The LaCie d2 LightScribe DVD+/-RW external drive (16X/8X/4X/2.4X) gives PC users an easy way to store their multimedia files but few compelling reasons to buy it. Its pricing is average and its performance is adequate, though the Iomega Super DVD 16X16 drive outperforms the d2 in most areas. Businesses will like the LightScribe feature, which allows the drive to burn permanent text and graphics on discs that have a compatible LightScribe coating, but many casual users may opt to stick with more cost-effective stick-on labels. The software bundle is also adequate, but video-editing enthusiasts will need more than the Roxio software included in the box. In short, LaCie's d2 LightScribe DVD+/-RW external drive is awash in a sea of similar offerings and has no particular hook to draw your attention.
The external (FireWire/USB 2.0) LaCie d2 DVD+/-RW with LightScribe is attractive overall, with a black face in a cool silver enclosure. The unit sits evenly on your PC or nearby shelf, and since it doesn't have ventilation holes, you can conveniently stack it with other drives or devices. A basic drive tray, activity LED, and eject button adorn the face. Continuing the trend found in many other drives, the LaCie d2 doesn't provide a headphone jack or a volume control (though audiophiles can still play back music CDs through their PC). The rear panel offers two FireWire ports, a high-speed USB (2.0) port, and an external power connection.
Everything you need to install the LaCie d2 DVD+/-RW with LightScribe comes in the box, including the AC adapter, a FireWire cable, a USB 2.0 cable, a LaCie Utilities disc, and a quick-install guide. The guide offers little practical help; fortunately, installation is as simple as powering up the drive and attaching the FireWire or USB cable to the host PC. Once connected, Windows XP sees the drive and installs the proper drivers (Windows 98 SE and Me users will need to preinstall the d2 drivers from the utilities disc). If you're looking for more details on the drive and how to use it, refer to the electronic user manual included on the utilities disc.
The LaCie d2 DVD+/-RW with LightScribe offers complete support for all popular disc formats except for double-layer DVD-R. This makes it extremely handy for video recording, photo scrapbooking, music projects, or other multimedia projects. You can also move the LaCie d2 between PCs. One uniquely interesting feature of the d2 is its LightScribe capability, which allows the drive to burn the "label side" of the disc. Of course, you'll need LightScribe-compatible discs, and you'll need to burn the label side as a separate step (you must flip the disc over after the data has been written), but a well-designed label burned to the disc can give the completed media a very professional look--a real plus for business users.
The LaCie d2 DVD+/-RW with LightScribe also provides a suite of software. PC users receive Roxio's Easy Media Creator 7.0 Suite (Windows 2000/XP), Label Creator, and Easy CD & DVD Creator 6.2 (Windows 98 SE/Me). Mac users receive Toast 6.0 Lite (Mac OS 10.2.3 and higher), LaCie LightScribe Labeler (Mac OS 10.3.2 or higher), and Toast 5.2.2 Lite (Mac OS 9.2). Video-editing support is weak in this bundle (for example, the Asus DRW-1608P includes Ulead DVD MovieFactory 3.0 Suite SE), so aspiring Hollywood types might opt for a separate editing package. Otherwise, this assortment of tools should cover most general-purpose CD and DVD multimedia projects.
While the LaCie d2 DVD+/-RW with LightScribe did not excel in any particular area, it generally performed on a par with other drives in its class. The d2 ripped a 4.4GB video in 9 minutes, 7 seconds. That's a little slower than the Iomega Super DVD's time but identical to that of the HP dvd630e. The d2 burned that same 4.4GB file in just 6 minutes, 8 seconds--identical to the performance of the Iomega Super DVD. In 8X DVD-R mode, the same burn took 8 minutes, 34 seconds--faster then the HP dvd630e's time. In double-layer DVD tests, the d2 ripped a 7.9GB video file in 17 minutes, 33 seconds and burned the same file in 45 minutes, 15 seconds--very similar to the HP dvd630e's score (Iomega's Super DVD proved much faster in DL performance). The d2 also scored comparably to the HP dvd630e in CD Audio tests, ripping 74 minutes, 35 seconds of music in 3 minutes, 47 seconds and burning the same music in 3 minutes, 17 seconds. Finally, the d2 managed to read 4.22GB of data (in 4X DVD+RW mode) in 9 minutes, 30 seconds, burning the same data in 13 minutes, 57 seconds. In 4X DVD-RW mode, the same read took 9 minutes, 22 seconds, and the same write took 14 minutes, 44 seconds. The Iomega Super DVD again proved significantly faster than either the LaCie and the HP dvd630e.
LaCie covers the d2 LightScribe with a standard one-year warranty (though you may be able to purchase extended-protection plans through your retailer). Calls to technical support will carry a toll charge, but you can reach support by phone or fax Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT. The LaCie Web site offers additional support with a searchable FAQ, driver downloads, tutorials, and e-mail support.
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