A combination of falling prices and a recent doubling in capacity has catapulted DVD writers to the top of every discerning PC user's shopping list.

As recently as our February issue, even a cheap DVD writer was likely to set you back £115 or more. That price has almost halved in the last six months and four of the drives in this month's (August) DVD writer top ten can be snapped up for between £65-£66.

This is despite the fact that the DVD-R/+R writing facilities have, on average, doubled in speed from 4x to 8x.

Included in our roundup is our first look at the new Double Layer (DVD-9) technology, allowing users to store up to 8.5GB in one go. Double Layer discs have two rather than (in the case of standard 4.7GB DVD media) one recording layer. Because the top recording layer is semi-transparent, it’s possible for the drive to ‘look’ through it in order to see the additional recording layer underneath.

There are drawbacks, however. Because the top layer absorbs part of the laser, the write and read speeds fall when you using the disc in Double Layer mode. See page 214 of our August issue for the full low-down. (The August issue is on sale 24 June.)