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HP dvd400i Review

Highs

  • Reliable
  • robust software package
  • looks good

Rating

Our Score 6
User Score 2.3

Lows

  • Slow DVD and CD write times
  • clunky software feel
Overall HP offers a software package above and beyond what most other manufacturers are offering with their DVD writers.

Summary

The HP dvd400i has a lot going for it in the way of reliability and software features but fails in the performance category. DVD and CD write times are sub par and while the drive can read DVD+R/RW media, it cannot write to this type of media. HP includes all of the necessary software for you to get going, but the some of the software runs in the background slowing down your system. Computer novices should be happy with the overall package, but hardcore computer users should look elsewhere. For $199 you should be able to purchase a drive that writes both DVD media formats.

Introduction

 

HP’s dvd400i DVD+R/RW writer is currently the company’s fastest home DVD writer, and while it may not support both +/- formats, a lot of emphasis is put into the dvd400i’s software package and the drives ease of use. Those looking for cutting edge performance will be disappointed by the dvd400i’s slow CD-R/RW writing speeds, but the drives reliability should more than make up for this shortcoming. The HP dvd400i can be found for around $199 at your local retailer.

Features and Design

 

HP is currently offering 4 IDE DVD writers which share similar features and software. They are the 100i, 200i, 300i, and 400i. They each come with a 2MB buffer to prevent buffer under-run errors, and all the necessary cables and software to get you up and running. The main difference between these writers are the speeds at which you can write CD and DVD media. The 400i is the fastest writer in the group and is capable of writing at 8X DVD+R and 4X DVD+RW speeds. Unfortunately the dvd400i cannot write to DVD-R/RW media so if you have a home DVD player that supports this format, you will probably want to purchase a different DVD writer. The upside is that most home DVD players support the DVD+R/RW format which is what HP is aiming for.

HP includes a rather robust software package as well as a thorough instruction guide. If you cannot tell by now, HP is targeting the basic computer user with this drive. This means that the included software should cover just about anything you might want to do.  The software included: ArcSoft ShowBiz (for video capture and editing, as well as DVD creation), Sonic RecordNow (for creating music and data discs), Simple Backup, Cyberlink’s PowerDVD (for playing back movies) and Muvee AutoProducer DVD Edition (for automated video editing). HP was also kind enough to include both DVD+R and DVD+/RW media. If you plan on making this your system’s primary drive, then you will need to purchase an audio cable from the store since HP has failed to include one with the dvd400.

According to HP’s website and packaging, the dvd400i appears to only be compatible with Windows based systems; there is no mention of compatibility with Linux or Macintosh based operating systems. If you have experience using this drive on either a Mac or Linux operating system, please make sure to mention this under the user review section of this review.

Our particular test drive came in a dull black color as opposed to the traditional beige or HP’s own off white. Located on the front of the drive is the eject button and nothing more. If you are one of the 1% of users that actually uses the volume controls and audio inputs found on other drives, you are out of luck with the dvd400i. Overall the drive is as handsome looking as a DVD writer can get and its black color matched our black Cheiftec computer case perfectly.

Performance

In our DVD writing tests, the dvd400i placed right in between the TDK 440N (4X DVD writer) and Plextor’s PX-708A (8X DVD writer). As far as writing speeds, the dvd400i could certainly be faster but we did not experience any bad burns proving the drive is reliable.

In our CD writing tests, the dvd400i experienced the same problems the Pioneer’s S606 had. Writing to CD media proved to be very time consuming taking more than 3 minutes to write a 525MB directory.

System Configurations:

Windows XP Pro SP1; AMD Athlon 1700+; Abit AT7 Max 2 motherboard; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; PNY GeforceFX 500 video adapter.

Use and Testing

 

Hardware and spec wise, the dvd400i really has nothing to gloat about. It only has a 2MB buffer, and there is no mention of any sort of Burn Proof or buffer under-run technology. The dvd400i can also only write to DVD+R/RW media types; although it can also read –R/RW media. The real treat is the amount of software HP gives you with this drive. Oddly enough it is this very same software that caused some issues with our test system. Ever have that relative that is constantly calling you with computer problems? And when you finally went to check out their system, you found an extra-ordinary amount of programs running in the background and taskbar. This is exactly what the HP software did to us.

During the installing the software our system immediately locked up. For the impatient, you will probably be inclined to restart your system; but don’t as it will eventually recover. Once the software was installed, it had us restart the computer and then immediately updated our drives firmware. It is great that HP is offering firmware and software updates, but we do not like software running in the background constantly checking for them. This sort of action will not only slow down your system itself, but your internet connection speed as well even although not significantly.

Most of the software that comes with the HP dvd400i are limited versions, but they serve their purpose on a basic level. Sonics RecordNow does not feel nearly as nice as Roxio’s Easy CD and DVD creator, but it works and that has got to count for something. Speaking of Roxio software, our Roxio Easy CD and DVD Creator and Ahead’s Nero 6 software were both compatible with this drive and did not require any sort of software updates.

HP includes a very detailed GUI (Graphical User Interface) which allows you to pick the software you want depending on your purpose. This eliminated the need to create 5 different software shortcuts for the program you want to use. CyberLinks PowerDVD program is excellent for viewing DVD movies and we were pleased to see this included with the drive. Both of the DVD editing/creation software included with this package work as advertised, but lack any sort of advanced features that true multimedia experts will want. Overall HP offers a software package above and beyond what most other manufacturers are offering with their DVD writers.

In our DVD writing tests, the dvd400i placed right in between the TDK 440N (4X DVD writer) and Plextor’s PX-708A (8X DVD writer). As far as writing speeds the dvd400i could certainly be faster but we did not experience any bad burns, proving that the drive is reliable.

In our CD writing tests, the dvd400i experienced the same problems the Pioneer’s S606 had. Writing to CD media proved to be very time consuming taking more than 3 minutes to write a 525MB directory.

For complete test results, please click on the performance link and tab located above and below this review.

Conclusion

 

The HP dvd400i has a lot going for it in the way of reliability and software features but fails in the performance category. DVD and CD write times are sub par and while the drive can read DVD+R/RW media, it cannot write to this type of media. HP includes all of the necessary software for you to get going, but the some of the software runs in the background slowing down your system. Computer novices should be happy with the overall package, but hardcore computer users should look elsewhere. For $199 you should be able to purchase a drive that writes both DVD media formats.