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LaCie DVD-R/RW External FireWire review:

LaCie DVD-R/RW External FireWire

  • 1
MSRP: $469.00
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The Good Writes to DVD-R/RW (video and data) and CD-R/RW media; plays DVD movies.

The Bad High price; bulky; no Macintosh support (despite claims on company's Web site); loud fan.

The Bottom Line If you absolutely need a CD-RW/DVD-RW drive, the LaCie DVD/CD Rewritable will work, but you may want to wait for prices to come down on this new technology.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

5.0 Overall

The LaCie DVD/CD Rewritable is an external FireWire (IEEE 1394) version of the SuperDrive that Apple's installing in its top two Power Mac G4 models. It works as advertised, creating CDs and DVD movie discs, but unfortunately, the $989 price tag of the LaCie makes it one of the more expensive combo drives on the market--especially if you have to supply your own FireWire card. What's more, the claim on LaCie's Web site that the drive supports Macintosh is misleading: The DVD/CD Rewritable drive currently works with only Windows machines. The LaCie DVD/CD Rewritable is an external FireWire (IEEE 1394) version of the SuperDrive that Apple's installing in its top two Power Mac G4 models. It works as advertised, creating CDs and DVD movie discs, but unfortunately, the $989 price tag of the LaCie makes it one of the more expensive combo drives on the market--especially if you have to supply your own FireWire card. What's more, the claim on LaCie's Web site that the drive supports Macintosh is misleading: The DVD/CD Rewritable drive currently works with only Windows machines.

Massive storage
The DVD-R/RW functions are useful for more than just making movies. You can store up to 9.4GB of data on a single, double-sided disc, making 700MB CD media look puny by comparison. The drive can write to DVD-R media at 2.77MB per second and to DVD-RW media at 1.385MB per second. However, CNET Labs' tests show that the drive's CD-R/RW functions are slower (8X/4X/32X) than those of current (and cheaper) CD-only burners.

The LaCie CD/DVD Rewritable drive seems to contradict the FireWire image in a couple of ways: Anyone holding the notion that FireWire drives are sleek and light will be disappointed with the large case that surrounds the drive, not to mention its noisy fan. And then there's the drive's compatibility--or lack thereof: LaCie's Web site claims that the CD/DVD Rewritable "can be quickly and easily connected to the FireWire (IEEE 1394) ports on Macintosh systems." While it is true that you can connect this drive to a Mac, LaCie admits you won't be able to do much with it. No Mac drivers or software ship with the CD/DVD Rewritable, but LaCie says that it's planning Macintosh support.

Standard-issue software
The Windows software bundle that ships with the drive is fairly basic. MyDVD, a DVD-authoring tool from Sonic Solutions, is the main piece of software. Its feature set sticks to basic tasks, such as creating buttons and burning discs, and doesn't stray into options that let you tweak settings or do professional-quality editing. However, MyDVD isn't simple enough to let you get by without reading the manual, which is installed on your hard drive. Once your video is set up, you can use the Make DVD Disc command in the Build menu to burn your DVD. MyDVD supports MPEG-2 encoding for professional-quality video, and MPEG-1 encoding, which uses less disc space. Other software includes PowerDVD, which plays DVD movies, and PrimoDVD 2.0, a data-recording utility from Prassi that lets you burn CDs. All the software worked as advertised.

The drive comes with a one-year warranty. We couldn't find any support information for the DVD/CD Rewritable drive on LaCie's Web site, but that could be because the drive is so new. Telephone support is free (but not toll-free) and lasts for the length of the warranty.

The high price of the LaCie DVD/CD Rewritable drive makes it hard to recommend. For PC users interested in a CD-R/RW and DVD-R/RW combo, an internal IDE drive makes more sense. Apple users should shop around for a drive with Mac support.

Write tests
Time, in minutes, to complete tasks (shorter bars indicate better performance)
Audio burn to CD-R from image on hard drive (from 43 min., 11 sec. audio CD)   
Single-session data burn to CD-R (500MB directory)   
Packet-write from hard drive to CD-RW (400MB directory)   
TDK VeloCD 16X10X40
3.5 
4.7 
6.5 
Plextor PlexWriter 16/10/40A (16X/10X/40X)
3.4 
4.1 
7.2 
HP CD-Writer DVD Combo 9900ci (12X/10X/32X)
6.5 
4.5 
6.5 
LaCie DVD/CD Rewritable (8X/4X/32X)
6.5 
7.1 
12.9 
 
Audio extraction tests
Time, in minutes, to extract a 26-minute, 58-second audio track (shorter bars indicate better performance)

TDK VeloCD 16X10X40
0.9 
Plextor PlexWriter 16/10/40A (16X/10X/40X)
1.2 
HP CD-Writer DVD Combo 9900ci (12X/10X/32X)
1.3 
LaCie DVD/CD Rewritable (8X/4X/32X)
3.7 
 
Read tests
Time, in minutes, to install Microsoft Office 2000 Small Business Edition (shorter bars indicate better performance)

TDK VeloCD 16X10X40
3.5 
Plextor PlexWriter 16/10/40A (16X/10X/40X)
3.2 
HP CD-Writer DVD Combo 9900ci (12X/10X/32X)
3.4 
LaCie DVD/CD Rewritable (8X/4X/32X)
3.9 
 
We tested the LaCie DVD/CD Rewritable's write performance to CD media. It performs in line with its 8X/4X/32X ratings, or at about half the speed of today's CD-R/RW drives.

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