Using the Sure Thing software is very simple and you’ll be labelling your LightScribe discs in no time at all. Simply select LightScribe as your label type, then you can add text or just import an image from anywhere on your PC. Once imported you can drag the image around a virtual representation of your disc until you have it lined up just right, then it’s just a matter of clicking the print button and amusing yourself for half an hour.
Talking of finding ways to amuse yourself while you’re waiting, it’s probably about time that I covered the subject of writing performance. First let’s look at the basic specifications. The dvd640i is a 16x drive, but only when it comes to DVD+R media, while DVD-R discs are still limited to 8x burning. Both DVD+RW and DVD-RW discs are written at a very conventional 4x, but it’s the 2.4x DVD+R dual layer writing that’s really going to leave you twiddling your thumbs, while the complete lack of support for DVD-R dual layer is also a slight worry. I downloaded the very latest firmware and flashed the drive in the hope of improving these specs, but alas, it made no difference to the burn speeds.
Looking at the tests, the 16x performance using DVD+R discs was pretty average with every result over six minutes, but the dvd640i really started to fall behind the competition with its 8x DVD-R writing. However, when it came to DVD+R DL performance the HP proved to be nowhere near recently reviewed drives – the dvd640i took a mammoth 46 minutes 23 seconds to burn 8.1GB of digital images, compared to 19 minutes 55 seconds on the NEC ND-3540A. That’s a massive difference, so if you’re intending to burn a lot of dual layer media, this probably isn’t the drive for you.
The dvd640i also isn’t the fastest CD writer on the block, mainly due to its 40x CD-R performance, which is a step behind the 48x offered by most modern drives.
The last consideration is price, and once again the HP finds it hard to compete with other units on the market. With a price of £51.43 for the retail box, the dvd640i is far from cheap, and you can buy much faster drives for far less. Of course those drives won’t be able to offer LightScribe functionality, and that has to be the deciding factor here. If you really want to burn LightScribe discs, this is the drive to have, but you’re going to have to accept the below par writing performance.
There’s no denying that LightScribe is a superb feature and one that I would love to have in my PC. Unfortunately, the dvd640i is just too far behind the competition when it comes to performance, and my advice would be to wait for the next generation LightScribe compatible drive and get the best of both worlds.