• Price When Reviewed: 33 . 55

  • Pros: Burns discs quickly. Supports all formats, and boasts LightScribe disc-label printing.

  • Cons: LightScribe printing is slow. No Mac software.

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

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It was mooted for a long time that 16x was the fastest DVD burners were ever going to get. Going any faster, it was said, would lead to discs shattering in drives. However, we’ve not encountered any such problems following the arrival of this 18x speed drive from HP.

HP’s dvd940i is essentially a rebadged Lite-On LH-18A1P – though it’s also available inside a USB 2.0-driven external unit. It records single-layer DVD+R and -R discs at up to 18x speed, dual layer DVD+R DL and -R DL at 8x, DVD+RW rewritable discs at 8x, and -RW at 6x. It even supports DVD-RAM media, recording at 12x.

What this jumble of numbers and letters means is that single layer discs take about five minutes to burn, about a minute faster than 16x drives. Dual-layer DVD+Rs take under 20 minutes rather than 25 for an older 4x drive, and there’s no point buying -R DL media as you’ll have to wait longer for it to burn.

Burning both sides

The drive also offers HP’s LightScribe technology for printing greyscale images onto the top surface of a disc. Though reminiscent of those thermo-printers from the days of the Sinclair ZX81, that burned images into metallic paper, LightScribe’s results look pretty good.

Of course, high-end photo printers such as Canon’s PIXMA iP6700D offer better looking, full-colour prints onto disc labels, but it’s more expensive and fiddly – and the quality of LightScribe is more than enough to convince clients of your professionalism. LightScribe printing does take time though, as a pro-quality high-resolution image can take up to 35 minutes to print.

The dvd940i ships with Nero OEM Suite, which includes the basic Nero Express software for burning and LightScribe support in the Nero Cover Designer tool. There’s no Mac software included, though the drive will work with applications such as Toast.

If you need to produce DVDs quickly and with professional-looking results, HP’s dvd940 will fit the bill.