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TDK IndiDVD 1280B review: TDK IndiDVD 1280B

You can get better performance from less expensive DVD drives than you'll get with the TDK IndiDVD drive.

Stephen Bigelow
4 min read
TDK IndiDVD 1280B external drive
With so many DVD drives available, you'd expect new products to offer better speed, performance, and features than the competition. Unfortunately, this isn't the case with TDK's IndiDVD 1280B external drive. The 12X drive isn't as fast as other 16X drives that are now available, and the 1280BÂ’s excellent Roxio software bundle cannot overcome the driveÂ’s lackluster performance. Given the price tag, other drives, such as the HP dvd630e just make more sense.

TDKÂ’s external 1280B uses a dark charcoal-color case that curves just slightly, giving the drive a sleek, attractive appearance and softening the harsh angles that plague most external drives. Otherwise, there are no surprises with the 1280B. The drive's front panel sports a drive tray, a headphone jack, a volume control, and an eject button.


TDK IndiDVD 1280B

The Good

Simple installation; fast rip times; excellent Roxio software bundle covering photos, audio, data, and video recording/playback.

The Bad

Performance is middling; slow write times; does not work with double-layer media.

The Bottom Line

For the price, this drive isn't worth it. You can find faster double-layer drives for less money.

Once the drive has a home on your desk or shelf, installation is just a matter of connecting an external power adapter and a USB cable (both included). The drive also supports a FireWire (IEEE 1394) connection, if you prefer. One warning, which is clearly marked on the box: the 1280B requires a USB 2.0 port for normal operation and is not compatible with older USB 1.1 ports. Older PCs may require you to upgrade the USB hub and/or Windows (older versions don't fully support USB 2.0). Once it's connected, Windows XP recognizes and installs the drive in just a few seconds. Novice PC users will appreciate the printed documentation to help with the hardware installation.

Like many of todayÂ’s DVD drives, the 1280B is extremely versatile, handling a wide range of recordable and rewritable CD or DVD media at speeds on a par with those of other drives. This makes the 1280B well suited for multimedia work, such as video recording, making backups, archiving photos, music mastering, and many other projects. However, the 1280B does not handle double-layer (DL) burning, so users needing more than 4.7GB of storage should consider DL-capable drives such as the LaCie d2 16X drive.

The 1280B includes a welcome suite of Roxio software, such as DVD Builder for digital video authoring/recording; Creator Classic for data recording to CD/DVD; and AudioCentral for music ripping, playback, and copying. PhotoSuite Lite lets you capture, edit, and manage digital photos; Disc Copier creates backup copies of CDs and DVDs; and Drag-to-Disc provides packet-writing capability for CD-RW media. Additional applications include media players such as Player and DVDMax. Budding artists will also like Label Creator for custom disc labels and case art. Printed documentation covers the basics of each bundled application.

The 1280B returned some of the best--and worst--performances in this roundup. While the 1280B (in 12X DVD+R mode) managed to rip an entire DVD video in 8 minutes, 54 seconds (the fastest DVD video rip speed of the recently tested external drives), it lagged well behind other drives, such as the LaCie d2 16X, when it came to burning DVD video. In 8X DVD-R mode, the 1280B scored dead last in DVD video burning. Results were also mixed when it came to CD audio. The 1280B scored last in CD audio ripping but led the pack when it came time to burn the CD audio. If you use rewritable DVD media for data such as documents, photos, and spreadsheets, the 1280B runs last in RW reading (regardless of your +RW or -RW media choice), lagging behind other drives such as the Memorex True 8X and the LaCie d2 16X, though it holds its own in terms of RW writing.

TDK backs the 1280B with a standard one-year warranty. Users can get free, toll-free phone support for the life of the drive, Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PT. If youÂ’d rather not hold, live chat is available through the TDK support site Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT, and you can also submit queries via e-mail. The TDK Web site provides a FAQ, a searchable knowledge base, electronic manuals, instructive videos, and access to firmware upgrades.

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

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 d2 16X (32X CD-R)
HP dvd630e (40X CD-R)
Memorex True 8X (32X CD-R)

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


TDK IndiDVD 1280B

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 6Performance 6Support 7