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HP dvd630e review: HP dvd630e

This double-layer drive's reading and ripping speeds are lightning fast for an external drive, which balances out its slightly poky write speed.

Jon L. Jacobi
4 min read
HP dvd630e
Editors' note: We have changed the editor's rating for this product. Such changes are sometimes necessary to reflect the constant improvement in technology.

Though you'll lose a few seconds each time you write a DVD with the HP dvd630e, the minutes you'll save reading or ripping them--7 minutes on a 4.5GB single-layer disc and nearly 13 minutes on double-layer discs--more than compensates. You can save a couple of bucks with LaCie's d2 double-layer drive (check back for a review of the LaCie d2 drive in mid-December) if you write more discs than you read, and videophiles might want to wait for HP's new video-capturing, double-layer dc5000 Movie Writer. But the dvd630e is an excellent choice for those backing up movie collections. Of course, internal drives such as the BenQ DW1620 are faster and less expensive, but if you don't want to muck around with your computer's innards, you can't go wrong with the HP dvd630e.


HP dvd630e

The Good

Fast DVD reading; double-layer DVD+R writing.

The Bad

Subpar write times; double-layer media is pricey; lacks audio jacks.

The Bottom Line

This external drive is great for ripping DVDs but a tad slow when writing.

Installing the black-and-silver HP dvd630e is as simple as plugging in the power cord and the USB cable--our XP test bed recognized and installed the appropriate driver without user intervention. The drive is average size for an external unit: 6 inches wide, just under 10 inches long, and about 2 inches high. Its plain-Jane design provides only an eject button and an emergency-eject port on the front and USB 2.0 and AC jacks on the back. There are no audio jacks or CD controls on the unit, so forget using the drive as an ad-hoc CD player.

Aside from its 8X DVD-R performance, the HP dvd630e's speeds and feeds are nearly all on the cutting edge for external burners: it reads CD-ROMs at 40X and DVD-ROMs at 16X, while it writes CD-Rs at 40X, CD-RWs at 24X, DVD+Rs at 16X, DVD+RW/-RWs at 4X, and double-layer DVD+RWs at 2.4X. Instead of the usual Roxio or Nero software bundles, HP opts for a combination of ArcSoft's highly capable ShowBiz DVD video-editing and video-authoring system, Sonic's competent RecordNow (including the DLA packet-writing software) for data and audio chores, and CyberLink's excellent PowerDVD 5.0 for DVD movie playback. While we really like ShowBiz DVD, RecordNow doesn't offer as many features as Roxio or Nero. Most users, however, will be quite happy with this software bundle.

The HP dvd630e, while merely an average writer for its class, is a DVD reader par excellence. Compared to the quick-writing LaCie d2, which would've posted even faster writing times if we had had the fastest supported media during testing, the HP dvd630e loses 40 seconds writing a DVD-R and 15 seconds writing a DVD+R. It more than compensates for that shortfall, however, by ripping a single-layer DVD 7 minutes faster than the LaCie d2 and ripping dual-layer discs 13 minutes faster. The drive's performance reading and writing CDs was a bit slower than the LaCie's, and the dvd630e fell nearly a minute off its competitor's pace writing DVD+RW and DVD-RW formats, but once again, the drive compensated by turning in the fastest rewritable read times we've seen.

DVD movie rip/burn tests (min:sec)
(Shorter bars indicate faster performance)
4.4GB Video burn test  
4.4GB DVD Video rip test (from DVD)  
LaCie 16X d2 (16X DVD-R) *
HP dvd630e (8X DVD-R)
LaCie 16X d2 (16X DVD+R)
HP dvd630e (16X DVD+R)
Memorex True 8X (8X DVD+R)
Memorex True 8X (8X DVD-R)
HP dc4000 (8X DVD+R)
HP dc4000 (8X DVD-R)
Note: * As 16X DVD-R media were not available at the time of testing, 8X media were used--which the LaCie drive writes to at 12X.

Double-layer DVD movie rip/burn tests (min:sec)
(Shorter bars indicate faster performance)
7.9GB DVD Video burn test  
7.9GB DVD Video rip test (from DVD)  
LaCie 16X d2 (4X double-layer DVD+R) *
HP dvd630e (2.4X double-layer DVD+R)
HP dc4000 **
Memorex True 8X **
Note: * The LaCie drive was unable to write to our 2.4X DVD+R DL Verbatim media at 4X. LaCie was unable to provide alternate media, so the LaCie drive was tested at 2.4X. ** Neither the HP nor the Memorex drive writes to double-layer media.

CD audio rip/burn tests (min:sec)
(Shorter bars indicate faster performance)
74:35 CD audio burn test  
74:35 CD audio rip test  
LaCie 16X d2 (32X CD-R)
HP dvd630e (40X CD-R)
Memorex True 8X (32X CD-R)
HP dc4000 (24X CD+R)

RW read/write tests (min:sec)
(Shorter bars indicate faster performance)
4.22GB RW write test  
4.22GB RW read test  
HP dc4000 (4X DVD+RW)
Memorex True 8X (4X DVD+RW)
LaCie 16X d2 (16X DVD+R)
Memorex True 8X (4X DVD-RW)
LaCie 16X d2 (16X DVD-R)
HP dc4000 (4X DVD-RW)
HP dvd630e (4X DVD+RW)
HP dvd630e (4X DVD-RW)

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.

HP backs the dvd630e with an industry-standard one-year warranty and provides 24/7 toll-free phone support to augment the very competent printed documentation. The company's Web site offers a decent amount of information, though when we checked, most of the FAQs were software related, and we couldn't find a downloadable manual. E-mail support is provided, and you can also subscribe to an e-mail list to alert you to firmware and driver updates.


HP dvd630e

Score Breakdown

Setup 7Features 5Performance 5Support 7