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Hi Richard, yes you can burn DVDs with your laptop. Check the CD/DVD disc that came with your computer. However, I understand its pre-installed either with Roxio or Sonic utilities. On the other hand, if you have Vista and Windows 7 it will do as well.
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There is no write protection for the dvd as long as it has not been written to. For burning DVDs on XP you need to use software, Windows XP natively can only burn CDs. For XP I recommend CDBurnerXP The software is free and will allow you to burn DVD's and DL DVDs
Read on your optical drive. If it burns CD's it reads CD-RW. In order to burn DVD's it needs ro read DVD-RW. If it reads DVD-ROM it will only read DVD's not burn them.
A good external burner is Plextor. You can get one at Walmart, or you can check Ebay and find an internal to replace the one in your machine. They are fairly easy to replace, and you won't have a bulky external to carry around.
Well I am not surprised ya can't get it to work.. It can all be quite confusing....
I suggest that you try some "Other" burning software. I recommend CopytoDVD...AnyDVD ... convertXtoDVD....
See one has to have a program that will "Burn" in a Format suitable for ALL players PC & stand alone DVD's the ones I have listed Just work... ensure you read the "Help" files and B4 long ya will be watching DVD's.