Final Words

We have taken these 16X dual layer capable burners and thrown various media at them to see how each unit burns and reads back. From our results, we can see that the Pioneer DVR-108D, LG GSA-4160B, and NEC's ND-3500A came out on top with their ability to burn any type of media almost flawlessly as well as burn 2.4X dual layer media at 4.0X speeds (DVR-108D & ND-3500A). Our graphical presentations show that these three drives have the best read and write performance as far as DVD+/-R/RW media goes, and also top the list in dual layer write performance. The ND-3500A does have the highest CD read and right speeds by a hair, with LG's GSA-4160B coming in at second resulting in read/write times of 32.80X/29.15X, respectively.

We were extremely disappointed to see that MSI's DR16-B and Sony's DRU-710A produced dual layer coasters, since we had expected these big names to put out exceptional products. We hope with future firmware updates, these manufacturers can resolve the issues so that their products can be more competitive in the 16X market. The 710A wrote to our 80min Fujifilm CDRs the quickest of the bunch at an average of 32.36X, and only came second to the NEC ND-3500A in DVD+R 16X writing tests with LiteOn's SOHW-1633S, but couldn't come close to the top of the list in any other area.

Various features set these 8 burners apart from each other as well as others that are being introduced into the market. One feature that we thought would make a world of difference is the ability to change the "Book Type" of a disc when writing to it. This bitsetting feature is implemented in 5 out of the 8 drives on the list. In particular, the feature in the ND-3500A helps bring the unit to the top of the list. If LG had implemented bitsetting into their GSA-4160B, it would have helped their product climb the ladder to compete with the NEC drive.

To NEC's ND-3500A for exceptional DVD+DL, DVD+/-R, CDR write speed and quality at a fair price.

Unlike CDRs, the DVDR world is plagued with the dual standards, which make it slightly difficult to maintain compatibility with standalone DVD players. For this reason, the bitsetting feature might come in handy more than the ability to read and write DVD-RAM media. This is what kept LG's unit from winning the #1 spot, which we have awarded to the NEC ND-3500A. Its read and write performance and quality as well as its inclusion of the bitsetting feature and high DL write speeds along with a price of $68, which is the lowest price of all 8 drives, puts the drive at the top of our list with the gold medal.

Surprisingly absent from this roundup were any representatives of Sanyo or Ricoh 16X drives. The Plextor PX-716A probably utilizes a Sanyo chipset, given their track record, but we could not obtain a sample in time for the roundup. Ricoh's extremely anticipated 16X core seems to have all but vanished, even from the drives that were supposed to ship with it - including the NuTech DDW-162 featured today. A late entrance from both chip makers does not bode well, but we look forward to featuring both in the next DVD recording roundup!

Special thanks to Newegg for supplying hardware for this comparison test.

Pricing
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  • Sabresiberian - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    #15 DL is important to me because I know the price of media will drop and I want the drive I buy to be as useful as possible for the longest time possible. I might be buying it today but I will be using it tomorrow :) Overall you make some good points :)

    I think this is a difficult time to do this kind of article, because other improved versions will be available before the end of the year. For example, the Plextor 716A will be released with SATA capabilities.

    I think its wierd that you couldn't get the Plextor drive in time, as I know this product has been reviewed by others.
    Reply
  • southernpac - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    A recent (17 August) article in PC World advised extreme caution when buying an OEM (versus retail) DVD burner. It said that OEM units "carry no manufacturer's warranty, lack burning software and are ineligible for firmware upgrades" (therefore costing more in the long run). Many examples were given. I would appreciate advise as to whether this is percieved to be a real concern. If so, NEC has no retail outlet - how would you buy a non-OEM unit? Reply
  • southernpac - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    A recent (August 17th) PC World article advised extreme caution when buying OEM vs. retail DVD burners. It claimed that OEM versions carry no manufacturer's warranty, lack software and are ineligible for firmware upgrades (therefore actually costing more in the long run). Many examples were given. I would appreciate some advise as to whether this is percieved to be a real risk. If so, NEC has no retail outlet - how would you buy a non-OEM unit? Bill Reply
  • Gatak - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    How about overburn tests? I have many times wanted to burn 50-100MB more than a standard single-layer disk but failed because my drive or software won't do it. Reply
  • Codyman - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    I'm kinda wondering if a PX716A couldn't get crammed into this test somehow. Been waiting for this review in hopes that it would've been in this test and I haven't been waiting the extra couple months for nothing. Reply
  • danidentity - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    I'd like to see a list of recommended media for different speed grades (4x, 8x, etc.) for different burners. Reply
  • techfuzz - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Why weren't the firmware on all the drives tested brought up to at the very least the most recent officially released version? For example, NEC's current official firmware is v2.17 where the v2.16 used in this roundup is the original firmware as-shipped from the factory?! Reply
  • Bozo Galora - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    firmwares are on www.cdrinfo.com Reply
  • ecouser - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Doesn’t Samsung make a Dual Layer DVD burner? If so why isn’t it in this roundup? Reply
  • MIDIman - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Yay! I'm a winner! I was waiting for this article, but couldn't wait long enough, and picked up the NEC two weeks ago. Couldn't be happier.

    Here's hoping for better Ritek 8x/16x support...
    Reply

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