Sony has a track record for switching chipsets as they move along from model to model. The DRU-540A used the same Sanyo chipset that is used in the PX-712A. Upon entering the 16x game, Sony switched to MediaTek as its supplier for the servo controller and analog signal processor for the DRU-710A/720A units. Now, Sony has changed their chipset to that used in BenQ’s DW1640 as well as Plextor’s PX-740A.

This may turn out to be a good thing, since the DW1640 and PX-740A drives performed very well in all areas. But we all know that the performance of a drive depends on not only its hardware, but also its firmware. The DRU-810A comes with the 1.0a firmware, which is also the latest and the one that we used in our testing.

Click to enlarge.

Past Sony drives have not done so well with our line of test media. The DRU-710A had been burning DVD+R double layer coasters during our Fall 2004 16x DVD roundup, and in our Summer 16x DVD roundup, the DRU-720A performed better than the DRU-710A, but not well enough to earn it a Top 3 spot on our list.

With this new chipset, we see good things for the DRU-810A. Enough of this jabber - on to the benchmarks…

Special thanks to Marken Communications for supplying us with Verbatim brand test media.
Special thanks to Antarra Communications for supplying us with Ridata brand test media.

Sony’s DRU-810A
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  • unclebud - Wednesday, November 2, 2005 - link

    i was gonna say that. bought an open box yeaterday for $89. and also if benq is only $40, does it come with any software? what about paying for shipping? this version of nero (sony's) has more features than either the mad dog (nec) or microadvantage (aopen) drives i have bought this year, ie: showtime actually plays dvds and recode is included. plus it seems to work with the hp 300i in the other bay as well... full versions of nero cost $50+. i can't stand sony myself, but as long as i can get a year out of this drive i am good -- the gdr-8160 that it replaces gave out after at least three years of ripping/watching bliss
  • unclebud - Thursday, November 3, 2005 - link

    i was wrong, the hp 300i is excluded form burning with this version of nero :(
    this is the same exact thing they did with b recorder gold (?)

    and why do REVIEWERS ALWAYS leave this IMPORTANT detail out???
    oh so, people are just gonna shop hot deals and only have one rewriter in each computer?
    a dvd-rom costs $20! but a dvd burner costs $40 and DOES BOTH.

    sony is just as cheap and stanky as ever :( (i also own a dre infested ps2)
    back to the drawing board...

    thanks for some of the review?
  • drewdc - Wednesday, November 2, 2005 - link

    The review contains a couple of errors/omissions:

    1. In the MKM 01RD30 (DVD-R Dual Layer) graphs, the Sony drive and some of the other drives are missing.

    2. Also, the CD-R section of the review has a broken link to the first graph -- It says "Click to enlarge" but there is no image to click on. The graph (Nero CD Speed CD-R write speed vs. time) is in the">supplemental zip file, though.

    My comments on this drive vs. its virtual twin, the BenQ DW1640:

    As I see it, the only major reason to buy the Sony over the BenQ is the software bundle. The Sony includes Nero Burning ROM SE (version 6), which has more functionality than the feature-reduced Nero Express that comes with the BenQ and most other burners. I'll admit that the average user probably would be satisfied with Nero Express, but if you're a power user who doesn't already own a full-featured burning program, you might want to consider the Sony.

    The retail BenQ comes with QSuite, which has a bunch of tools that are useful in their own right, but in my opinion Sony comes out ahead on software.

    The Sony's blue-accented white front panel and black replacement bezel may sway those who care a lot about aesthetics. However, if you're just looking for a drive that matches your dark case, you can just get the black-faced BenQ.

    Another thing to consider is that Sony is offering a">$20 mail-in rebate on this drive through the end of the year, and that combined with other discounts may bring the drive closer in value to the BenQ. For example, this week the Best Buy in my area is advertising it for $100 with a $30 store MIR in addition to the $20 manufacturer's rebate, so it's $50 after rebates. That is quite competitive with the BenQ, especially after considering the software differences.
  • Prahs - Sunday, October 30, 2005 - link

    From the article:

    "Now, Sony has changed their chipset to that used in BenQ’s DW1640 as well as Plextor’s PX-740A."

    Thats interesting.

    "But we all know that the performance of a drive depends on not only its hardware, but also its firmware. The DRU-810A comes with the 1.0a firmware, which is also the latest and the one that we used in our testing."

    Ok, so you used the BenQ 1640 and Plextor PX-740A as the benchmark so what firmware versions were they?

    "Sony has switched chipset manufacturers, yet again; this time, using not only the Philips Nexperia chipset with the PNX7860E recording engine and TZA1047HL analog pre-processor, which we found in the BenQ DW1640A as well as the Plextor PX-740A, but also the exact same circuit layout."

    Exact same circuit layout. So how about exact same firmware for the test? If you examine the BenQ 1640 firmware, from the BSJB release on, you can see that they reference the SONY DVD RW DRU-810A.
  • mindless1 - Saturday, October 29, 2005 - link

    Several references in the review to what Sony "did", but it brings up a big question:

    Did Sony actually do any of this, or did they merely slap their badge on yet another LiteOn drive as they have for years?
  • n7 - Friday, October 28, 2005 - link

    BenQ DW1640 is still the king :D

    Nothing beats it for price/performance.
  • vailr - Friday, October 28, 2005 - link

    Could the author add a brief explanation of what a "PI error" is?
    And why these aren't corrected before the burn occurs?
  • JarredWalton - Friday, October 28, 2005 - link

    PI = Parity Inner
    PO = Parity Outer

    Both errors can occur during the burn process. The data is fine beforehand, but sometimes the burn process has errors. PI errors are almost always correctable - the media format is made to handle such errors. PO errors occur when there are too many PI errors in one area. For music, it's still usually okay, but data CDs can be useless if they have many (any) PO errors.
  • Ian@CDRlabs - Friday, October 28, 2005 - link

    CD's don't have PO errors. They have C1 and C2 errors.
  • Questar - Friday, October 28, 2005 - link

    Another burner review.

    They're $30 items, do they need to be reviewed? Doesn't seem worth the effort.

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