Driving range

Two of the leaders in the field are going after late adopters with DVD-R drives priced to be irresistible.

It wasn’t that long ago that CD-R drives were a novelty; now, suddenly, DVD-R drives are approaching old hatness. Two of the leaders in the field are going after late adopters with DVD-R drives priced to be irresistible.

Toshiba’s SD-R5272 DVD Writeable Drive Kit (MSRP: $149) amounts to a home movie-maker’s starter kit. It comes complete with everything needed to create a home movie-making suite, including all necessary software, including Ahead Software’s Nero 6 digital-media suite. With its half-height form factor, it’ll be right at home in any available desktop bay, and an MP3 encoder and DivX support only make the pot sweeter.

The Toshiba drive’s primary appeal is the speed it provides for the price. It won’t finish a disc much faster than more expensive drives, but the difference is negligible. If you don’t have anything against internal drives, the Toshiba’s a good choice.

Sony’s DRX-530UL external drive (recently reduced to $260 retail) is the electronics giant’s fourth-generation DVD-RW drive. I wish I could tell you that it’s a great product, but I had so much difficulty getting it to work at all that any recommendation must come with a caveat.

To quickly recap: Once I had the drive hooked to my laptop, Burning Software Application A insisted that there was no blank media in the drive, even though I tried several different brands of blanks; Application B wouldn’t let me choose the Sony as my default burning drive; and Application C–which came bundled with the drive, no less–wouldn’t even open.

After some research, I found out C was incompatible with A, but C still wouldn’t respond even after I uninstalled A. Bottom line, I spent an afternoon fooling around with what should have been a five-minute plug-and-play installation.

This is less a condemnation of the Sony DVD-RW drive than it is of the lack of software standardization in the world. But that doesn’t make all the obstacles any less frustrating. If you had smooth sailing with this model, let us know.

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