So I had a gift certificate to burn at CompUSA and was deciding between a new desktop printer and a DVD burner (Harley, dinette set, Harley, dinette set...). The DVD burner won.
I ended up getting the Hi-Val dual-layer, external model. I won't bore you with a series of numbers, x's, and letters with plus and minus signs. I'll just say that it bills itself as fast as anything else that was on the shelf, and compatible with any media that you can find. The dual-layer format means that you can burn 8.5GB per side (if you have dual-layer media), just like commercial movie DVD's. Technically you could rip a commercial DVD to this format without recompressing the movie along the way, but who's gonna do that, right?
It's interesting to find that the product inside the box looked nothing like the picture on the outside. In fact, the drive itself is actually labeled "I/O Magic" and is apparently this device. I couldn't find a link anywhere to the Hi-Val product. After a little digging it seems that the product names are interchangeable.
Although the link shows the product selling for $129.99, I picked mine up for $119.99. Seemed like quite a deal to me, especially considering that there were name brand internal drives doing the same thing priced in the mid 100's to 200.
So here are a couple pics...
The side, revealing a dreamy, glowy, blue light that resembles the dashboard lighting in my GTI.
The front, with more glowy blue lighting. No, it doesn't come with that O'Reilly book.
At present all I have is DVD-R media rated at 2x, so I can't provide any test results. Besides, dual-layer media ranges anywhere between 5 and 7 bucks a piece depending on brand and quantity. 20 pieces of media or so and I've outspent the drive itself.
Installation was a snap - completely plug & play on my WinXP system. I didn't have to insert any CD with drivers or anything like that. It comes with Nero version 6. I have version 5 dot something installed on my machine, so I'll end up upgrading.
I can tell you that it rips audio CD's briskly and is fairly quiet. Assuming it handles it's DVD burning chores as advertised, I'd say it's a good use of $120.