Shopping for a new DVD writer

I’m looking to buy a DVD writer to replace the old, barely-working DVDRom/CDRW of my Compaq Evo NX9010 laptop. Initially, my plan was to go for a USB external drive, but I was told DVD writing would be a pain.

Anyway, options for an internal drive are limited where I’m at, at present my only choices are a samsung (TSSTCorp TS-L632D), a Panasonic (UJ-850)and NEC (ND-6650A). Would any of these have any compatibility problems with some laptop brands? Do you have any feedback on those models?

Also, are there any sites containing tips on how to change laptop optical drives on our own?

I have a Panasonic UJ85J in my iMac and so far it gives good results, even reading some disks my BenQ’s cannot.

I have had much better luck using a FIREWIRE enclosure for external writing than a USB connection, for whatever reason. It just seems to work better. I would imagine that an external enclosure might end up being cheaper in the long run than getting a replacement drive for the laptop. But I’m not sure. I know when my bud had to replace his, they wanted $249 for it. His laptop only cost him $799. Was a bummer.

The Compaq Evo NX9010 is a fairly new machine and probably has USB2 sockets, so it shouldn’t be too much of a pain for you to go with that. However I agree with BK that FireWire external is a better option and probably cheaper.

Either way, you’ll have a far wider range of DVD writers to choose from, and unless you really need to have a portable burning setup, an external is the way to go IMO.

Thanks, guys. I do have USB ports, but I was told that DVD burning would be too slow through USB. I’ll have to check if the laptop has a firewire port…

It will depend on what you consider too slow.

If for you 8 to 12x it is not too slow you will be ok with an external drive.
Some will even offer you both firewire and USB 2.

Advantage of firewire comes from a simple fact - USB devices share the controller bandwith, so your 480 Mbit/sec will be shared by other devices and if it happens taht you have a USB 1 connected to the same controller (keep in mind that you can have several connector hanging from the same controller - you have to check what applies to your particular case) it will slow down the all thing.
Firewire works in a different way and that’s the reason why sometimes the firewire’s 400 Mbit/sec are faster than the 480 of USB. You have also to take into account the chipset.
Another point is that firewire is a 2 way connection and keeps a constant stream of data flowing through the channel, while USB depends on the machine Input/Output and only buffer gives the ilusion that there are no interruptions. This can be of interest for direct video burning - of the type of MiniDV avi files.

USB 2 is used for Mpeg2 video transfer, so it can be an option if you only require it.

Real disavantage of external - you have another box to carry along.
Plextor has a new drive that is rather small - the PX-608CU - besides it only does 8x, it can use all formats, including DVD-RAM.
http://www.plextor.be/products/px-608cu.asp?choice=PX-608CU

Internal drives - take care because you can face some compatibility problems, dpending how your laptop IDE channels are configure and the drive comes from factory - master or slave.
Not every board or drive comes the same way, and when it comes to drives it is not as easy as with desktop internals that you change a switch to move master to slave.
Laptop drives may require a special firmware to do it, and some manufacturers don’t provide it.