HP DVD-Writer DVD200i drive review:

HP DVD-Writer DVD200i drive

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Typical Price: £349.00
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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Fast DVD+RW rewritable and DVD+R recordable performance; also writes to CD-R and CD-RW; reads all current DVD media types.

The Bad Emergency-eject hole accepts only small-diameter paper clips.

The Bottom Line Though the compatibility of DVD+Rs with other hardware is still unproven, the DVD200i is a fast all-in-one optical drive and excellent for both backing up your system and for mastering DVDs.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.0 Overall

HP's DVD-Writer DVD200i could be the DVD-movie-burning solution of your dreams. A speedy, second-generation DVD+RW drive that can now write to DVD+R recordable discs as well as older DVD+RW, CD-R, and CD-RW media, the HP is an all-in-one optical wonder and a backup drive par excellence. The new DVD+R media's compatibility with DVD-ROM drives and movie players also looks promising, although we're still testing a variety of discs to make sure. HP's DVD-Writer DVD200i could be the DVD-movie-burning solution of your dreams. A speedy, second-generation DVD+RW drive that can now write to DVD+R recordable discs as well as older DVD+RW, CD-R, and CD-RW media, the HP is an all-in-one optical wonder and a backup drive par excellence. The new DVD+R media's compatibility with DVD-ROM drives and movie players also looks promising, although we're still testing a variety of discs to make sure.

Think inside the box
HP ships the $499 DVD200i, which is compatible with Windows 98 and later, with a healthy collection of documentation, software, and accessories. The paperwork includes a quick-start poster, a colorful software manual, and a troubleshooting guide. HP also packs an audio cable, an 80-pin IDE cable, and mounting screws, as well as one DVD+R and one DVD+RW disc in the box. The DVD200i is no more difficult to install than any internal drive; the process is daunting if you're afraid of opening your computer but otherwise straightforward. One minor gripe: the drive's emergency-eject hole can be accessed with only the smallest of paper clips--very frustrating if you don't have any handy.

The DVD200i's software bundle is necessarily copious to handle the myriad tasks the drive performs. The easy-to-use (but somewhat limited) RecordNow program lets you master data DVDs and CDs. DLA (Drive Letter Access) takes care of packet writing to both DVD+RW and CD-RW. For mastering movies, you can turn to Sonic Solutions MyDVD, while ArcSoft Showbiz takes care of advanced video editing. HP also includes Simple Backup to address your backup chores and CyberLink PowerDVD for DVD movie playback.

Greased lightning
In the majority of CNET Labs' performance tests, the DVD200i handily surpassed its rival, the Pioneer DVR-A04 DVD-RW drive, and its overall performance outpaced that of the Sony DRU120A DVD+RW drive. The 2.4X-rated DVD200i wrote a 383MB file to rewritable media more than twice as fast as the 1X-rated DVR-A04, and it tied with the Sony. However, the HP wrote a 500MB batch of small files only 45 seconds faster than the Pioneer and lagged behind the Sony by more than two minutes. The DVD200i picked up the pace when reading data, grabbing it off rewritable discs almost 4.5 times faster than the DVR-A04, though it was still a bit slower than the DRU120A. Where the DVD200i excelled was in movie mastering; it burned a movie file to DVD+R at nearly 3MB per second, 26 percent faster than the Sony and 36 percent faster than the Pioneer. Also, the DVD200i and the Sony can format DVD+RW media in the background without tapping system resources; in contrast, DVD-RW drives such as the Pioneer place that burden on the system CPU.

But performance is only one criterion for judging DVD recordable drives, especially if you plan to burn home-movie discs. A preburned DVD+R provided by HP worked in every player we tested it in, including some real antiques that wouldn't play DVD-Rs. This initial success is promising, but it's still early in the DVD+R game; we'll continue to test this disc and others we've burned ourselves in as many drives and players we can.

If you run into trouble with the DVD200i, toll-free technical support is available from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. MT on Saturdays. HP also provides a one-year warranty on the drive. The company's Web site includes a list of DVD+RW-compatible DVD-ROM drives and movie players but so far lacks a list for DVD+R. For those of you stuck with older DVD100i drives that can't use DVD+R media, HP offers an upgrade program: Send in your old drive plus $99 by June 30, 2002 (in the U.S.), and you'll get a new, DVD+R-compatible drive complete with software.

The most sensible choice
The DVD200i is an impressive performer and an excellent choice as a backup drive. Furthermore, DVD+R media may prove to be the most compatible DVD-recordable format. If you want or need a DVD burner today, a DVD+RW drive, such as the HP, is the sensible choice.

--by H.G. Bryant

Data-write tests
Time, in minutes, to perform tasks (shorter bars indicate better performance)
Write a 383MB file to rewritable media   
Write 500MB directory to rewritable media   
Sony DRU120A (DVD+RW/+R)
2.02 
3.28 
HP DVD-Writer DVD200i (DVD+RW)
2.00 
5.82 
Pioneer DVR-A04 (DVD-RW)
4.67 
6.58 
Cendyne DVR-104 (DVD-RW)
4.74 
11.04 
 
Movie-write tests
Movie files vary in size due to different compression rates, so write speed is measured in MB per second (longer bars indicate better performance)

HP DVD-Writer DVD200i (DVD+RW)
2.96 
Sony DRU120A (DVD+RW/+R)
2.34 
Pioneer DVR-A04 (DVD-RW)
2.17 
Cendyne DVR-104 (DVD-RW)
1.21 
 
Read tests
Time, in minutes, to perform tasks (shorter 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   
Sony DRU120A (DVD+RW/+R)
.77 
2.48 
HP DVD-Writer DVD200i (DVD+RW)
1.04 
2.21 
Cendyne DVR-104 (DVD-RW)
3.83 
5.86 
Pioneer DVR-A04 (DVD-RW)
4.70 
9.81 
 
While the DVD200i runs neck and neck or slightly behind the Sony DRU120A DVD+RW on many tests, it's a virtuoso at movie mastering, and it outperforms the Pioneer DVD-RW drive at every turn.

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