This was our first ever CD burner (CD writer). It was back in about 2000 or 2001 when not all of our computers came with built-in CD and DVD burning capabilities and this standalone USB CD burner was our only way of getting Lionel Richie tracks transferred from our computer to our HiFi.
As it was so new, this device was cutting edge and amongst the best on the market at the time. It offered, relative to other devices available at the time, lightening fast write times and very reliable writing processes. Writing an entire CD of around 700MB would take just a few minutes.
From what I remember (it was 12 years ago!), setup was pretty easy. It came with a CD (I wonder if they used the writer to burn it?) which contained the driver for the device as well as a basic setup wizard which could be used on all of the current Windows operating systems (95, 98, 98SE, ME) and from there all you then needed to do was connect it using the USB 1.1 port (This was before the USB 2.0 standard was common).
As I mentioned, it used USB 1.1 and therefore this was one of the reasons that the writing speed was considerably slower than that of modern disk writers. The transfer speeds of USB 1.1 are far slower than the 2.0 standard and far, far slower than the newer 3.0 standard. If the device can't get the data fast enough, it cannot write it any faster!
Other aspects of this device which make it far slower at writing than current writers are that it had a far slower disk write speed (by this I mean 2x, 4x, 6x etc...) at just 6x being the maximum speed this makes the burning process slow. Anybody who regularly writes discs will be able to tell you that the slower the burn speed selected fro the task, the more reliable the burn will be and the less chance of failure. In the days of this CD burner, it was generally considered that 2x was the best speed to have for reliability without too significant speed loss. Today, 8x is the equivalent. Therefore the lowest recommended speed of today is faster than the maximum speed of this CD burner.
You may have mentioned that I haven't mentioned DVDs in this review. Although you can usually just go into any shop today and buy a "burner" and this will be both a CD and DVD burner, back in 2001, this was not the case. DVD was not mainstream and therefore many burners lacked the DVD burning function. This means that if you hoped to burn a home movie for use in a DVD player with this device, you'd better keep looking.
Another difference between today and back then in terms of this device is in its structural design. Back then this device seemed pretty slim, sleek and stylish. However now it is quite bulky in comparison to other burners who have far better capabilities also and it also looks very dated (which it actually is!). The build quality however was excellent, it felt very solid on the desk - this may be due to the large weight of the device which you do not get with modern burners which means that you will be more likely to break the floor than the burner if it dropped off the table though.
So, you've had a 2-in-1 with this write-up. You've had a "Very Good" (Hint, hint!), review about a CD burner and you've also had a computing history lesson. I hope you enjoyed it!
I bought this as a gift for my girlfriend, she has an HP laptop. I am a techie and I have much experience with installing things like this. The initial install was problematic, after installing the drivers, the 8230 and the internal laptop cd stopped working. HP tech support tried to get it working but I ended up re-installing Win 2000. That really sucked. The HP "MyCD" software is not that great. I haven't tried Adaptec yet, but I'm planning on it. Tried to use the newer 80 min / 700MB CDR media, and all I got were coasters galore! oh well, back to 74 min, no big deal, but that sucks too. Next, we try to burn an audio CD using MP3's ripped using Real Jbox, and HP doesn't recognize them as being the right quality. So we convert the songs to different formats (WAV), build the track listing, and when we start recording, windows reports that we have unplugged the CD writer. We did no such thing! So then MyCD is crashed, we reboot and it doesn't remember the track listing! We must re-create the entire track list, and then it finally works. I have 4x Yamaha SCSI cd writers at home and at work, and this should have taken 1 hour. Instead it took 4-5 hours just to burn one CD! I wouldn't recommend this, If you want to seriously burn CDs get a regular burner using IDE or SCSI. If you need portability or laptop compatibility, then look into pc card burners, or firewire.. explore all of your options. Overall this hasn't been a pleasant product to work/play with.
I have had this drive since January, and it has been solid and reliable. I bought an external drive because I have a notebook PC, so it has no expansion slots. Before it I owned a SyQuest SparQ drive, which used 1Gb cardridges, but Syquest went bust and then the drive started becoming unreliable, so I thought i'd get a CD/Rw drive. This drive attracted me particularly because it was one of the few external CD/RWs that had a USB interface that you could actually buy in a computer store. I bought mine in Staples, giving me 14 days to try it, and they gave me a 150% price match, bringing the price down to mail order levels. First impressions of the drive were good, apart from the strange inculsion of an American style two pin power cord in the box; it is solidly built and installed easily. Unfortunately I initially had problems with my computer crashing every time it started, but I found out it was a drive letter conflict with my SparQ drive, and disconnecting that solved the problem. It burned cds with no problems, and reaches the claimed 4x speed as promised on the box. It does have a seperate power supply, which some people might find annoying, but it's quite small, and so can easily be hidden. The software bundle that comes with the writer is quite extensive, including Adaptec direct cd, which allows you to write to cds like a hard drive. It can format cd-rw discs in UDF format, meaning you can use them just like a (slow) hard drive, with a 528mb capacity. I don't know whether it's just my drive, but the computer is a bit slow to initailly read the filesystem on a UDF disc, and folders take a long time to appear when the disc is first inserted, but once it has read the disc access is fairly fast. It is a pity that HP didn't include Adaptec Easy CD creator as well, instead of the software they do provide, which appears to be in-house and wizard based. Some people like wizards, and for some things they are very good, but writing
cds is not one of them. As soon as you insert a blank disc, a window pops up asking you what you want to do with it. If you choose to write a new data or audio cd you are then taken into the new cd wizard where you must pick your files from a tiny window or drag and drop them onto the wizard. If you choose to write an audio cd you must also endure the wizard "helpfully" searching your hard drive for any audio files, which takes ages, and it doesn't save the results, so it has to redo the search each time you run it. The wizard doesn't give you any advanced options, like Nero's audio filters or Cd Text, but works well enough. If you choose to copy an audio CD the results aren't terribly good on the default settings since the copied cds suffer from audio "jitter" (spitting of the sound), so make sure you set the copy speed to below 4x. My advice is to bin HPs software and get a copy of something like Nero - it still has wizards if you want them, but also lots of more advanced features and jitter correction, so your copied audio cds will be perfect. This isn't the fastest drive in the world at 6x read and 4x write, but USB only allows up to 8x speed anyway, and without BURN-proofing (stops trashed CDs) you might end up with a lot of coasters, even at that speed. There are no noticeable delays in use though, but if you want to use the drive to play audio cds via CD Player you must connect it to your soundcard's line input connection (the lead is included). Another thing to remember is that the interface is USB only, so you can't use it on an older computer with only a parallel connection. There are other external USB CD writers available, but none that I know of at the moment with BURN proofing technology, and apart from the lack of decent cd burning software it makes a solid choice.