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HP CD-RW/DVD Combo 9900ci

Attractive option

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Review Drives that combine the facilities of DVD-ROM and CD-RW have gained a foothold in the consumer market. Potential buyers initially held off because the drives were expensive and had lower specifications than standalone CD-RWs and DVD-ROM devices.

However, the benefits offered by combining all the features of a CD-writer and a DVD-ROM into a single drive make units like the 9900ci an attractive option. This is an internal IDE drive, so you'll have to open up your PC to fit it, but HP makes installation simple thanks to a video guide. The drive comes with everything you need to get burning straight away, from all the necessary software to a couple of blank discs.

There are quicker drives available, such as our number one drive from Plextor, but the 9900ci still has worthy specifications. It lacks BurnProof technology and only has a 2MB buffer to cope with underruns, but the 32-/12-/10-speed (read/write/rewrite) CD-RW and eight-speed DVD-ROM gave good results.

It zipped through our tests, managing an impressive 1.1MBps (megabytes per second) data transfer rate to a CD-RW, and an average read speed of 1.48MBps. HP tries to simplify the burning process by using the guts of Adaptec's software, and here lies our only bone of contention. Following Flash-animated instructions is great for first-time users, but we found it a little condescending. There are no advanced options and we suspect most users will eventually want to buy Adaptec's full package.

The 9900ci is still a little more expensive than the standalone competition, but you're only paying about an extra £30 and you get a DVD-ROM thrown in as well. It offers good value for money and quality specifications. Its performance should leave you in no doubt that this is a Recommended buy.

Stats

Price: £189
Contact: 0870 547 4747
Website: www.hp.com

Specs

Data buffer size: 2MB
Interface type: EIDE
Dimensions: 146x199x42mm
Read/Write/rewrite speed: 32x/12x/10x 8x DVD

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