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Philips DVDRW208 DVD+RW EIDE review:

Philips DVDRW208 DVD+RW EIDE

  • 1
MSRP: $399.99
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The Good Easy installation; good mastering software; writes to CD-R and CD-RW media; buffer-underrun protection.

The Bad No DVD-R or DVD+R support; minimal backup software; poor Web-site support.

The Bottom Line The Philips DVDRW208 creates video discs that will play on many DVD players. The drive can burn CD-Rs and CD-RWs as well, but because it lacks the newer DVD+R capability, its days are numbered.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

6.0 Overall

The DVDRW208 is a DVD+RW (rewritable) drive from Philips, which means it can burn movies or data to DVD+RW media, as well as CD-Rs and CD-RWs. Many standard DVD players will read the DVD+RWs that you can create with this drive, but the Philips DVDRW208 does not support any DVD write-once media, such as the less expensive DVD-Rs or the new DVD+R media. And because Philips plans on releasing a DVD+R-capable drive soon, this otherwise versatile device is doomed. The DVDRW208 is a DVD+RW (rewritable) drive from Philips, which means it can burn movies or data to DVD+RW media, as well as CD-Rs and CD-RWs. Many standard DVD players will read the DVD+RWs that you can create with this drive, but the Philips DVDRW208 does not support any DVD write-once media, such as the less expensive DVD-Rs or the new DVD+R media. And because Philips plans on releasing a DVD+R-capable drive soon, this otherwise versatile device is doomed.

Installation walk-through on CD
Because the printed documentation for the $500 DVDRW208 is astonishingly brief, installation looks a little intimidating at first. But if you pop the included CD into a functioning optical drive on your computer before connecting the DVD+RW drive, everything becomes clear. The CD leads you through the entire process--and includes a video describing how to connect the drive--so even novices should feel comfortable with the process. More printed material would be nice, but the CD contains a detailed manual and other materials that should be sufficient for most users.

Software supply
The Philips drive is compatible with Windows 98, NT 4.0, 2000, Me, and XP, and its software bundle is appropriate for the drive's mission, with one notable exception. You get Sonic Solution's MyDVD, a simple DVD-authoring program, as well as the easy Ahead Nero Burning ROM 5, which is good for both DVD- and CD-writing tasks. You also get CyberLink PowerDVD decoder software for watching DVD movies on your computer. The one hole in the package is the lack of a backup utility; you can use Nero 5 for backups, but it doesn't compare to a full-fledged backup application.

In CNET Labs' tests, the Philips DVDRW208 was faster than the Panasonic LF-D321U DVD burner in our movie-write test and one of our read tests, but it was a bit slower in the other write and read benchmarks. The differences weren't significant enough to give either drive an advantage, though.

Two roads diverged in a wood
The Philips and Panasonic drives diverge in terms of the media they support. The Philips DVDRW208 reads all common CD formats, and unlike the Panasonic drive, it can also write to inexpensive CD-Rs and CD-RWs. If you need more capacity than CDs offer, you can use the 4.7GB DVD+RWs--at a pricey $15 each--to archive large chunks of the multigigabyte hard drives that are common on most computer systems these days. And because the media is rewritable, you can easily write over the old data when it changes.

There's one sore point on the issue of media support. The Philips DVDRW208's box clearly states that you can also write to DVD+Rs (which are different from the standard DVD-Rs), but the drive cannot actually do this. Philips originally intended to offer an upgrade that would add this function, but it turned out not to be feasible. According to a Philips representative, the company won't be offering an upgrade but instead plans to release a new drive that will support writing to both DVD+RW and DVD+R media.

Philips backs the DVDRW208 with a one-year exchange warranty. Unfortunately, the company's Web site is practically devoid of any information about the drive, which greatly diminishes Philips's score for support. At least you can get help by phone; tech support is toll-free and available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET.

End of a life
The real strength of the Philips DVDRW208 lies in its ability to write not only to DVD+RWs but also to CD-R and CD-RW media. This gives the device more flexibility, especially if you have room for only one drive in your system. But the lack of DVD-R or DVD+R support is hard to overlook. In light of the upcoming release of the second generation of DVD+RW drives, you might want to hold on to your cash until then.

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   
Panasonic LF-D321U (DVD-RAM/R)
2.44 
3.29 
HP DVD100i (DVD+RW)
2.58 
4.53 
Philips DVDRW208 (DVD+RW)
3.13 
4.01 
Sony DRU110A/C1 (DVD+RW)
3.36 
4.13 
QPS Que DVD burner (DVD-RAM/R)
5.75 
7.78 
 
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 DVD100i (DVD+RW)
2.22 
Sony DRU110A/C1 (DVD+RW)
2.10 
Philips DVDRW208 (DVD+RW)
1.98 
Panasonic LF-D321U (DVD-RAM/R)
1.32 
QPS Que DVD burner (DVD-RAM/R)
1.30 
 
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 DVD100i (DVD+RW)
2.13 
3.27 
QPS Que DVD burner (DVD-RAM/R)
2.42 
4.08 
Panasonic LF-D321U (DVD-RAM/R)
2.59 
5.35 
Philips DVDRW208 (DVD+RW)
2.05 
6.67 
Sony DRU110A/C1 (DVD+RW)
2.89 
12.30 
 
The Philips fell behind the Panasonic DVD burner on most read and write tests. However, it trumped the Panasonic on one read test and during the movie-write benchmark. The differences weren't significant enough to give either drive a performance advantage, though.

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