SAN FRANCISCO (06/23/2000) - Until recently, burning CDs at rates faster than 8X meant dressing for a SCSI affair. Well, drives that write CD-Rs at 12X may still be a SCSI-only party; but now, thanks to Hewlett-Packard Co.'s 10X/4X/32X CD-Writer Plus 9310i, IDE users can enjoy high-speed times. The product costs US$299, about $50 less than a 12X drive.
A shipping unit performed exceptionally well in our tests, with surprisingly fast CD-R write speeds. The drive wrote a 430MB test image to disc in 5 minutes and 51 seconds. That's 57 seconds slower than the speediest 12X writer the PC World Test Center has looked at and 73 seconds quicker than the zippiest 8X burner we've tested.
The 9310i also wrote to CD-RW discs with aplomb, packet-writing 100MB to disc in only 3 minutes, 23 seconds--the fastest time in its class.
The 9310i also delivers a generous software bundle. Adaptec's Easy CD Creator 3.5 handles basic disc creation, and the same company's DirectCD 2.5 takes care of packet writing. Meanwhile, HP Simple Backup provides disaster recovery capabilities; the Neato CD labeling kit, with its handy applicator tool, lets you spruce up plain-faced CDs; and Sonic Foundry's Acid lets you create loop-based music. For HP's nearly identical $299 9300i model, Corel's Print Office replaces Acid in the software bundle.
The 9310i carries a one-year warranty, and includes 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (MST) telephone support. The only catch? The call is on your dime.
--Jon L. Jacobi
HP CD-Writer Plus 9310i
PRO: Fastest IDE CD-R burner.
CON: No toll-free support.
VALUE: Surprisingly fast write speeds save time on every CD-R.
Street price: $299