At $599 retail, the DVD100i debuts at a far lower price point than the $999 Pioneer DVR-A03 did last spring. However, thanks to a series of price drops, the DVR-A03 is now available for about $450 on the street, compared to $525 for the DVD100i. Thus, the DVD100i is both costlier and less compatible than its DVD-R competition. However, as we already mentioned, its performance trounces that of its rivals. Based on specs, the HP DVD100i writes to its native DVD+RW discs at a whopping 3.32MB per second (2.4X) compared to the QPS 's 1.38MB per second. CNET Labs' tests showed that for backing up data or writing movie files, the DVD100i was nearly twice as fast as the Que DVD burner; HP's product was also slightly faster when reading data from DVD. And it should easily outpace the slower DVR-A03 (a mere 8X/4X/32X drive) at CD-related tasks.
The DVD100i's out-of-box experience seems better suited to savvier users than novices. The multilingual installation guide is barely enough to get you started, but there's a setup video on the software CD, and the software installation itself is painless. An IDE cord, a drive-to-sound-card cable, and a single DVD+RW disc also come with the drive. Additional DVD+RW media is available for a reasonable $10 to $16 a pop.
Through a mirror darkly
The trouble with DVD+RW is compatibility. The media has low reflectivity; thus, it's not nearly as compatible with legacy DVD-ROM drives and DVD movie players as the high-reflectivity DVD-R media supported by the SuperDrive and DVD-RAM/R drives. This makes sharing data or movies with friends via DVD+RW potentially problematic. The DVD+RW developers group will be introducing a high-reflectivity DVD+R media that should be readable by more drives and players. However, the DVD100i won't be able to write to DVD+R without a firmware upgrade, which HP doesn't plan on providing. At least the company doesn't try to whitewash the compatibility issue--it lists all the current drives and players that can read DVD+RW media on its Web site.
A well-rounded bundle
Unless you're planning on producing professional videos, the DVD100i's software bundle should take care of all of your video-capture and disc-creation needs. Sonic's MyDVD is provided for easy creation of DVD-movie discs. The program lets you storyboard your masterpiece by importing and converting files, capturing video, and the like. It even lets you record directly to a DVD+RW disc from a DV source such as a camera. One caveat: MyDVD requires an 800MHz or better CPU.