The upcoming holiday season has us swamped with recordable DVD drives. In the past few weeks, we have seen recordable devices from just about every major player in the optical storage forum. Typically, only about 5 or 6 unique devices exist in the market, making the life of a hardware journalist fairly easy. Unfortunately, right now, there are literally dozens of devices based on dozens of chipsets. We will take a look at some of these chipsets and burners, and see which one is right for this holiday market.

For some of these burners, we have done independent reviews in the past. The Nu Tech DDW-081, Plextor 708A, and ASUS DRW-0402P/D have all received extensive reviews from us. Remember, the ASUS DRW-0402P/D is identical to the industry standard Pioneer 106; and, the Nu Tech DDW-081 and DDW-061 are identical drives with different firmwares. In this review, we will add a few more drives to our existing mix, including Gigabyte's GO-W0404A, the new Sony DRU-530A, and the MSI DR4-A. Furthermore, we went on a shopping spree and purchased newer units from NEC and LiteOn to keep the analysis well-rounded.

Nu Tech DDW-081
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  • Icewind - Friday, December 12, 2003 - link

    Last I heard, the dual layers wont be out till Summer 2004 #10 and your gonna be looking at major ouchy price too, especially for media.
  • artifex - Friday, December 12, 2003 - link

    I have a Verbatim-badged Ricoh DVD+R(W) that's starting to get flaky, about a year and a half after I bought it and after burning less than 100 discs. Probably less than 50, actually.

    I'd like to see some tests that show burning/ripping a couple hundred discs, to see what really survives.

    Also, anyone have a good guess as to when dual-layer-capable drives will be out? I'd really like to see those come to market soon. I won't wait for Blu-ray, but I will wait for dual-layer if it's next quarter. Maybe I'll buy one of the cheap ones in the meantime if it's longer.
  • BitByRabidAlgae - Friday, December 12, 2003 - link

    Icewind. I can tell you from my own experience that a full 4.7GB DVD+R or RW takes about 15mins to burn at 4x with my LiteOn drive using the MySonic software that came with it. The elapsed time from hitting the record button can vary depending on what kinds of files your burning. The software caches small files, if you have a lot of those, it takes a few mins to cache them all. A handful of large files though goes pretty fast and takes about 15 mins at 4x.
  • Icewind - Friday, December 12, 2003 - link

    Wait I just noticed something, WHY are there no Burn TIMES anywhere? Thats what I like to know. How long TIME wise does it take to burn various media? How could you miss that AT?
  • Icewind - Friday, December 12, 2003 - link

    Would you like some cheese with that whine #5?
  • BitByRabidAlgae - Friday, December 12, 2003 - link

    For the record, I have a LiteOn 401S, and it has performed flawlessly for me. Another thing that was not addressed was the Sony drive's pitiful read speed on pressed DVD's. This is NOT a bug. It is intentional. When the drive detects a copy-protected DVD, it locks the read speed at 2x. So, if you're looking for a drive to rip DVD's with, the Sony is a poor choice. Unless you don't mind waiting an hour to rip a 2 hour movie, when other drives can do it in 10-15 minutes. I suppose we should expect something like this from a company that owns a movie studio.

    Also, can anyone confirm the rumor that flashing the 411S BIOS in to my 401S will make it a dual format drive?
  • Belzer - Friday, December 12, 2003 - link

    Imho there are too many errors in the review to be acceptable. It can't be that hard to get the specifications of the burners etc. correct can it? Because with so many errors at least I can't trust any of the numbers in the review. Anyway here are the errors I've found when I skimmed through the review:

    Plextor: "but it also claims 16X DVD read speeds"
    Plextor, ASUS, MSI drives only read DVDs in max 12x, not 16x (the specs in the review are also wrong for these drives).

    Sony: "Since the only real difference between the DRU-530A and the Plextor 708A is the 8MB buffer"
    Sony DRU-530A also only has a 2 MB buffer, not 8 MB.

    "The drive came with an average software package, including PowerDVD and Sonic MyDVD — not quite as complete as Sony or Nu Tech's bundle."
    The Lite-On drive also comes with Sonic Recordnow and Sonic DLA (it's on the same CD as MyDVD).

    "even if the drive is a slight step down from the LDW-401S, which can burn 8X DVD+R"
    No, LDW-401S burns DVD+R in max 4x. LDW-811S on the other hand burns DVD+R in 8x.

    NEC: "DVD+RW Rewrite Speed 4X, 2.4X (CLV)"
    DVD+RW write speed is max 2.4x on the ND-1300A.

    DVD+R: "MMC 003 — 4X DVD+R"
    DVD-R: "MMC01RG20 — 4X DVD-R"
    Should be "MCC 003 — 8X DVD+R" and "MCC 01RG20 — 4X DVD-R". MCC stands for Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation and the MCC 003 is 8x media. MMC is Mitsubish Material Corporation and is not related to Mitsubishi's media manufacturing. MMC is also incorrectly mentioned several times in the text.

    "PHILIPS 041 — 4X DVD+RW" and "RICOHJPNW11 — 4X DVD+RW"
    No way that the Asus, MSI and NEC can have burned these media in 4x as they burn DVD+RW in only 2.4x.
  • DragonReborn - Friday, December 12, 2003 - link

    nice review...I think the ASUS/106 should get a little more attention. You can find that drive OEM for $120-130 and is really is awesome. The one "flaw" is that it doesn't read cd's as fast as the new boys...but who has a DVD burner that doesn't have a dedicated CD/burner? Now that I think of it...probably more than few. Well then.
  • Icewind - Friday, December 12, 2003 - link

    Wish I knew when The next speed DVD R/RW's are gonna come out so I know if it was worth waiting.

    I got 50+ burned CDs on my desk I just have to reduce.
  • wicktron - Friday, December 12, 2003 - link

    where's the 811s?

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