Hewlett-Packard DVD200e test

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Hewlett-Packard DVD200e

Hewlett-Packard's external DVD burner connects via FireWire and USB, and can only help push the DVD+R and DVD+RW media formats further into the mainstream - even despite its £400 price-tag.

Pioneer's DVD-R format may be the DVD Forum's recognised recordable DVD standard, but that isn't stopping the DVD+R camp from beginning to dominate the market. DVD+R/DVD+RW discs and burners for computers are now abundant and affordable, while the available range of DVD-R hardware remains limited.

Add to this Philips' highly desirable DVDR890 set-top DVD+R/+RW recorder, which makes its DVD-R-based competitors look rather limp. We're in no doubt that the public will make their choices based on price and performance - rather than what standard is decreed by the DVD Forum.

HP's DVD200e is an external DVD+R/+RW writer for desktop and laptop systems, with connections for FireWire and for USB 2.0/1.1. It takes power externally from the mains, and has the same headphone socket and volume control as internal CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drives. The unit is small compared to FireWire housings we've seen from companies such as LaCie, and looks stylish with its two-tone navy and silver finish. Recording speeds are good for DVD (2.4x for both DVD+R and DVD+RW) but average for CD (12x for CD-R and 10x for CD-RW). In this respect, the only significant difference between this drive and HP's first-generation model, the DVD100i, is support for write-once DVD+R media.

The supplied software bundle is reasonable, but not spectacular. As with almost every other DVD burner, the HP comes with Sonic Solutions' MyDVD for DVD authoring, and CyberLink's PowerDVD for DVD viewing. ArcSoft's limited video editing program, ShowBiz, is also included, along with HP's Memories Disc Creator, allowing users to create simple slideshows that play in set-top DVD players. Data management tools include a trio of Veritas programs - RecordNow, DLA (Drive Letter Access - a packet writing application), and Simple Backup.

A little under a year ago, £400 for a FireWire DVD burner would have been ludicrously cheap. Today, if anything, it's bit dear - given that Ricoh's EIDE internal DVD+R/DVD+RW burner is available in Dixons for £199 and FireWire enclosures can be had for under £100. Some good thought has gone into the HP 200e's software bundle, but even this doesn't justify a £100 premium - especially as any keen video makers will need something better than the supplied authoring software in the long term. And, of course, a four-way EIDE burner from Sony, the DRU-500A, is due soon at a likely price of £249, and able to burn DVD-R and DVD-RW discs, as well as DVD+R and DVD+RW.

Ignoring the price, though, the DVD200e worked well and delivered good write-once discs that played on every player we had available. More extensive tests are underway to determine the playability of DVD+R projects, so watch this space!

Peter Wells

Read the full review in February 2003's Computer Video magazine.



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Hewlett-Packard DVD200e

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