Product Type: Hewlett-Packard CD writers
Newest Review: ... 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 n... more
Solid CD/RW, but ditch the supplied cd burning software
HP CD-Writer 8230e
Member Name: Borat
HP CD-Writer 8230e
Date: 07/04/01, updated on 07/04/01 (2909 review reads)
Advantages: Well built, reliable, external, USB, good software bundle apart from the burning software
Disadvantages: No BURN Proofing, could be faster, no decent cd burning software included
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.