This was a birthday present (well, at least he doesn’t buy me kitchen appliances), and it’s great to have a super-fast CD and DVD reader and recorder that — in theory — burns the DL (double-layer) 8.5GB disks. Ripping an entire music CD using iTunes takes less than four minutes; writing a 4GB data backup to DVD is faster than I ever imagined possible. Although I bought a lightweight external CD writer/DVD reader with the tc4200 (which has no internal CD drive), I keep that for travel and use this racehorse for everyday use.
The down side: the “in theory” bit about the 8.5GB disks. I bought a pack of TDK DVD+R DL disks, which appear to meet the specifications, but had no luck burning. After several back-and-forth emails with HP support, they admitted that “DL discs that are manufactured using the ‘2P’ process will not be compatible with the dvd640 series”, and recommended that I buy HP (of course) or Verbatim disks. It would have been nice if they had mentioned this in any of the product documentation or on the product website before I spent $30 on a pack of 5 disks, or even if they explained what the dreaded “2P” process is and how I can tell whether disks were manufactured with that process from the packaging. Apparently HP is working on a firmware upgrade to try and fix the problem, but I’m not holding my breath. In the meantime, I bought a 100-pack of 4GB disks for under $50 at Costco, so I’m quite happy with $0.50 per disk instead, even if they are only half the capacity of the $6 ones.