The lowdown on multifunction drives

What are they? As the name implies, multifunction drives perform more than one function, such as read, write and rewrite, so rewritable DVD drives, CD-R/RW drives and CD-RW/DVDs are multifunction drives.

When do you need one? You need one if you want an all-purpose drive that can read, write and rewrite DVD disks, and that can read most CD disks. If you require lots of storage per disk, a rewritable DVD drive is for you.

Where can you buy one? You can buy one online from many vendors or through retail channels in some cases. A few manufacturers won't sell directly to end users.

Is rewritable DVD cost-effective? Yes, considering all the functions it performs. It takes the place of two separate drives. And remember, prices eventually will drop as rewritable DVD drives take hold in the marketplace.

Must-know info? The DVD industry is still in a quagmire, with infighting among proponents of different standards. Buyers need to weigh their options carefully before becoming locked into a dead-end system.

With that caveat, however, you might want to take a chance on a rewritable drive just to test the potential of this exciting technology.

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