We've seen enough external DVD burners so that it takes a little something extra to impress us—and Other World Computing's Mercury Pro DVD-/+RW provides that something. Among the extras are a software bundle that includes the capable DragonBurn for CD and DVD burning, and stacks of blank media—25 CD-Rs and 5 DVD-Rs—so you can hit the ground burning.
But wait, there's more! The case sports dual FireWire 400 ports for daisy-chaining, plus a USB 2.0 port for those whose Macs are so enabled (it's backward compatible, but woe is he who has to burn DVDs over USB 1.1). Whichever connection you choose, the cable is in the box. And did we mention how much we appreciate the stacks of blank discs that come with this drive? It's not lame, outdated media either: The CD-Rs are rated at a fast 52X, and the DVDs at 4X. Sure, the drive can burn at 8X—which Apple reached only in its latest Power Mac G5s, announced on June 9, 2004—but we'd feel greedy to complain. CD-burning speed is less cutting-edge, but 24X is decent for a CD/DVD burner.
The included DragonBurn works fine for copying and authoring basic CDs and DVDs, but options for interactive DVDs are limited—and yes, Apple's iDVD still refuses to acknowledge external burners. iTunes recognized the Mercury Pro and happily burned MP3 and audio discs once we selected it as the burner in iTunes' preferences. Burning from the Finder was even easier, with no preferences to check. It's also worth mentioning that this drive supports the DVD+R/RW formats in addition to good old DVD-R/RW—but we've gotten along fine with only the latter.
Although the Mercury Pro's case may be a yawner aesthetically, this drive is a great performer. —Niko Coucouvanis