If you're experienced with installing an optical drive, you'll have no problem setting up the TDK Indi DVD 840G; just open the computer case, slide the drive into a free 5.25-inch bay, secure it with screws, and attach the cables. TDK's copious and exceptionally well-written documentation, including a great Shockwave animation on the Help Materials CD, should give even newbies enough confidence to tackle what otherwise can be an intimidating task.
TDK ships the drive with two blanks discs (one 4X DVD+R, one 4X DVD-R) as well as mounting screws and an IDE cable. There is, however, no drive-to-sound-card cable--the only omission in an otherwise complete package.
Setting up the Indi DVD 840G's software was fairly straightforward and uneventful in our tests. Still, we wish there was an option to install all of the included software in one fell swoop, instead of one app at a time.
The Indi DVD 840G's black front panel includes a headphone jack and volume control--features that some competing drives, such as Sony's DRU-530A, lack. The Indi DVD 840G's front panel also has the usual eject button, emergency-eject port, and power/busy light. On the back of the drive, you'll find the standard array of IDE and power connectors, digital and analog audio ports, and drive jumpers, whose functions are explained in a label on top of the drive. The Indi DVD 840G's black tray mechanism is one of the quietest we've tested.
TDK bundles Roxio's CD/DVD Creator Basic 188.8.131.52 with the Indi DVD 840G. The latest version of the venerable software suite is a great improvement over the slow and buggy 6.0 release and includes Roxio's Easy CD Creator Classic mastering application, Drag 'n' Drop packet-writing program, DVDMax DVD movie player, and Photosuite LE image-editing program. All in all, a solid suite of software.
The Indi DVD 840G turned in solid results in all our official and anecdotal tests. In addition to CNET Lab's test results, displayed in the charts below, we watched the drive write an entire DVD movie disc in just more than 8 minutes, faster than both Sony's DRU-530A and Plextor's PX-708A; it also ripped a full movie in less than 8 minutes. Best of all, like the Plextor, the Indi DVD 840G can write at 8X with 4X-rated media; there's no need to run out and get new, more expensive DVD discs.
A note to speed freaks: to rip at higher speeds, you must disable the Indi DVD 840G's SpeedRead function, which throttles down the drive to 2X when a movie disc is detected. To do this, "--="" rel="nofollow">&siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=ftp%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Etdk%2Ecom%2Fsoftware%2FDVDRW840G%5F104%2Eexe" target="_blank">upgrade to the latest firmware, and with the media tray empty, press and hold the eject button for approximately 3 seconds.
|Movie-write test (megabytes per second) (Longer bars indicate better performance)|
|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)|
|Data-read tests (megabytes per second) (Longer bars indicate better performance)|
TDK backs the Indi DVD 840G with a standard one-year warranty and toll-free phone support from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. PT, including weekends. Online help at the company's Web site is both comprehensive and easy to navigate and includes e-mail tech support, firmware and software updates, FAQs, manuals, and even the how-to videos that ship on the installation CD.