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HP CD writer screws Win2K machine

Review Nice drive, shame about the Win2K support

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Is it just me? Every time I try an HP product under Windows 2000, something nasty happens.

In the case of my trusty old OfficeJet all-in-one, nothing happens at all as there still aren't any Win2K drivers for it. Still, installing WinME seemed to get round the problem, but that's not really the point, is it?

It was with some degree of hope that I tried HP's new top of the range CD rewriter, the $299 9510i. A 12x write, 8x rewrite and 32x read internal IDE drive, this one comes with Win 9x and Win2K drivers. It even says it supports Win 2K on the box.

The first machine I tried it on, a 1GHz PIII in an Intel Vancouver mobo with 256Mb of Rambus memory, dual boots Windows ME and Win2K Professional. Under ME, everything installed without a glitch and worked first time. Not bad seeing as the box already had a DVD and a Matshita CD R/W drive installed.

Booting the same machine to Win2K (build 2195, SP1), the install proceeded normally but on restarting (a requirement of the Adaptec software) neither the HP writer, the existing CD R/W or the DVD drive worked - their drivers had been zapped and refused to reinstall. Removing and redetecting the drives had no effect.

Thinking this might be a conflict with the mobo's Intel Ultra ATA drivers, I uninstalled them. (Although in retrospect there was really no need to try this as they worked fine under Win ME)

Next I removed the Adaptec and HP drivers and disabled the 9510i. Both original CD and DVD drives remained disabled. Then I physically removed the 9510i, rebooted Win2K with the last known good configuration, still no CD drives.

Then things started to go downhill.

The hard disk partition containing Win2K became mysteriously corrupted beyond the operating system's self repair capabilities, necessitating a clean reinstall of Win2K, all the software and data. Six hours later and I had a working system, needless to say not including the HP writer.

If at first you don't succeed…
Another Win2K machine, this time a dual processor P3 500 using an Intel Lancewood server mobo, was equipped with the 9510i. This time the software installed without a glitch and everything seemed to be working properly.

Until, that is, when I tried to copy a CD.

I tried copying an entire data CD from the machine's existing 32x CD (primary IDE channel slave) to the HP writer (secondary IDE channel master). After about two minutes the copy failed, suggesting I should clean the destination CD. I checked it and it looked fine, but it had been crocked in some way making it unusable.

Could be faulty media, thought I, so tried again with a fresh CD-R. This too fell over midway through copying, again corrupting the target CD. With two 500MHz processors working together with 512Mb of RAM, this was deemed unlikely to have resulted from the system running out of steam.

And as a special bonus, the machine would no longer close down properly, hanging before reaching the 'Windows is closing down' splash screen.

Never say die

So I took the HP drive out and tried it in a third (ME only) machine, a P3 800MHz in a SR440BX mobo. Again it worked like a dream rather than a nightmare with no adverse effects on the system. The Adaptec software is particularly elegant.

This certainly suggests that once again, HP has some - ahem - challenges in the Win2K driver department.

Bit of a shame, that. I have no qualms in recommending the 9510i for Win9x users - it feels and sounds well built, performs well, the Adaptec and HP software supplied is excellent and you also get a free copy of Sonic Foundry's wonderful Acid Music to play with.

But if you're running, or plan to upgrade to Win2K, don't touch this HP drive with a barge pole. ®

Related stories

Win2K drivers: HP loses the plot completely
Win2K drivers: HP staff not happy bunnies
HP driver saga - get your own back
HP Win2K drama continues
HP eventually wakes up to Win2K

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