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Verbatim Producer 4X DVD+RW review: Verbatim Producer 4X DVD+RW

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The Good Writes DVD+R media at 4X; excellent software package.

The Bad Poor setup documentation; disastrous support Web site; no Mac support.

The Bottom Line If you can overlook the poor setup and support options, the Producer 4X DVD+RW is a good choice for your family's backup, movie, and CD-burning needs.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.0 Overall
  • Setup 6
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7
  • Support 6

Review Sections

The Verbatim Producer 4X DVD+RW is a solid burner for families looking to convert and preserve old VHS tapes or home movies to DVD. It delivers solid performance and comes with a laundry list of software titles--including Ahead Nero Express, Sonic MyDVD, and InterVideo WinDVD--for all of your burning and backup needs. For anyone unfamiliar with burning (DVD or otherwise), Verbatim also includes a loose collection of rudimentary how-to videos to help you get started. However, when it comes to installation, the company offers little assistance beyond the bare-bones printed manual. The Verbatim Web site is even worse; it's devoid of any useful or relevant information. Still, if you feel confident burning with very little technical assistance, the Producer does the trick without costing you an arm and a leg. Unlike HP and TDK, Verbatim pays scant attention to the out-of-box experience. Although the Verbatim Producer 4X DVD+RW's straightforward Easy-Step installation manual does an adequate job of explaining how to set up the drive, it lacks more in-depth instructions for newbies. For example, Verbatim recommends that you set the drive as a secondary master but fails to explain the difference between master and slave.



This sample video shows you how to use Nero Express.


In addition to the manual and the software CDs, the box contains an IDE cable, an audio cable, some mounting screws, and one blank DVD+RW disc. The Producer is compatible with Windows 98 SE, Me, NT 4.0, 2000, and XP but not Macs.

After you connect the hardware, you'll need to install the included software, which is spread out over three separate CDs. Instead of the usual PDF software manuals, Verbatim uses a series of rudimentary video tutorials to cover everything from finding the serial number for Nero Express to burning your first DVD. While these instructions are useful for beginners, experienced users will need to rely on the individual programs' help files or search the Internet for the user guides.

The Producer 4X DVD+RW is a fairly versatile drive. It writes DVD+R media at 4X, DVD+RW media at 2.4X, CD-Rs at 16X, and CD-RWs at 10X. To prevent buffer underrun errors, the Verbatim uses JustLink technology, which suspends writing if the amount of data in the buffer memory falls below a certain level. Unfortunately, the Producer features a meager 2MB buffer memory, which can empty fast if you have a number of open programs competing for your processor's attention.

Verbatim ships a comprehensive software bundle with the Producer. It begins with a slew of applications from Ahead Software, including Nero Express for burning all manner of DVDs and CDs, Nero Vision Express for video capture and VideoCD authoring, and InCD for packet-writing chores. Nero Express, specifically, features a very straightforward interface and makes it easy to burn discs with just a few clicks of the mouse. (The program produces MPEG-1 VideoCDs, but if you want to create higher-quality Super VideoCDs or DVDs, you'll need to purchase Nero's $24 MPEG-2-encoder plug-in.) Advanced users may want to upgrade to Nero Burning ROM 5.5.9, a more sophisticated application.



MyDVD lets you record video straight to disc.


In addition to the mastering software from Ahead, Verbatim tosses in a bevy of other creative apps. You get MusicMatch 7.2, a slightly old version of the popular digital-audio manager, and WinDVD 4.0, which offers excellent playback controls for watching DVDs on your computer. One of the coolest features in WinDVD lets you accelerate playback by up to 200 percent or slow it down by 50 percent without serious audio distortion. The bundle also includes Sonic's MyDVD 4.0 for creating custom DVDs from home movies and video clips. Plus, the program includes a direct-to-DVD feature that lets you record video programming straight to DVD from your camcorder without storing the video or audio data on your hard disk.

As a bonus, you get trial versions of Backup Now and Image Backup, two powerful backup programs from NTI. If you decide to buy the full versions of both programs, Verbatim will give you $20 off.

The Producer 4X DVD+RW posted respectable scores in CNET Labs' tests. It burned video at the rate of 4.44MB per second, more than half a megabyte slower than the top-rated TDK Indi DVD but still plenty fast. In packet-writing tests, the Producer lagged behind both the Indi DVD and the Sony DRU-500AX but by only a few seconds. The drive also proved a fairly facile reader, although it stumbled a bit when copying our 500MB file directory to the hard drive.

Movie write  (Compression rates may vary, so write speed is measured in megabytes per second)
Write a movie to write-once media  
TDK 420N Indi DVD (DVD+RW)
4.95 
Pioneer DVR-A05 DVD-RW
4.63 
Verbatim Producer DVD+RW
4.44 
Sony DRU-500AX (DVD+RW)
4.09 
CenDyne DVR-105 4X DVD recordable (DVD-RW)
3.96 
Sony DRU-500AX (DVD-RW)
3.32 
 
Write tests  (Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Write a 500MB directory to rewritable media  
Write a 383MB file to rewritable media  
Sony DRU-500AX (DVD+RW)
2.57 
1.91 
TDK 420N Indi DVD (DVD+RW)
2.76 
1.98 
Verbatim Producer DVD+RW
2.77 
1.99 
Sony DRU-500A (DVD-RW)
3.26 
2.41 
Pioneer DVR-A05 DVD-RW
3.67 
2.36 
CenDyne DVR-105 4X DVD recordable
4.27 
3.23 
 
Read tests  (Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Copy a 500MB directory from rewritable media to the hard drive  
Copy a 383MB file from rewritable media to the hard drive  
CenDyne DVR-105 4X DVD recordable
2.8 
0.90 
Sony DRU-500AX (DVD+RW/-RW)
3.13 
1.89 
Pioneer DVR-A05 DVD-RW
3.20 
2.42 
Verbatim Producer DVD+RW
3.39 
1.19 
TDK 420N Indi DVD (DVD+RW)
3.56 
1.23 
 
Write tests  (Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Packet writing from hard drive to CD-RW (400MB directory)  
Audio burn to CD-R from image on hard drive (from 43 min., 11 sec. audio CD)  
Sony DRU-500AX (DVD+RW/-RW)
5.49 
3.03 
TDK 420N Indi DVD (DVD+RW)
5.87 
3.26 
Verbatim Producer DVD+RW
5.87 
3.36 
Pioneer DVR-A05 DVD-RW
7.25 
3.29 
CenDyne DVR-105 4X DVD recordable
13.31 
3.24 
 
All write tests are run with both the drive's recommended media (submitted by the manufacturer) and with Verbatim media, rated at the drive's maximum speed. For more details on how we test optical drives, see the CNET Labs site.

Verbatim backs the Producer 4X DVD+RW with a standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty. Toll-free phone support is available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m PT.



You won't find much help on the Verbatim Web site.


We found the Verbatim support Web site to be completely inadequate and totally useless. The DVD section consists of only two FAQs: the first addresses labeling DVD media, while the other tells you where to return defective products. We could not find a single mention of manuals, software updates, or a searchable knowledge base. In fact, as of post time, the Producer 4X DVD+RW drive wasn't even listed on the Verbatim site.

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