The best thing you can say about a CD or DVD recorder at this stage of the game is that it performs as advertised. We're probably past the stage of being dazzled by this stuff—but maybe, again, that's the format war-follower perspective, and we ought to be dazzled by quad-speed DVD+/-R recording (which means a full disc in 15 minutes), quick erase of -RW and +RW media. In any event, it gets the job done with minimal hassle and excellent results. Installation is a breeze: just crack open your PC, set the drive to Slave, and slide it into an available drive slot, and if you're running Windows Me, 2000 Pro, or XP, you should be up and burning without having to muck around with device drivers and such.
The drive ships with Nero Express CD mastering software and Sonic's MyDVD entry-level DVD authoring software. I also used Pinnacle's Instant Copy to burn DVD-Video and Roxio's Easy CD Creator to create DVD-ROM discs. Over two weeks of testing on the testbed 2.66gHz Compaq with 512MB RAM and two 7200RPM hard drives (80GB internal and external TEAC 160GB, see the following), I burned roughly 15 DVD-Rs, a half-dozen DVD+Rs in both DVD-Video and DVD-ROM format, and wrote and rewrote a few rewritable discs—both flavors—at 2X with various types of filesets, including collections of Word documents and images, plus some DV-AVI video clips archived in DVD-ROM format. Most of the write-once recording happened at 2X (with BurnProof on), although it did manage to crank up to 4X on occasion. The DVD-Video discs recorded to -R and +R played back without fail on one Pioneer DVD-Video player, two DVD-ROM drives, and the Verbatim recorder. One DVD-RW disc recorded in DVD-Video format played back fine in the Pioneer player as well. All the rewritable and +R media used in testing was Verbatim brand; about two-thirds of the -R media used was of the mysterious unbranded variety.
The drive also performed flawlessly with CD-R, recording 15-20 Memorex and Verbatim CD-R audio discs at a full 16X over the testing period, and served effectively as a CD/DVD read drive and CD and DVD player as well.
Minimum system requirements: 800mHz Pentium 3 or equivalent running Windows Me/2000 Pro/XP (2000 Server not supported); DirectX 8.1+; 64MB RAM (128MB recommended); 50MB available HDD space for software installation; 16MB AGP Video card (32MB recommended)