Benq 2108VR-002 DVD-R/RW Writer

Benq's DVD-RW drive is inexpensive, but it may require a software upgrade from the vendor in order to burn rewritable DVDs

Benq's first rewritable DVD drive is much like the Pioneer DVR-A04, with identical specs and similar product design (right down to the easy-to-grasp tab on the drive's jumper that makes it simple to extract the jumper and replace it on another set of pins).

The drive writes to DVD-R at 2X, and to DVD-RW at only 1X (1.38MBps). Unfortunately, we were unable to compare this drive's performance with that of the Pioneer, because this initial release doesn't include packet-writing software for drag-and-drop file transfers. Furthermore, the drive we tested included a two-year-old version of Veritas's Prassi PrimoDVD. As configured, this drive and its software supports Windows 95, 98, NT, and 2000--but thanks to the outdated software, it's the only drive on this chart that doesn't support Windows XP.

According to Benq, another variation of this drive, the 2108VR-102, will be available by August and will ship with Veritas's latest software, Record Now DX 4.11 and DLA 3.25.

The rest of the software bundle--which comes on multiple CD-ROMs--includes Sonic's MyDVD 3.0 for DVD video authoring and InterVideo WinDVD for video playback.

The drive's manual is lackluster, and contains information that's identical to that found in the multilingual operating instructions booklet.

Industry experts say that DVD-R discs, which have been around for several years, are more compatible with the existing installed base of DVD-ROM drives and DVD players than DVD+R discs are, so you're probably a bit more likely to be able to burn a video DVD that will work with a older DVD player. Another advantage of the format is the lower cost of media. At this time, DVD-RW and DVD-R media are priced by manufacturers similarly to DVD+RW and DVD+R media; however, -RW and -R media can typically be found well below the manufacturers' prices when purchased in bulk.

UPSHOT: In spite of its reasonable price, we suggest waiting for the second incarnation of this DVD-RW drive; the promised software upgrade will make this drive more competitive with other DVD-RW drives on the market.

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