WHAT'S HOT: Although the CD-Writer 9900ci may not break speed records, it does deliver the one-two punch of a strong CD-R/RW 12X/10X/32X writer plus an 8X DVD-ROM reader. The ability to play DVD movies from your CD-RW drive is appealing--especially if you have a system that's strapped for resources. That way, you can use a single 5.25-inch internal drive bay and a single IDE and power connection for both functions--a bonus for almost anyone who needs to implement both a CD-RW and DVD-ROM system upgrade. The performance of this drive was excellent for its speed class when writing 650MB to CD-R on the fly, taking 6 minutes, 48 seconds, bested only by the new TDK 12/10/32A. And it took a respectable 1 minute, 30 seconds to burn 100MB to CD-RW.
WHAT'S NOT: HP's MyCD software, included for CD mastering tasks, offers basic burning functionality but doesn't let users write an image to a CD-R disc.
WHAT ELSE: The excellent software bundle includes Adaptec's DirectCD for packet writing, HP's Simple Backup, Arcsoft's Photo Center, Arcsoft's Video Impression, PowerDVD movie player, Acid Music Creator, MusicMatch Jukebox, and CD Labeler. HP offers a one-year warranty. Support is available for 12 hours on weekdays, but it's not a toll-free call. We saw this drive being sold online at prices well below the average street price listed, so it pays to shop around.
UPSHOT: An excellent choice if you've been meaning to add both a DVD-ROM and a CD-RW drive to your system. Although DVD-RW drives are around the corner, they're still nearly three times the price, and those drives' CD-RW write speeds will be slower than the HP combo drive's.
Hewlett-Packard CD-Writer 9900ci
12X/10X/32X and 8X DVD-ROM, IDE, internal, 2MB buffer, buffer underrun compensation technology, Hewlett-Packard MyCD and Adaptec DirectCD 3.01; one-year warranty, 12-hour weekday support.
Street price: $250
By Melissa J. Perenson