Fast-Lane DVD Burning

Got time to burn? If you bought a 2X rewritable DVD drive a couple years ago, you'd need it: A full disc would take about as much time to write as a prime-time sitcom takes to watch. But new 8X burners can do the job before you get to the first commercial break, give or take a bad joke or two.

Some of these drives can be found for $200 or less-and can still write a complete disc in about 9 minutes. At that rate, backing up your data or creating your own video projects becomes much more tolerable.

We rounded up 10 internal and 2 external drives for evaluation by our skilled lab hands in the PC World Test Center. Our tests show that you can't go too far wrong with any of the drives in this review. The Plextor PX-708A and the Lite-On LDW-811S earned Best Buy awards by a narrow margin, mostly because of solid performance.

The process of getting a good burner may be easier than ever, but choosing the right DVD software has never been tougher-and a slew of packages are vying for your attention. Most applications have made tremendous gains in stability, features, and ease-of-use over the first, inelegantly designed DVD authoring packages. Now, anyone can create slick-looking DVD movies. Though none of the seven packages we reviewed has achieved perfection, our Best Buy, Ahead's Nero 6 Ultra Edition, comes closest. Nero 6 might not have the smoothest interface, but it was the most flexible, and feature-packed, application of the bunch. However, it has some stiff competition: Sonic's MyDVD Suite is exceptionally easy to use, and many other packages offer unique strengths and abilities.

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