Model: HP dvd640i LightScribe 16x DVD±RW
Manufacturer: Hewlett-Packard

As one of the biggest names in the computer industry, Hewlett-Packard doesn't need much of an introduction. Founded more than 60 years ago, HP got their start by producing electronic instruments. Over time, they expanded their product lineup to include computer products for both businesses and consumers. While best known for their PC's and printers, HP is no stranger to the optical storage industry. One of the founders of the DVD+RW Alliance, HP offers a wide range of products including their own line of DVD writers and blank media.

While most manufacturers have been content to introduce drives with faster reading and writing speeds, HP has been busy working on new disc labeling technology. At the 2004 Consumer Electronics Show, HP unveiled their LightScribe Direct Disc Labeling system. Developed as a better alternative to markers and stick on labels, LightScribe lets you burn silkscreen-quality labels directly onto the surface of your CD's and DVD's using the same drive that burned the data. In essence, it's as simple as burning your data, flipping the disc over and then burning the label.

Earlier this year, HP introduced one of the first LightScribe enabled DVD writers. Based on the BenQ DW1625, the dvd640i is capable of 16x DVD+R, 8x DVD-R, 4x DVD±RW and 2.4x DVD+R DL writing speeds and a maximum DVD read speed of 16x. Along with support for LightScribe, the drive also includes features like 40x CD reading and writing speeds, 24x rewriting speeds, and a software bundle from companies like Sonic and SureThing.

We've had HP's new DVD±RW drive in the 'Labs for a few weeks now and have had the time to put it through its paces. To give you an idea of what to expect from the dvd640i, we'll take a closer look at its features and then see how it compares to some of the 16x DVD±RW drives from the competition. Is support for LightScribe enough to put HP's new drive on top? More importantly, is it the drive for you? We'll answer these questions and more in our review of the HP dvd640i.

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