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Mac & More is the first company to start shipping Pioneer-based DVD-R/RW drives. Over the past five years, the various formats of 5.25-inch optical discs have created a minefield of confusion – from CD to the various DVD-formats.
Until recently, you had to choose between CD recording or DVD-Video, as the two were unavailable as a bundled solution. But in January, Apple announced that its top-of-the-range machine would ship with the SuperDrive, capable of both DVD-R and CD-RW recording. It was an instant hit, but the only drawback was that you had to spend £2,500 on a new Mac to get the benefits. Even now, you won’t get a machine with a SuperDrive for under £1,799.
The Mac & More drive is connected by a FireWire interface. Although the mechanism is identical, it won’t work in exactly the same way as the internal Apple drive. The biggest difference is the ability to use Apple’s iDVD software. This is a tragedy, because it’s this software that makes DVD production something that kids can do. Apple doesn’t sell iDVD, because it comes only with the machines that support it, and doesn’t support external drives.
There are plenty of good reasons for wanting this device. For a start, professional DVD authors can use it, with Apple’s professional DVD-production software, DVD Studio Pro (£680). This is aimed at the multimedia-production market, and is a capable but extremely complex product. It does, however, allow multiple camera-angles, subtitles and Dolby Digital sound encoding – none of which can be found in iDVD.
The DVD discs hold a massive 4.7GB of data, enough to back up all those important documents. To do this, you need a copy of Toast, which can burn DVD discs in the same way it burns CDs. However, if you want to pass the disc on, the recipient will need a DVD drive. If your audience doesn’t have a DVD-ROM drive, then this drive can also burn CDs at 8x.
Despite falling short on compatibility with iDVD, and lacking DVD-Video playback, the Mac & More drive is still useful. It offers a variety of storage options in one box. Although Apple has stated that iDVD won’t support the extended Pioneer drive, I hope it’ll change its tune when there are more of these drives around. If you can’t afford £1,799 for a whole new Mac with built-in DVD-R SuperDrive, this is a great option.