Test Drive: HP DVD-Writer dvd100i DVD burner

By SmallBusinessComputing Staff | Posted April 04, 2002
Wayne N. Kawamoto
Managing Editor, www.smallbusinesscomputing.com

For small business owners who want to back up data and record videos onto DVD, Hewlett Packard's DVD-Writer dvd100i offers a viable solution. Among the DVD burners we've seen, the dvd100i offers the most practical backup capabilities and the easiest installation. On the other hand, the DVD+RW technology itself has lots of room to mature-it's still not prime time to be making a purchase.

The competent dvd100i competently works as an 8X DVD-ROM and a 12X/10X/32X CD-R/RW drive, and the drive's ability to write to a disc at some 3.3MB per second make it far faster than many other DVD burners. Of course, this doesn't mean that you can burn an entire DVD in mere minutes-the process is still very time consuming.

For performing backups, the drive comes with HP's first rate Simple Backup software that lets you regularly burn up to 4.7GB of data onto DVD discs and later restore it. The drive comes with a DLA (Drive Letter Access) program that lets you use DVD+RW discs much as you would floppies to copy and move files. The drive works as a good DVD-ROM drive and adequately played our test movies through the included PowerDVD software. The drive also comes with RecordNow software to burn data and music files onto CDs.

For creating DVD movie discs, the drive comes with Sonic's solid MyDVD software that lets you import and organize video files and burn them onto DVD+RW discs. When burning movie DVDs, however, we found the software and drive to be rather touchy. We used our usual set of test videos that have been successfully burned onto DVD-R discs, and, at times, the software couldn't handle some of them.

Among the DVD burners we've tested, HP's dvd100i offered the most straight-forward installation. To start, there's a decent map that offers instructions on installing the drive, and software that analyzes a PC and makes the recommendations for settings and offers additional instructions. The drive's jumpers are clearly labeled. In place of cryptic numbers, the drive labels the jumper settings as "master" and "slave," which makes the installation process a lot easier for novices.

For now, the dvd100i has no DVD+R (write-once) capabilities. So you can only use the more expensive DVD+RW discs. While DVD+RW discs are well suited for backups, they're not as practical for burning videos onto DVD discs that you intend to keep. HP has announced new DVD burners that will support DVD+R, and it's unknown whether the necessary software upgrade will be made available to owners of older HP DVD+RW drives. Another consideration, the DVD+RW media is not as compatible with older settop DVD players, but the new DVD+R media is supposed to improve this situation.

In all, the HP DVD-Writer dvd100i is a competent DVD burner that is the best one we've seen for performing data backups. However, the DVD+R/RW technology is still maturing, particularly in the area of burning video onto DVDs. Our recommendation is to wait a while before purchasing such a drive. Early adopters beware.

Manufacturer: Hewlett-Packard, www.hp.com.

Price: $499

Pros: Good backup capabilities; easy installation; solid assortment of software.
Cons: DVD+R technology is still maturing.

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