drive comes with USB and FireWire cables, and the 10-foot power cable should be long enough to reach just about any socket. LaCie even includes a piece of DVD-R media to get you started. There's no headphone jack on the front of the drive to let you listen to CDs directly, but that's a small matter.
As mentioned above, the d2 Dual 8X comes with software for Windows and Mac OS. Windows users get , a suite of disc-burning tools that worked well for us (but has an uneven reputation), and DVDMax Player (for DVD playback), but no software for backing up a system. Mac users get Roxio Toast Lite--Roxio's comprehensive disc-burning utility--and LaCie's own &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Elacie%2Ecom%2Fsilverkeeper%2F">SilverKeeper app for system backup.
LaCie's d2 Dual 8X is a strong performer and one of the faster drives we have tested, especially for an external burner. In the all-important DVD-write tests, with DVD+R the d2 Dual 8X came in behind only our Editors' Choice, internal drive; with DVD-R it delivered a competitive showing. The d2 Dual 8X also proved itself speedy with rewritable DVD media, both plus and dash.
LaCie backs the d2 Dual 8X with an industry-standard one-year limited warranty for U.S. customers. (Those lucky Europeans get two years.) The company offers free technical support by phone, weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, although it's a toll call. You can also pose questions through the company's Web site, where you'll find a FAQ, online copies of product manuals, and downloadable drivers and utilities.