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Addonics Pocket DVD-R/RW review: Addonics Pocket DVD-R/RW

MSRP: $469.00

The Good Compact size; excellent software bundle; can be powered via USB.

The Bad Writes DVD-R and DVD-RW at 1X; slow read speeds; requires an extra port when powered by USB; scant documentation; expensive.

The Bottom Line The Pocket DVD-RW's hefty price and slow speeds make it practical for only serious travelers where space is at a premium.

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6.5 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6
  • Support 7

The Addonics Pocket DVD-RW writes DVD-R and DVD-RW media at 1X and costs a bundle, which makes it tough to recommend for everyday use. Despite reliable performance, USB 2.0 support, and a great software bundle, the drive's compact size remains its strongest selling point. But with notebooks such as the Toshiba Tecra M1 already shipping with built-in DVD burners and with prices dropping, we question the usefulness of the Pocket DVD-RW. Consider this drive only if you're a frequent traveler who needs an ultraportable DVD burner. Sometimes, small things--such as the Addonics Pocket DVD-RW--come in big packages. In addition to the Pocket DVD-RW drive itself, this drive's box includes an AC/DC power adapter, a USB power cable, a proprietary USB cable, a user guide, a driver CD, and three software CDs. Addonics does not include any blank DVD or CD media.

We found the Pocket DVD-RW extremely easy to install. The burner supports both USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 connections, and it works with Windows 98 SE, Me, 2000, and XP. If your notebook lacks a USB 2.0 connection, you can purchase a CardBus adapter for around $30. The user guide is a bit thin on information, but you probably won't even need it. If you're running Windows Me, 2000, or XP, simply connect all of the cables, and the OS will automatically recognize the drive. If you use Windows 98, you will need to install the USB driver located on the included CD. Next, install the included mastering and DVD software. The whole process takes just a few minutes.

Who says size doesn't matter? Certainly no business traveler forced to lug around a notebook, a handheld, a cell phone, and other peripherals would make that claim. Fortunately, the Pocket DVD-RW weighs just 14 ounces and is about the size of two jewel cases stacked together. And because you can power the drive from a USB port using the included USB power cord, you can eliminate at least one power adapter from your bag. Unfortunately, you can't use the same USB cable for both power and data. This means that your notebook must have two free USB ports: one for power and one for data. (Also, you will drain your notebook battery faster if you power the drive through the USB port.) Still, if you ever find yourself on an airplane or away from a power outlet, this added feature will come in handy.

The drive itself is fairly plain-Jane. The front features a tray-eject button and an emergency-eject port. On the right side, there's a power switch and an audio line-out port, while the back of the drive features an MC36 connector and an AC/DC port. On top, the green power light turns orange when the drive is busy.

Ahead Software's easy-to-use Nero Express mastering application is the centerpiece of the software bundle.

To our disappointment, the drive writes DVD-R and DVD-RW media at only 1X. (To put this in perspective, we last tested a 1X DVD burner more than two years ago.) Like most other DVD burners, the Addonics device also burns CD-R and CD-RW media at 16X and 10X, respectively.

Addonics includes a very generous and capable software bundle, with Ahead Software Nero Express for DVD/CD mastering, the same company's InCD for packet-writing chores, Sonic MyDVD for video-DVD authoring, and CyberLink PowerDVD for DVD playback. In our tests, all of the applications worked very well. Each also offers user-friendly controls for novices, as well as many advanced features for burning enthusiasts.

Because of its slow 1X DVD-R and DVD-RW speeds, the Addonics Pocket DVD-RW revealed few surprises in CNET Labs' tests. It took almost 15 minutes to write a 3.24GB (1,050MB after compression) movie to DVD-R with an average throughput of 1.19MB per second. (While slow compared to today's 4X DVD recorders, this is actually quite fast for a 1X drive.) In packet-writing tests, it took 8 minutes, 33 seconds and 4 minutes, 48 seconds to drag and drop a 500MB folder and a 384MB file to DVD-RW, respectively.

The drive, however, took a painstakingly slow 21 minutes, 34 seconds to copy the same 500MB folder back to the hard drive. By comparison, the Micro Solutions Backpack DVD+RW (USB 2.0) took only 3 minutes, 24 seconds. (Note: The Backpack features 12X read speeds, while the Addonics offers only 8X.) The Addonics drive did better at copying the 384MB file back to the hard drive, taking less than 5 minutes.

As a CD burner, the Pocket DVD-RW offered decent performance. It burned a 42-minute audio CD in 5 minutes, 18 seconds, and it wrote a 400MB folder to CD-RW in 5 minutes, 17 seconds.

One more observation: During packet-writing tests, the Pocket DVD-RW took around 90 minutes to fully format a DVD-RW and about 20 minutes to fully format a CD-RW. In other words, make sure you carry already-formatted media with you. Otherwise, your airplane may land before you even get started. Most recent burners, by the way, can complete these tasks in less than 2 minutes.

Movie write  (Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Write a movie to write-once media  
Addonics Pocket DVD-RW (USB 2.0)
CenDyne DVR-105 4X DVD recordable (DVD-RW)
Verbatim Producer DVD+RW
Micro Solutions Backpack DVD+RW (USB 2.0)
Plextor PX-504A DVD+RW
Note: Compression rates may vary, so write speed is measured in megabytes per second.
Write tests
Time in minutes (Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Write a 500MB directory to rewritable media  
Write a 383MB file to rewritable media  
Plextor PX-504A DVD+RW
Micro Solutions Backpack DVD+RW (USB 2.0)
Verbatim Producer DVD+RW
CenDyne DVR-105 4X DVD recordable (DVD-RW)
Addonics Pocket DVD-RW (USB 2.0)
Read tests
Time in minutes (Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Copy a 500MB directory from rewritable media to the hard drive  
Copy a 383MB file from rewritable media to the hard drive  
Plextor PX-504A DVD+RW
CenDyne DVR-105 4X DVD recordable (DVD-RW)
Verbatim Producer DVD+RW
Micro Solutions Backpack DVD+RW (USB 2.0)
Addonics Pocket DVD-RW (USB 2.0)
Write tests
Time, in minutes, to complete tasks (Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Packet writing from hard drive to CD-RW (400MB directory)  
Audio burn to CD-R from image on hard drive (from a 43-min., 11-sec. audio CD)  
Addonics Pocket DVD-RW (USB 2.0)
Micro Solutions Backpack DVD+RW (USB 2.0)
Verbatim Producer DVD+RW
Plextor PX-504A DVD+RW
CenDyne DVR-105 4X DVD recordable
All write tests are run with both the drive's recommended media (submitted by the manufacturer) and with Verbatim media, rated at the drive's maximum speed. For more details on how we test optical drives, see the CNET Labs site.

Like all storage companies, Addonics backs the Pocket DVD-RW with a one-year limited warranty. Free (but not toll-free) technical support is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT. You can also contact Addonics technical support via e-mail or fax. The company's Web site offers the usual assortment of drivers, software updates, and FAQs.

The Addonics Web site contains basic support information.

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