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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  • Maverick215 - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    1) where are the 8x disc quality tests, it seems you only did -r, 16x, and DL
    2) who cares about DL at $10 a disc I have to quote you, "read/write capabilities are not really useful in applications for the common end user."
    3) who cares about 16x
    a)it's not readily available
    b) will likely be more expensive when it is
    c) no realized speed improvement (your review states 11.9x max for 16x and 11.88 max for 8x media @ 12x (again we don't know the burn quality of this 8x@12 burn but you gave the result)
    given these I'd have to say "read/write capabilities are not really useful in applications for the common end user." again.
    ----
    And to just take one drive here, the benq, you used a BETA firmware, it might be fair if you used a BETA of a upcoming release, but you used a BETA that is 3 public releases and atleast 5 weeks old. you consider NEC more mature, why not give Benq etc a chance to mature? At the very least you could say all burners were updated as of xyz date, at least we would have a reference point. And we could then understand that infact you started doing this comparison 5 weeks ago.
    ----
    That minor point aside. If you really care what is applicable to the "common end user" then why not more 8x media with the price of said media and then that media's burn quality tests(16x has a use here in comparing burn quality). 8x is what's most readily available, 8x@12x is comparable burn speed to 16x.
    Sorry but this review just leaves me with an empty feeling. Perhaps I am alone in my opinion, but I can live with that.
    Reply
  • Reflex - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Nice to know I made the right choice a month and a half ago when I grabbed the 3500A. It wasn't anything more than me looking for a bargain for a Media Center PC, so I just lucked into the best drive it appears.

    BTW, where do you find the latest firmware for this stuff? And are there any good reccomendations on softare, seeing as OEM drives don't come with it usually...
    Reply
  • AkumaX - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    don't really care about speed, but which burner has the best COMPATIBILITY and RELIABILITY in terms of burning? the 108D or the 3500A or something else? Reply
  • mkruer - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    So I take it DVD+R/RW won the format wars. BTW that would be a good article in itself. Why IS there a difference between the two formats (that’s -R vs +R) Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Most of the drives we reviewed are the OEM versions - they pretty much all look identical (flat, beige/black, one button).

    Kristopher
    Reply
  • PuravSanghani - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    OCedHrt: Errors have been fixed for your viewing pleasure :) Reply
  • Operandi - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    xsilver: If the drive is a re-badge then just say so in the artical, I don't think a picture is required.

    My point is simply that if your going get pics of the drives you should be taking pics of the portion people will be looking at. Other pics are fine but not geing bezel shoots dosn't make any sense to me.
    Reply
  • OCedHrt - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Hmm dunno how to edit. The CD-R write speed for the Pioneer between the graph and the table at the end is also different. Reply
  • OCedHrt - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    The description for the Ritek G05 read test doesn't match the graph at all. One of them is wrong. Reply
  • xsilver - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    I think the circuit pcb thing is a good idea -- some drives a just rebadges of other drives? (asus?) so to tell you look that the pcb / insides Reply

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