Review of the HP DVD200i

 

  1. What's in the box ?
  2. Upgrade Program
  3. Installation
  4. Capabilities
  5. Software
  6. Conclusion

HP has released the brand new DVD200i , successor to the DVD100i. HP also announced the soon to be available DVD200e , that is the external ( Firewire ) version of the 200i.

  box  

 

Both these writers can handle the DVD+RW and DVD+R formats. Besides this the drive also functions as a standard CD recorder/rewriter and CD/DVD player. Note that the box now clearly has a label that says DVD+R. Reason for this is that the older DVD100i was initially sold with a kind of promise that the DVD+R capability would be made available via a firmware upgrade. Apparently this is not technically possible. This has lead to some people looking into filing a so called 'class-action; lawsuit against HP, to get compensation for not living up to this promise. HP has already taken action to correct this by offering this 99$ upgrade ( which is basically the cost of the new software ).

What's in the box ?

  inbox  

Beside the drive you are also shipped :

and last but not least :

The upgrade program only promised there to be the DVD+R disk. So I got a DVD+RW disk as well. Please not that these are what is in the box in the USA. If you are outside the USA the contents might differ.

Upgrade program


HP has currently a trade-in program for current owners of a DVD100i drive. For the price of 99 US$ you get the 200i drive and new software, provided you send your DVD100i back to HP. The drive comes shipped to you using Fedex ground ( in the USA , don't know how they will do it in Europe )

You have 3 days to swap the drive and check that it works. Simply put the old DVD100i back in the box together with the software disk of the DVD100i ,

Yes ! they want that disk back too ! so don't forget it, and besides , it's of no use to you since none of the programs on that disk can handle +R .

Close the box , slap on the return sticker , fill out your address on that sticker and retain the portion with the tracking number. And then simply drop off the box at your closest Fedex office. Here in the USA there is one almost on every corner of the street. Nothing to pay . All shipping is paid by HP. If you think about it the shipping from and to HP alone cost 100$. So this is really a very good deal and a nice gesture from HP's side.

Installation

 

  brothers  

The provided software will run under windows 98 or later , and installs flawlessly if you follow the instructions. For people doing the upgrade it is important that you first install the new software (using the old DVD100i ) and then replace the drive. Failing to do so can load the incorrect driver for the new drive and crash the system ( especially under win 2000 this results in a fatal blue screen during boot ). The picture above shows my old DVD100i brotherly hugging the new DVD200i.

If you fail to follow this procedure and end up with a crashing system here is a way to get out of the problem:

After reboot windows will load the correct driver . you now might need to re-install the software. ( I tried under win 2000 and it worked without reinstalling )

In any case you will be able to access the drive as a standard CD ROM drive. So there is no need to put the DVD100i back in.


This drive , just like the DVD100i will NOT work in an external firewire enclosure. It comes up and works fine as DVD player and CD recorder . But DVD writing operations fail. People wanting an external one will have to wait for the DVD200e. This one comes in a firewire box.

Capabilities


This drive can handle following media CD, CDR., CDR., DVD, DVD+R, DVD+RW. It will not handle DVDram or DVD-R or DVD-RW. DVD+R offers better backward compatibility so more home theatre systems can play the disks.

  DVD CD
Interface E-IDE/ATAPI (Ultra DMA Mode 2)
Speeds 2.4 x rewrite, 8 x read 12 x write, 10 x rewrite, 32 x read
Data buffer capacity 2MB
Random access time 140 ms 120 ms
Read compatibility DVD-ROM, DVD+RW, DVD+R CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW
Write compatibility DVD+RW, DVD+R CD-R, CD-RW
Supported formats DVD, DVD+RW, DVD+R CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-Extra, Photo-CD, Video-CD, CD-I, CD-text
Write methods Random Write TAO, DAO, MS, SAO, IPW
Operating system Windows 9x, ME, NT4.0, 2000, XP

I played around in a local Circuit City with the DVD players they have and haven't found one that couldn't play my DVD+R disk. The DVD+RW could only be played in about half of the drives.

For DVD write operations the drive offers a whopping 2.4x speed. Like its predecessor the DVD100i , this drive is basically the Ricoh DVD recorder Drive. But then again , all the +RW and +R drives are.

As a CDrecorder it can write at 12 speed and rewrite at 10 speed , while reading at 32 speed. Not nearly a speed demon like some of the CD recorders out on the market today , but still more then fast enough.

Software

The new software offers a whole range of features.

Tools supplied :

The HP recorder software is basically a customized version of RecordNow MAX from Veritas and Sonic MyDVD. The Recordnow portion handles the creation of standard CD formats and data DVD formats.


Sonic My DVD 3.0 handles the creation of the DVD's and can capture directly from a firewire device and burn to disc. The program will create chapter points itself and create a menu for you automatically. However here there is few or no control of the end result. You are better of capturing to disc and then creating your own menu. The program allows you to customize fonts and backgrounds for the menu but that's it. You have no control over button placement , number of items per page etc. In other words a typical Sonic 'teaser' product designed so you will quickly shell out more money for a more advanced product. In that case dare say : forget about Sonic and look toward Uleads DVD workshop.

Besides these programs a DVD player program (PowerDVD V3.0) and a video editing program (ArcSoft ShowBiz) is also installed. Also included is HP Simple Backup , that allows you to backup your harddisk, and DLA , that creates a drive letter so you can access the drive as a harddisk and use drag and drop to store files.

The second CD-ROM holds HP memories disc Creator , Musicmatch Jukebox and Arcsoft MultiMedia Email. HP memories Disc creator allows you to make VCD slideshows but offers little or no control over the process. You are better off with a tool like Uleads Photo Slideshow.

Conclusion.


All in all a complete package for making your own DVD's at a fair price. We haven't tested the compatibility yet using other software such as Ahead's Nero or Ulead DVD Movie Factory or Ulead DVD Workshop.


While supplied software is good to begin with, most users will quickly look for other tools to use with this drive. Especially the menu creation and flexibility of the supplied DVD creation programs are very basic. Most users will want to upgrade and then Uleads PhotoShow and DVD Movie Factory or DVD Workshop are excellent tools.



Credits

Author: Vincent Himpe (June 1, 2002 - Version 1)