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Data Storage Hardware

DVD Writer RoundUp 146

CodeHog writes "Got socks instead of the new DVD writer you were looking for this holiday season? Tom's Hardware has a writeup on the latest DVD writers and their 'true speeds'. The conclusions may be surprising: higher speeds won't necessarily do any good as media availability continues to be a problem." From the article: "Despite the stagnation of write speeds for DVD-R and DVD+R at 16x, new DVD writers are regularly being marketed, since performance for other types of writing (RW and dual-layer) is still improving. But as is customary, manufacturers of writers have a lead on media manufacturers. For this article, we visited all the stores to see what types of media are actually available for sale, and once again the result was most enlightening. You can find 16x-compatible -R and +R discs, but in the other formats they simply aren't out there."
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DVD Writer RoundUp

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2005 @12:47PM (#14358706)
    Yes, you can find some, but they're not avaiable in the same specs the high end PATA versions. Are they that difficult to make? Because it seems like this would be a good way to at least get the enthusiasts buying new drives. I'd like to make my next computer purely SATA based.
    • Is SATA really worth it? I know it's a pain to route ATA cables, but I simply don't see SATA drives as worth the premium.

      I'm curious what Apple used, the latest Powermacs are all SATA, previous iterations had PATA optical drives with SATA hard drives.
    • Just got the Plextor SATA DVD/CD RW 716SA... very happy with it, 100% compatable with my Intel motherboard and NO MORE PARALELL CABLES! This was an upgrade to my Yamaha SCSI 8x CD writer from 2001... hopefully the Plextor will last me at least 4 years as it's replacement.
    • I feel SATA drives are good because you don't have to worry about a master/slave drive setup where one drive may hog the bus, whether it's another optical or hard disk. I don't think many companies make them and I'd rather get something like the NEC 4550/3550 or Pioneer 110(D). You can always get an adaptor but that would drive up the cost, sometimes 100+% of what the drive costs.
    • firewire/usb2.0 is your friend
    • Well I honestly do not see benefit of SATA just yet, besides it has neater cables and no master/slave annoyance.

      It'll be more useful in future with flash-RAM cached HDD's, which will be able to send out data from time to time at speeds that make sense to be SATA.

      If ain't broken, don't fix it. Many motherboards have SATA, but buggy implementation. Also SATA isn't much faster than PATA right now. It's still on the PCI bus for most motherboards, while to make full use of its speed it has to be on a separate bu
  • Some Advice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 1000StonedMonkeys ( 593519 ) on Thursday December 29, 2005 @12:49PM (#14358718)
    Never trust a DVD writer review that doesn't take into account burn quality and media compatibility. That's how DVD drives differentiate themselves today.
    • Some Advice: Have a quick look at the article before posting; media compatibility is provided as there's a listing of each burning speed for the various different media types.
      • By media compatibility, I mean how well the drive does on different brands of media. This varies greatly between drives, and is one of the most important pieces of information you can have to get the most out of your drive.
        • Not only that, but the QUALITY of the burn, meaning, how many errors are actually on the disc. This can be checked with Nero CD-DVD Speed [] that comes packaged with Nero. Would you rather have a 10 minute burn with a few thousand errors or a 10 minute and 30 second burn with a few hundred errors? Again, this varies widely by media also.
      • Re:Some Advice (Score:2, Informative)

        by ppz003 ( 797487 )
        The burning speeds listed are just the maximum possible speeds for each type of media. What the gp was trying to say is how does each burner work with the different chemical types of each media. Not all DVD-R's are alike.
    • Re:Some Advice (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ppz003 ( 797487 ) on Thursday December 29, 2005 @12:56PM (#14358771) Homepage
      That's what I can't understand about these types of reviews. So what if one drive can write faster than any other if I lose the data a couple years before the other drives' outputs. Maybe people who back up data constantly for a living might be concerned with the speed, but for my money, I'll burn as slow as needed to achieve a consistantly readable disk.

      This review would be much more interesting if they showed some quality data with each burner.
    • Re:Some Advice (Score:2, Interesting)

      NEVER trust a DVD writer review that praises plextor? Plextor *USED* to make the best writers, but their 740 series has a VERY HIGH failure rate, and the 716 is actually a remarked Benq drive!
      • "Plextor *USED* to make the best writers, but their 740 series has a VERY HIGH failure rate, and the 716 is actually a remarked Benq drive!"

        Never trust someone who gives incorrect information. The Plextor 740 is a remarked BENQ drive (as is the SONY DRU810a). Of course, the BENQ has more features and is cheaper than the rebadged drive, if you can find it.....

        The 716 is a nice drive if cost is no object. The BENQ is the best drive for the money (DW1640).
    • Re:Some Advice (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SuperBanana ( 662181 )
      Never trust a DVD writer review that doesn't take into account burn quality and media compatibility.

      Ding, thank you. My Plextor external firewire DVD burner, which cost a rather pretty penny, claims to have all sorts of dodads to let it write to virtually everything, even lower quality media. "PowerRec" and some sort of angle adjustment widget, the whole 9 yards. 16x write and so on.

      Imagine my surprise when:

      • It could burn DVD's at 16x but couldn't burn a CD-R, even the Memorex brand Plextor suggests
      • Not exactly what I expected from the drive "techies" all seem to recommend, and the premium end of the market

        Don't be surprised. It's ALL going downhill now. All the great quality brands you could depend on, have turned to crap in the past few years. The expensive Plextor drive you bought was probably manufactured in the same Chinese plant as a $30 NEC drive.

        In my experience, just about everything I've bought in the past several years has failed at about the 2 year mark.

        What's the solution? I really don

        • From what I've read, rebadged LiteOn CDRWs are not as good as own-name LiteOns -- supposed to be something to do with the firmware. Dunno about here, but with other rebadged components, that often means the chips themselves are seconds.

          Myself, I have a bunch of own-name LiteOn CDRWs and DVD-ROMs in heavy use with zero problems (I've yet to see one fail). I just got an own-name LiteOn DVD writer, hopefully it'll be the workhorse its older kin have been.

          • Maybe the electronics in LiteOns will last for years, but the drives are (all?) defective from day one.

            You get crazy things, such as the drive needing to be closed by software to be able to set the recording speed, different recording modes that simply don't work, standard recording modes that leave out certain bits of information (like subchannel data) making it completely non-standard, and playable only in devices which ignore the standard to comply with LiteOn's completely disregard for quality.

            Sorry for
            • I don't do any special-format burning, so can't speak to that, tho do have to wonder how much of what you mention is the drive, and how much the burning software? I know there were compatibility issues with video disks written by some versions of Roxio.

              As to data disks (written with plain old Nero, which I detest but use because it writes no coasters) my LiteOns have been 100% reliable, and two of 'em have done a number of marathon burn sessions. And I've never seen one of their drives die (unlike Yamahas,
              • tho do have to wonder how much of what you mention is the drive, and how much the burning software? I know there were compatibility issues with video disks written by some versions of Roxio.

                I can assure you it is 100% the drive. I don't use Windows/Mac at all, so all my burning is done with cdrecord, cdrdao, burncd, dvdrecord, etc. etc.
                • Hmmmm... so you're on some species of *NIX?
                  Still wonder if it could be a glitch in your burning software? as you're the only such case I've heard of, and not only myself but also all my clients use LiteOn drives, w/o any problems.

                  Or maybe it's something in the LiteOn firmware that's not completely compatible with your setup?

                  Very often the "obvious culprit" isn't really at fault, or is not the whole story... frex the "47 day rollover bug" in Win9x: It does *not* affect ALL Win9x systems (at least three of mi
                  • Still wonder if it could be a glitch in your burning software? as you're the only such case I've heard of, and not only myself but also all my clients use LiteOn drives, w/o any problems.

                    I'm certainly not the only one with the issue. It's well-known that Lite-on drives don't write subchannel data, causing problems particularly with older audio CD players which expect that info. You can just try to set your drive to a slightly lower speed and watch it still record at maximum (4X was the only expection in m

                    • Well, maybe I'm just lucky :) or haven't ever done what's needed to run into the issue; I don't have any non-PC playback equipment. However friends use their burned disks with various standalone players and haven't complained of anything amiss. Tho I know some players are very fussy, while others will play any piece of crap.

                      If you've got a link to documentation of the problem, I'd be interested in seeing it.

    • I want to know how well the drive reads a scratched up disk...

      These sites always test how fast these drives are in a controlled environment.

      With hard drives, it's understandable since most users use the drive in a controlled environment during normal usage. What I mean by this is; the platters are safely enclosed, and the worst that generally happens is heat build-up or ribbon damage.

      Optical drives, on the other hand, do not operate in anything resembling "ideal use" during normal operation. It would be n
  • by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Thursday December 29, 2005 @12:51PM (#14358737) Journal
    I've always wondered what the physical difference was between, say 8x and 16x discs. And if they are physically different are there differences as far as data loss rates? For instance, if one can be written with a faster laser (less energy writing each dot) then are they more suceptable to degrading over time?
  • Dual Layer (Score:5, Informative)

    by mysqlrocks ( 783488 ) on Thursday December 29, 2005 @12:52PM (#14358740) Homepage Journal
    And we weren't even able to find anybody to sell us dual-layer DVD-Rs!

    Wow, really? Where did they look? -R []
  • ALL about DvD (Score:4, Informative)

    by earthstar ( 748263 ) on Thursday December 29, 2005 @12:56PM (#14358772) Journal
    On a related note, [] has all the info about DvD's on its DvD FAQ [].

    Also see my journal about Nero 7 DvD burning probs.In short ,stick with Nero Version 6.X

  • $40 Lite-On DVD burner. Never failed me. I love it.
    • Yeah? Where is the Lite-On burner? I guess they didn't pay enough to get the review...
    • I want to second this. I have 10 Lite-On drives in my apartment, and not a single one has ever given me problems. For the price they make the best product I have seen where CD and DVD writers/readers are concerned. If I am not mistaken quite a few drives out there are rebranded Lite-Ons (I could be wrong about this, admittedly).

    • Yeah, it's just sick how cheap this hardware has gotten! I haven't looked at DVD writer prices in soooo long. Now you can get the NEC model from TFA (actually the next model up) for $38 []. You can pick one up for the price of a video game.
    • FWIW, cheap is not necessarily good. But LiteOn is excellent. I've owned lots of LiteOn drives of every flavor, and I've been more than pleased with all of them. Then again, there are some expensive drives I've had trouble with, mainly Sony, and I had a Plextor which was a nightmare. I think what it comes down to is the drive manufacturer. Price does not necessarily reflect this, but it would be wrong to say without qualification that cheap is good. Also, realize that some brands are rebadges and sometimes
      • I've got LG for my cheap writer, after being quite happy with their CD-ROM and DVD-ROM drives. It's worked a treat. My first DVD burner was a Pioneer A04, mainly 'cause of Mac OS compatibility. By that same logic, I replaced the A04 with a 110D, which isn't Mac OS officially supported--but it no longer matters, because Tiger doesn't care as much and I know about PatchBurn now anyway.

        The LG has been more reliable at linked packet writing than the very slightly more expensive Pioneer 110D. Both of them

        • Re:cheap != good (Score:3, Informative)

          by Shanep ( 68243 )
          I recently switched backup media to DVD+R from -R, and upgraded the Pioneer's firmware, and put them both on USB 2.0 instead of FireWire, and they both work well now. Something about the Pioneer and my cheapo USB + FireWire cages was resulting in complete FireWire bus hangs.

          There is a USB2/Firewire chipset (Prolific PL-3507) which is just downright broken. The A revision is not flash upgradable without desoldering the chip and the subsequent revisions are flashable, however the "fixed" firmware is pretty mu
    • I've had 2 liteon drives (both cd-rw) die on me. Each lasted about 9 months at the most and both dies from some mechcanial problem, since right before they died, they made some wierd grinding noise. They also got pretty hot quickly too. Right now I have a NEC dvd writer that runs much cooler for about the same price as the old liteon drives.
    • Re:cheap = good (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      > Lite-ON

      Ugh! Dell uses them in computers, and some models have a near 100% failure rate! Do some research before recommending garbage like that.

      As an example, in the last batch of 480 computers we bought from Dell, we've replaced almost 600 Lite-On DVD/CDR drives. That's more than 1 per computer. The only reason we haven't replaced more than that is that we've started replacing the drives with Sony's that we pay for out of our pocket rather than using the Dell 3 year on-site warranty we paid a lot o
      • Re:cheap = good (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Shanep ( 68243 )
        > Lite-ON

        This post is hilarious for so many reasons.

        Ugh! Dell uses them in computers, and some models have a near 100% failure rate!

        Bullshit. No model of ANYTHING that has a "100% failure rate" will remain available for long.

        Do some research before recommending garbage like that.

        Anyone who did research Lite-On quality, will find most people have very good things to say about them.

        As an example, in the last batch of 480 computers we bought from Dell, we've replaced almost 600 Lite-On DVD/CDR drives. That'
        • Ahhh, here's an education for you then... Sony CDRW drives are made by... wait for it... Lite-On. Oh, and they are not made to Sony specification or design, they are Lite-On designed and built, with slightly modified firmware to pretend to be a Sony, complete with Sony top sticker and Sony faceplate. I'm not sure how many Sony DVDRW drives are made by Lite-On, but I beleive I have seen at least one laptop Sony DVDRW drive with, oddly enough, a Lite-On sticker on top.

          Well, I guess that would explain why I co
    • Lite-On is also one of few brands for which you can actually verify the burn quality. Well, you can if you believe in Kprobe [].

    • $40 Lite-On DVD burner. Never failed me. I love it.

      I agree. I currently have a DVDRW DL (desktop size) Lite-On, a DVDRW DL (laptop size) Lite-On, 2x CDRW Lite-On's (one Lite-On branded, the other Iomega which I have sinced kept up to date with Lite-On firmware updates), a DVDROM Lite-On and an NEC DVDRW. I also recommend Lite-On to all my customers and have had far too much experience with Pioneer DVDRW drives.

      I have never had a Lite-On go bad on me, they perform fantastically and they are very cheap. Chanc
      • Pioneer just don't like supporting Australia full stop, I bought a DVR-K05 for my laptop and just needed the CSEL firmware for it, but they don't have it on their site (despite being shipped with some drives mine wasn't) I tried e-mailing then and got told that they don't support them. But I still bought a 110 for my desktop the other week, as they are the best burners I've used.
  • Mt Rainier ?? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    None of the drives reviewed have Mt. Rainier functionality. I thought that was to become ubiquitous by now. Aren't Mt. Rainier error recovery aspects the only way DVD can compete with DVD RAM for data discs?
    • I think this is yet another case of manufacturers focusing on speed, rather than rounding out functionality. That said, we've hit the max speed for DVD reading/writing at 16x, so maybe we'll see some traction there.
  • Hmmm (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Still, who's interested in burning to dual-layer when the price of two single-layer DVDs is well below the cost of one dual-layer?

    People who want to make totally legal Fair Use backups of games they get from blockbuster of course.
    • Still, who's interested in burning to dual-layer when the price of two single-layer DVDs is well below the cost of one dual-layer?

      If you have a file that is larger than a single-layer DVD, it is much more convenient to back up to one dual-layer than to two single-layer DVDs. Like a Ghost of a drive for instance.

  • First, thanks to the article submitter for supplying the "printable" version of the article and aleviating us from having to click through 20 "pages" of reviews.

    Second, I own a black ND-3540A that I got from Newegg three months ago for $38.00. It is very nice and replaced a generic CD-RW drive that was just terribly loud. Newegg doesn't stock the ND-3540A anymore. However, they do have the ND-3550A for about $40.00, which is a very good price (you better hurry because they are limited, 500 to a custom

    • I have wanted a dvd burner for years but i could never decide what one to get, i wanted to get the best one for the money and i didnt want to do any detailed researching (im lazy)

      So i see this article, i scroll to the conclusion part of the article. The two winners, the ND-3540A and the toshiba that isn't out yet. I do a quick search for ND-3540A, wow only $44

      A few minutes later, and I just ordered my first DVD burner!

      Thanks slashdot =P
      • For the last 2 years, DVD writers have become so cheap ($30-$40, dual-format) that it barely makes sense to save $20 and buy a regular DVD-ROM drive. We no longer order laptops without burner capability.

        All of my home-built desktop machines now have burners. Even if I don't have burner software installed, I can always borrow those drives for use in the other machines if one breaks.

    • I second this.
      The ND-3540A has been great for me so far, and you just can't beat the price.
    • ...I definitely recommend it, especially if you are a *nix user, as I have encountered no problems at all with it in that respect.

      Being able to flash it from Linux was the deciding factor when I bought the NEC ND-3540A. See []

      Never had the the chance to try it since the drive went dead after less than 4 months, having burned less than 10 discs in total. Perhaps it died from underuse? Well...

    • I've had some pretty good luck playing some fairly well scratched up DVDs from Netflix using my 3540. The same DVDs didn't play or skipped in a couple of other players.
  • I just got a Pioneer 110D from a sneaky local store []. It died 20 days later and as it turns out the store will only warranty their stuff for 2 weeks (nasty, that's posted nowhere and it's not on the receipt). Now, I'm trying to get Pioneer to fix it but they are saying that they have none in stock and are urging it me to deal with the store. The store in the mean time reversed their stance and is now offering to exchange the drive for $20 ("shipping" to the distributor). Anyway, a whole lot of fun. Last Pion
  • by mmell ( 832646 ) on Thursday December 29, 2005 @01:18PM (#14358937)
    After all, I've seen huge differences for both CD-R and DVD+R performance caused by using different brands of media. I've even had outright failures while using Maxcel brand media (ymmv, that's just my experience).

    In the CD-RW and DVD-RW arena, I'll be slower to judge as I haven't seen the same kind of variances; then again, once I've purchased RW media, I don't need to purchase more so I haven't seen a wide variety of brands in this area. I suspect that a similar situation exists.

    I haven't even touched DL-R or DL-RW yet - the media costs are prohibitive. Who wants to pay 8-10x as much per platter for a medium which only delivers around 1.8x the data density?

    In the end, I'm not too sure I care so much about write times (hey, I can spare a few extra seconds when I burn a DVD or CD - it's not like I do so for a living), so much as data reliability, medium durability, media cost and compatibility.

    Bottom line - while the drive is important, it's nothing without the media; so long as the drive functions correctly, it seems likely that there's more to be gained by selecting the proper media for use in the drive.

    • while using Maxcel brand media

      Ahh. See, it's not your media that's at fault. It's your Sorny burner!
    • I haven't even touched DL-R or DL-RW yet - the media costs are prohibitive. Who wants to pay 8-10x as much per platter for a medium which only delivers around 1.8x the data density?

      You're spoiled by today's prices for media. Three years ago, you typically paid $2 or so per disc for 4GB media. (Which is the price point at which DVD media sales seem to have taken off.)

      8GB media is just getting below the $2 each price point. (There are cakeboxes that are around $2/disc.) So as volume goes up on them,
      • However, the price per byte is still approximately five times as high for DL as opposed to +R (or +RW for that matter).

        It's called "skimming the market". The prices will drop . . . I'll wait.


  • Strange things... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by yuretz ( 934955 ) on Thursday December 29, 2005 @01:30PM (#14359048)
    I've noticed that strange things happen with storage technology. First we had 5.25" floppies. I used the same 5.25" floppies for months and had no troubles with bad sectors and unreadable files. Than 3.5" appeared and we have just realized that old-style floppies are not reliable and loosing data due to disk error is really easy. 3.5" disk was hard to damage and could be used for months or even years. After that, the era of CDs/CD-R/CD-RW began. Diskettes again appeared very unreliable. At some moment, I've realized that I'm not sure that I'll be able to read data written on the floppy I bought yesterday! But, CD-R or CD-RW seemed everlasting and very, very, very reliable storage medium. There was no such thing like unreadable CD. The CD drive speeds was growing, but the quality and reliability was going down! Now we have DVD era, and when I burn a CD with my CD-RW, I always check that the data was written correctly and can be read. Sometimes, I have even to burn a disk two times to be absolutely sure. Probably the DVD storage medium will have the same fate. Will it ever end?
    • Re:Strange things... (Score:3, Informative)

      by klui ( 457783 )
      Stop using cheap (rather than inexpensive, but good) media. Taiyo Yuden and Verbatim are good brands.
      • I know nothing about Taiyo Yuden, but I agree that Verbatim is really good, and I use the their CD-R/RW regularly. Nevertheless, I think the problem is not in media, but in manufacturer's market strategy.
      • I had read about Taiyo Yuden media and how great it was for a couple of years, but never saw any in the store so never bought any. After getting a DVD burner. and bveing repeatedly frustrated with store bought media (all the brands sucked), I googled and bought some Taiyo Tuden DVD media online.

        It absolutely rocks!

        I'll never use another brand.
        • Absolutely. I have yet to make a single coaster with Taiyo Yuden.

          One of the things about TY is that their CDs and DVDs are actually manufactured in Japan, as opposed to, say, China or Taiwan. Chalk up another one against outsourcing. Yes, you have to go to the online stores to get them, but the price for a TY spindle is about the same as with any other mainstream DVD media out there.
    • In related news... after Gillette released the Mach 3 razor, the quality of replacement blades for their older razors went down. I don't think it is a conspiracy to sell the new stuff, that's just a fortunate side effect (from Gillette's perspective). It's really because they quit investing in upkeep to the production lines for the old stuff.
  • Tom's Hardware has a writeup on the latest DVD writers and their 'true speeds'

    Would someone tell them 14:03 and 14:06 are not four times faster than 6:09 timings? A "true speed" 8X works for me.

    And I delved far enough into the meat of the article to see that they mixed up captions and pictures for +R and -R at 16X

  • The latest firmware for the Pioneer 110 is 1.37, not 1.22.
  • They tested a whole 5 DVD-RWs? Wow.

  • My burner just bit the dust (unburnt ring in middle sometimes, two years old), and I just got the best rated on on newegg ("beige" model since the black was out, same burner though). Good enough for me w/ it only costing $40.
  • how about noise? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by escay ( 923320 )
    it's about time the decibel level of drives is also looked at - what now with super silent SATA HDs and PSUs, the loudest component turns out to be the DVD drive. currently the user reviews from newegg are all we have for noise levels of the drives...
  • To me it looks like the current DVD drives reached the reasonable limits at DVD+/-R and RW. The write speed is only x2 better than that of x4 drive, so not much reason to upgrade. The DL is unlikely to matter, as media is very expensive and higher capacity drives are on the way. However, what happened to the MtRainer/EasyWrite support? None of the drives still support it? Looks like NEC 4550 does support DVD-RAM, but the drive is still not available in the US and it's not clear how it will compare to DVD+MR
  • The BDR-101A is the best optical recorder and it hasn't even hit stores yet. If you're wondering why we're still discussing DVD recorders, maybe it's because BDR-101A is depressing DVD recorder sales.
  • Highly conclusive, a large plethora of extensive tests, and an easy-to-read rating system on the last page of every review. they have sections for DVD recorders by speed, or just DVD+rw DL writers, plus several other optical formats (cdrw, combo, blue laser ...).

    Take a look at the CDRinfo Optical Storage [] section.

  • How many people own very high speed DVD writers? Single digit percents? If you're making media, and your exisiting line is already quite profitable for the 90%+ writers already out there, you don't have a lot of incentive to push out the new stuff yet.
  • Speed isn't everything. I prefer a slower disk with a region-free firmware update available over a faster one that lets the MPAA restrict how I use my property.
    • 16x DVD is 48x CD. As I recall, CD media starts turning to shrapnel at speeds over 56x, so that is the practical max -- ie. 18.3x for DVD, if there could be such a speed.

      And yep, if I had to choose, I'd rather have a slower unit that does it right, and isn't beholden to some special interest.

      (As it is, I just bought a LiteOn DVD DL writer, mainly cuz I have 6 LiteOn CDRW and DVD-ROM units that have been 100% reliable in heavy use.)

Some people manage by the book, even though they don't know who wrote the book or even what book.