Original Link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/1454




Introduction

When we first heard the announcement that the Pioneer DVR-108 was on sale, but only at a few retail merchants, we jumped. The DVDR scene has been fairly quiet since the introduction of the last round on Sanyo based burners (MSI DR12A, Sony DRU-540A, Plextor PX-712A) and thus, we had been waiting for something really to sink our teeth into. Fortunately, we were able to get our hands on one of the first Pioneer drives to hit the shelves, and we have been working diligently to benchmark that drive, while at the same time, re-benchmarking some of our older drives with new media.

16X, dual layer drives sound incredibly attractive, but since dual layer media still costs several dollars a disc and 16X media exists only in the fantasies of a few hardware manufacturers, we are going to have to approach our testing of the DVR-108D as a 12X review. We have included some DVD DL media for completeness as well. Oh, and the most exciting thing about this drive? It retails for nearly the same price as the DVR-107D, well under $100.




Construction

We had an OEM drive in our hands, and the bezel was a plain beige color with nothing fancy to look at. However, the retail models of the Pioneer DVR-108, which are code-named DVR-A08XL, do come with either a black or beige bezel and have specialized round, silver eject buttons.




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The DVR-108 utilizes the NEC brand chipset.




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It will be interesting to see what the NEC 3500A has to offer compared to this Pioneer drive.




Features

Below, you can see the Infotool readout from Nero. Nero incorrectly reports the drive as only an 8X read, 4X write drive. For a little more detail, we will have to rely on DVD Info Pro. You may notice that we are still using the version 1.04 firmware; you can download the 1.06 firmware from the Pioneer Japan or Pioneer Australia websites, but since we bought the drive in the US, it only makes sense to wait for a retail US firmware update.





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There are no stellar features on this drive. We do not have any HD-Burn capability, and Mount Rainier DVD+RW is obviously not supported either. However, DVD+R Dual Layer (DVD+R9) is fully supported, and we are excited to see such an inexpensive drive support such features.

Pioneer DVR-108D 16x DVD-/+RW Drive
Interface PATA
CD Write Speed 32X, 24X ZCLV
16X, 8X, 4X CLV
CD Rewrite Speed 24X ZCLV
16X, 10X, 4X CLV
CD Read Speed 40X MAX CAV
DVD-R Write Speed 16X, 12X, 8X CLV
4X, 2X, 1X
DVD-RW Rewrite Speed 4X, 2X, 1X CLV
DVD+R Write Speed 16X, 12X, 8X ZCLV
4X, 2.4X
DVD+RW Rewrite Speed 4X, 2.4X CLV
DVD-RAM Read Speed 2X CLV
DVD Read Speed 16X MAX CAV
Supported Modes DAO / DAO-RAW 16 & 96
TAO
SAO / RAW SAO, RAW SAO 16 & 96
Packet Write
Multi-Session
Supported Formats DVD+R (DAO, incremental, seq)
DVD+RW (random)
DVD-R (DAO, incremental, seq)
DVD-RW (restricted overwrite)

CD-R, CD-RW, CD-ROM, CD-DA,
Mixed Mode, CD Extra
Photo CD, CD Text, Bootable CD, UDF
Access Time CD: 130ms
DVD: 140ms
Buffer 2MB

From the chipset information, this is by far the most ambitious drive that we have seen to date. We see identical features surface on a few other drives, including the NEC 3500A and the ASUS DRW-1604P, but we will get more into detail about those drives later.

The DVR-108D has the capabilities to write to DVD+R DL media at up to 4x and read it back at up to 8x speeds.




Burn Tests CDR Media

We use the following configuration to test our burners:

Albatron 865PE Pro II
Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz 800FSB
2 x 512 DDR OCZ PC3200 EL
Maxtor 80GB 7200RPM 8MB PATA
Windows XP SP1

We are going to run this benchmark in the same manner in which we ran our Sony DRU-540A benchmarks. We first burn the media with the DVR-108D and then use Plextools v2.12 to test C1/C2/CU averages in a Plextor PX-712A. Good burns have low C1/C2 averages and are considered to be the most readable. We used Ahead Nero's CD-DVD Speed 3.12 for burn and read tests. We will also provide images of the PX-712A for reference (which we have retested with better firmware and media). The images below are Pioneer DVR-108D images and in some cases, hover over the image to see the PX-712A images.

Fujifilm CDR




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Neither drive has any particular trouble writing to this disc. Below, we took the disc that we just created and read it back in PlexTools and CDSpeed.




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Although there are significant C1 errors, there are no C2 or unreadable sectors, and this burn is considered just perfect.

Imation CDR


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Hold your mouse over for the PX-712A image.


Like Fujifilm, Imation media is one of the higher quality brands of media, which performed just as well - at least on the burn.




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Unfortunately, this burn did not go as well as some of the others. The disc is readable, but we probably will run into trouble if the quality gets much worse. On the Plextor, the burn failed a little after the 70min marker.




Burn Tests CDR Media (cont'd)

Memorex CDR




Hold your mouse over for the PX-712A image.


We see the most C1 and C2 errors in this analysis, particularly near the end. Note that both the Pioneer and the Plextor drives have difficulty reading back the discs that they burned near the end; the flaw seems to be in the media and not the drive.




Burn Tests DVD+R Media

We have a number of different brands of DVD+R media ranging in quality.

CMC MAG F01

This is an Imation disc rated at 4x write speeds.



Hold your mouse over for the PX-712A image.


Reading the Pioneer burned disc in the Plextor shows that there was a slight glitch at the end of the write, but nothing too serious. The Plextor, on the other hand, had some trouble at the end of the burn.




Burn Tests DVD+R Media (cont.)

Ritek R03

Here's another 8x disc - this one by Ritek.



Hold your mouse over for the PX-712A image.


Even though our DVR-108D had trouble reading the disc back in the same drive, everything seems copasetic in the PX-712A.




Burn Tests DVD-R Media

CMC MAG AF1




Hold your mouse over for the PX-712A image.


There was a noticeable increase in C1 errors after the 2GB mark as Plextools read this media, but still not enough to interfere with successfully reading the content.




Burn Tests DVD RAM/DL Media

MKM DVDR+9



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Surprisingly, the Pioneer wrote to the MKM +R9 media at a constant 4x at each layer, even though it was rated at 2.4x.




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The read back on the Plextor drive shows a perfect burn at both layers.

Ritek DVD+R9




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The Pioneer drive seemed to perform fine on the Ritek brand +R9 media, but when trying to read it back, it ran into a problem with the second layer. We retried reading the disc twice to no avail.


Even the Plextor could not read the second layer.




Burn Tests DVD+/-RW Media

At test time, we had only Ritek media to benchmark RW capabilities on the DVR-108D. Take a look at how it performed on these media.

Ritek 004 - DVD+RW




Hold your mouse over for the PX-712A image.





Read Tests - Printed Media

Lower seek times are better.

Seek Times - Pressed CD 74:40.02
Drive Random Full
AOpen DDW8800 122ms 188ms
ASUS DRW-0802P 127ms 296ms
Gigabyte GO-W0808A 116ms 232ms
LG GSA-4120B 125ms 242ms
MSI DR12-A 84ms 153ms
Nu Tech DDW-082 113ms 160ms
Pioneer DVR-108D 130ms 355ms
Plextor PX-712A 112ms 165ms
Sony DRU-530A 86ms 155ms
Sony DRU-700A 119ms 245ms
Toshiba SD-R5272 110ms 169ms

Seek Times - DVD 4.38GB
Drive Random Full
AOpen DDW8800 114ms 272ms
ASUS DRW-0802P 130ms 312ms
Gigabyte GO-W0808A 102ms 194ms
LG GSA-4120B 94ms 195ms
MSI DR12-A 106ms 224ms
Nu Tech DDW-082 99ms 171ms
Pioneer DVR-108D 136ms 345ms
Plextor 712A 107ms 259ms
Sony DRU-530A 129ms 204ms
Sony DRU-700A 121ms 231ms
Toshiba SD-R5272 97ms 180ms

Read - Pressed CD
Drive Average Read Length
AOpen DDW8800 31.35X 19:57.7
ASUS DRW-0802P 30.89X 19:57.7
Gigabyte GO-W0808A 30.12X 19:57.7
LG GSA-4120B 32.50X 19:57.7
MSI DR12-A 31.81X 19:57.7
Nu Tech DDW-082 33.22X 19:57.7
Pioneer DVR-108D 31.74X 19:57.7
Plextor 712A 33.25X 19:57.7
Sony DRU-530A 31.80X 19:57.7
Sony DRU-700A 31.06X 19:57.7
Toshiba SD-R5272 31.22X 19:57.7

Read - DVDR
Drive Average Read Length
AOpen DDW8800 3.75X 4.38GB
ASUS DRW-0802P 6.27X 4.38GB
Gigabyte GO-W0808A 6.16X 4.38GB
LG GSA-4120B 7.58X 4.38GB
MSI DR12-A 8.22X 4.38GB
Pioneer DVR-108D 9.38X 4.38GB
Nu Tech DDW-082 6.53X 4.38GB
Plextor 712A 6.21X 4.38GB
Sony DRU-530A 5.79X 4.38GB
Sony DRU-700A 6.20X 4.38GB
Toshiba SD-R5272 6.61X 4.38GB

Read - Pressed DVD Video
Drive Average Read Length
AOpen DDW8800 3.44X 7.88GB
ASUS DRW-0802P 6.34X 7.88GB
Gigabyte GO-W0808A 6.31X 7.88GB
LG GSA-4120B 6.88X 7.88GB
MSI DR12-A 6.84X 7.88GB
Nu Tech DDW-082 4.30X 7.88GB
Pioneer DVR-108D 5.40X 7.88GB
Plextor 712A 6.18X 7.88GB
Sony DRU-530A 6.45X 7.88GB
Sony DRU-700A 5.88X 7.88GB
Toshiba SD-R5272 6.44X 7.88GB




Final Thoughts

Without a doubt, this is the best DVD Recorder that we have tested to date. We are looking forward to catching a glimpse of some of the BenQ and NEC solutions in the upcoming weeks, but until we can obtain samples, we have to claim the Pioneer DVR-108D as our recommendation for best DVD recorder. The nearly identical NEC 3500A specifications excite us, and we are anticipating looking at the drive later this month. Particularly, the drive may have promise for those interested in bit setting capabilities (which are not supported in the DVR-108D).

When compared to our reigning DVD recording champ - the Plextor PX-712A - the choice becomes even simpler. While we have enjoyed many months of Plextor's service as a standard against which to measure our other drives, the DVR-108D outperforms the PX-712A in every test that we have. Considering the additional features like dual layer and DVD-RAM, we really find it difficult to find a fault with the drive. And just to make everything all the sweeter, the Pioneer drive retails well under $100 on our RealTime Price Engine.

We look forward to testing our Pioneer DVR-108D with more 16X media as it becomes available, but until then, the drive can remain our number one 12X DVD burner - even if it is marketed as a 16X unit.

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