Upgrade Your Burner Firmware
A FEW YEARS AGO, DVD BURNERS were considered luxury items too costly for growing businesses. Times sure have changed. Now, most midrange and high-end business desktops come with DVD BURNERS pre-installed. But for those of you with older systems, upgrading is an affordable option.
There's been some big news this year in the DVD industry. You may have heard about double-layer (DL) technology, a feature that increases the disc capacity substantially. The good news is that a special DL disc holds up to 8.5MB of data, up from the 4.7MB of a standard DVD. The less-than-stellar news is that special DL discs can cost upward of $10 apiece, and the burning speeds top out at about 2.4x (compared to up to 16x for other DVD formats). You can expect to wait awhile when while writing to one of these.
Another problem is one that has accompanied many successive advances in DVD technology: Older DVD drives may not recognize the new media. If that's a problem, check with the drive's manufacturer for firmware updates. Still, for data backup or large multimedia projects, the storage capacity is hard to beat. And these drives can always burn regular DVDs at faster speeds. They can also handle the full complement of CD-R, CD-RW and all the popular DVD formats. Check the specs for complete information on the souped-up burn speeds for different formats. All drives will be fairly quick about it, but there this will vary from model to model.
Now that you're set on buying a new DVD burner, you've got a big decision to make: internal or external? Internal drives are less expensive, but installation is more involved and they're tied to that particular machine once it's in. External drives can be moved around to different PCs or used with laptops if necessary. The internal BenQ DW1620 is a DL drive with an affordable $125 (all prices street) price tag. It's a cost-effective way to update your company's technology, provided you don't mind dealing with the installation or handing it off to your IT person.
For external drives, check out the $229 Sony DRX-710UL. Its sleek design, along with its USB 2.0 and FireWire interfaces adds up to a solid portable option. It also comes with the very popular Nero burning software. One of Iomega's offerings, the $299 Super DVD QuikTouch Video Burner, is an external DL drive that's particularly attractive for businesses that work work extensively with video. It has an integrated video capture card for collecting and burning directly from any digital device with an analog output, such as video camcorders or DVD players.
If you don't want to mess with a DL burner, the $259 Plextor PX-712UF is an external drive that supports the usual complement of DVD formats. At 12x speeds, it can burn a DVD+R disc in about six minutes. At 3.7 pounds, it may be too heavy to carry with your laptop, but it can certainly cover the bases around the office. TDK offers a $190 internal drive that also features 12x DVD+R recording and 8x speeds for DVD-R. An external version is available for about $100 more.
If you're on a tight budget and your business doesn't necessarily need the latest technology, older generation internal drives can be picked up for less than $100. Each of the manufacturers listed has a lineup of drives to fit a variety of price ranges and needs. So whether you need to back up important files, store data, create multimedia, or share documents, a DVD burner is an affordable and flexible investment.