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I/OMagic IDVDRW8D review: I/OMagic IDVDRW8D

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The Good Supports four popular DVD-recordable formats; writes DVD+R at 8X; good software bundle; helpful documentation.

The Bad Weak performance; some last-generation speed ratings.

The Bottom Line Many multiformat DVD drives offer better performance and faster speeds than I/OMagic's IDVDRW8D.

6.0 Overall

I/OMagic's most recent foray into the multiformat DVD drive arena comes at an inviting price, $150 at the time of this writing, but also with somewhat lackluster performance and rumors of compatibility issues. The IDVDRW8D can write DVD+R at 8X--as fast as any other drive on the market--and DVD-R at 4X, which is just a step behind state-of-the-art drives. It can also write to CD-R at 40X and CD-RW at 24X. The IDVDRW8D comes bundled with a complete package of software from Pinnacle, including the older but solid Studio 8.0 SE video-editing app and the decent Instant CD/DVD burning suite. Still, plenty of better-performing DVD drives are out there, such as Plextor's excellent PX-708A, which writes DVD+R and DVD-R at 8X (and on less expensive 4X media) and which we found online for about the same price as the IDVDRW8D. However, if you're a casual CD and DVD burner and you find this drive selling at a deep discount, it'll get the job done.

Installing I/OMagic's internal IDVDRW8D is a fairly routine process if you know your way around the inside of a PC--your only decision will be whether to change the master/slave pin settings (they default to master). For first-timers, I/OMagic includes a handy and comprehensive illustrated installation poster that walks you through every step of the setup process. If you're still feeling lost and scared, check out CNET's How to install a burner feature. I/OMagic includes all of the hardware you'll need: an IDE cable, mounting screws, and an audio connector.

Installing the software is a somewhat tedious process. You'll have to load three different programs, each requiring a separate serial number, from two separate CDs. The back of the installation poster provides some cursory details about how to use the various Pinnacle software components. Unfortunately, there's no other written documentation and no user guide on the included installation CDs, so if you run into any problems, you may need to call I/OMagic's tech support.

The IDVDRW8D looks like any other putty-colored optical drive, though the front panel offers some extras, including a headphone jack, a volume control, and a track advance button--niceties that have fallen out of favor with some drive makers. The drive also has all the standard features, such as a power light, an eject button, and an emergency-eject hole; and the back panel is home to the usual IDE and power connectors, digital and analog audio ports, and master/slave configuration jumpers, all of which are clearly marked.

The included applications from Pinnacle, Studio 8.0 SE and Instant CD/DVD, are competent and will give you a basic but complete set of tools for video editing and CD and DVD authoring. The other bundled application, InterVideo WinDVD, for DVD playback, is also solid. Along with large, easy-to-read controls, WinDVD has some cool features, including time stretching, which lets you accelerate or slow down video with minimal audio distortion.

As mentioned above, I/OMagic's IDVDRW8D offers best-of-breed speed with plus media, writing DVD+R at 8X and DVD+RW at 4X, but is one step behind the curve with dash media, writing DVD-R at 4X and DVD-RW at 2X. As indicated in the chart below, the I/OMagic drive lagged significantly in our movie write test, particularly with DVD+R. The story was the same in the data writing and reading tests: the IDVDRW8D came in either in the middle or at the back of the pack. Further, we've heard rumors from our readers of compatibility issues and system freezes while using the IDVDRW8D, though we have not encountered such problems firsthand. If speed and performance are your primary concerns, you're much better off with Plextor's dependable PX-708A or TDK's Indi DVD 840G.

Movie write test (megabytes per second)  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Write a movie to write-once media  
Note: Compression rates vary depending on the drives' bundled software.
* Plextor drive tested with 4X DVD+R media

Data write tests (megabytes per second)  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Write a 383MB file to rewritable media  
Write a 500MB directory to rewritable media  

Data read tests (megabytes per second)  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Copy a 383MB file from rewritable media to the hard drive  
Copy a 500MB directory from rewritable media to the hard drive  

Unless otherwise mentioned, all write tests are run with &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex_1&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Everbatim%2Ecom">Verbatim media, rated at the drive's maximum speed. Find out more about how we test optical drives.

I/OMagic backs the IDVDRW8D with an industry-standard one-year limited warranty. The company offers telephone support weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, but unless you live in the Irvine, California, area, long-distance tolls apply. I/OMagic's Web site offers a comprehensive FAQ, firmware updates, forums, and free online chat support during business hours.

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