by March 9, 2006 0 comments

The first time we did a DVD-Writer shootout way back in
2003, all the models that we received were in the 15K+ price range. Now, you can
buy an internal model for under 5K, and an external one at less than 10K.
Moreover, there’s a wide variety of formats available in DVD-drives. Plus,
their storage capacity has doubled from 4.2 to 8 GB with the introduction of
dual-layer disks. The buffer memory on the drives has remained at 2 MB for
almost all writers. Another advancement is greater bit-error correction rates.
The primary reason for buying a DVD-Writer today would be of course to backup
data, whether it’s organizational or personal. You don’t need very high-end
systems to install one either. We received eight DVD-Writers, which we tested on
a machine with P4 processor, 512 MB RAM, and Win XP SP2. The burning software we
used was Nero 6.6 for burning on to DVD +R/-R, and +R(DL) formats. For the RW
media tests, we used Nero’s InCD software. Plus, we used ‘Nero CD/DVD
Speed’ for testing read speeds, seek times and other

performance parameters.

A DVD writer can be used not only for burning DVDs of different formats, but
also for burning CDs and reading all optical media. While CDs can be both read
only and re-write, there are a quite a few formats available in DVDs. The range
of media further widens as each of these have write once and re-write formats.
For the purpose of clarity we categorized our tests broadly into ‘Writing
Tests’ and ‘Reading Tests.’

Time to burn for DVD+R at 8x  Time to burn for DVD+R (DL)2, 4x
Time to burn for DVD+RW burst copy TIme for DVD-RW burst copy

Writing tests 
The writing tests for both DVDs and CDs included writing data. In case of DVD
+/- R we tested for writing 4.5 GB from the hard drive and copying data from a
DVD. The DVD +/- RWs were tested for ‘Packet Writing’ of data, formatting
time and erasing time using Nero ‘InCD’ along with writing 4.5 GB data from
a hard drive. For the DVD +R(DL), we used the same tests as DVD +/-R. CD writing
tests included writing 650 MB of data from the hard drive, ‘.wav’ files of
73 minutes duration from hard drive, copying 650 MB data CD, and copying 73 min
audio CD. We used CD-Rs with 52x speed for this. For CD-RW we checked the
maximum throughput attained on the media by packet writing single file of 175 MB
on it.


All tests were done using Nero ‘CD/DVD Speed’. The suite comprised of
transfer rate, seek times, load-eject time and recognition time.

The tests were done on different

media for all writers, which included

CD-R, CD-RW, DVD +/-R, DVD +/-RW, DVD +R (DL).

We used the Brown-Gibson model for arriving at the results. This time, we
checked out the drives for their performance and pricing. Detailed test results
can be viewed at

Quick Specs
Price: Rs 2,900
Warranty: 1 year
Contact: Rashi Peripherals, Mumbai.
Tel: 28221013. 

Sony DRU-810A This Sony drive supports all
formats, has the highest R/W speed for them and comes at the least price. It
also appears as one of the most consistent performers amongst all drives. No
wonder it won the shootout hands down! Its performance ensured its presence in
the top three list in almost all tests. It was not in the top three only in
eject time test. It sealed off the first place owing to its price tag-the least
amongst all internal DVD writers. It is the best performer and comes at the
cheapest price. The drive recorded the best timing for writing onto dual layer
DVD from hard disk also. It burned 8.2 GB of data in about 18.14 minutes, much
lower than all other drives. It topped up CD writing as well as scored within
the top three range in most of the tests. The drive has the least CPU usage
amongst all others and was slightly behind the BenQ in average read speeds. It
bundles Nero BackItUp and Nero Suite. RQS# E90 or SMS 130390 to 9811800601

Quick Specs
Price: Rs 2,999
Warranty: 1 year
Contact: Gigabyte Technologies,Mumbai.
Tel: 26526696.

Gigabyte GO-W1623A-RH
This internal writer from Gigabyte was close on the heels to the winner. Here
again it was slightly more expensive than the Sony drive, and slightly less in
performance. But it won’t disappoint you with its performance either. It gave
the best timing while burning data on DVD +RW. It took the least amount of time
to format and do a burst copy for this format, namely


mins respectively. In the  CD tests, It managed burning data from the hard
drive in the least time of

mins. It was also the second best performer in the overall CD tests. It was the
best performer in read speeds for data and audio CDs giving  37.06x and
34.83x respectively. It comes with a MPEG-2 SVCD/ DVD plug-in, the Nero Suite
and Cyberlink Power DVD. It supports all optical media formats. RQS# E91 or SMS
130391 to 9811800601


Quick Specs
Price: Rs 3,450
Warranty: 1 year
Contact: AsusTek Computer, Mumbai.
Tel: 40058894.

ASUS DRW 1608 P2S An overall average
performer. In fact, its performance scores were lower than its other
cousin-the Asus 1608 P2. It did,  however,  perform better than
Samsung’s both internal as well as external drives. Part of the reason for its
low score was that it gave a few errors during the tests. For one, it failed
during the CPU utilization tests, and even gave errors for disk burnt by it when
we ran the speed tests on it. The drive gives an average read speed of 30.9x for
CDs and around 9.3x for DVDs. As for features it has the highest write speeds
for dual-layer disks amongst the lot. Another area where it is better than the
rest is the writing DVD-RW format. In write tests it was easily left behind by
others. The drive supports all the formats pretty much like most other
contenders. The s/w provided with the drive includes Nero Suite, and the Ulead
DVD Movie Factory 4.0. RQS# E92 or SMS 130392 to 9811800601

Quick Specs
Price: Rs 3,360
Warranty: 1 year
Contact: AsusTek Computer, Mumbai.
Tel: 40058894.

ASUS DRW 1608 P2 This
model from ASUS is also an average performer compared to other drives. It is
better in performance than ASUS 1608 P2S and comes at a slightly lower price.
This too lost ground on account of performance that is decent but not good
enough to

overpower the other contenders.

Much like P2S it has highest write speeds for dual layer
disks, but that did not boost its performance results. The drive did not report
any errors or problems during our tests unlike the P2S model. It did a good job
in burst copying CD-RW where it managed the highest score completing the task
only in

mins-the least time in this test. Other than this, the drive did not appear
amongst the top performers in any of the tests. However, it was able to beat P2S
in almost all the tests except eject time. Coming to read tests the drive could
not pull up any significantly high scores here and more or less followed the
same path as the other Asus model. The software that came bundled with the drive
includes Nero Suite and Ulead DVD Movie Factory 4.0 for DVD writing. Also
bundled with is ASUS firmware update program, that you should run before you use
the drive. RQS# E93 or SMS 130393 to 9811800601

Quick Specs
Price: Rs 4,500
Warranty: 1 year
Contact: BenQ India, Mumbai.
Tel: 1600220808.

BenQ DW 1650 This
drive is the best when it comes to reading data, but average in the remaining
performance tests. It is also the most expensive of the internal drives-a
factor that contributed heavily in brining down its score. The drive got highest
scores in read tests for read only and rewrite-able DVDs- 12.09x and 9.39x
respectively. It also aggregated the highest overall score in average read speed
tests. The drive managed second place in overall score for all read tests.
However, it could not keep up to the same in write tests. It managed to top in
writing data from the hard for re write-able DVD. It took only

mins. But overall in the write tests it failed to appear any better. This can
be attributed to the fact that the drive repeatedly gave ‘Incompatible
Media’ error while testing for rewrite-able CDs. The drive supports all media
formats, and came bundled with the BenQ QSuite, Nero OEM suite and LightScribe.
RQS# E95 or SMS 130395 to 9811800601

Quick Specs
Price: Rs 3,600
Warranty: 1 year
Contact: Samsung India, Delhi.
Tel: 51511234.

Samsung SH-W162 The
drive gave above average performance, and was the second highest in price. It
gave good results in writing on DVD-RW media. It scored the highest in it with a
time period of

mins when burning data from the hard drive. However, it could not catch up with
Sony or Gigabyte in other writing tests. It recorded ordinary scores in other
writing tests for both types of optical media. The only other exception to this
apart from rewrite-able tests was the CD-RW test for writing data from
hard-drive where it top notched again with a timing of

mins. The drive also gave a decent

result in load and recognition time tests where it had the
highest score for CDs-10:99 seconds. It stood third on an overall basis in
this category. It supports all formats and has speeds equal to the winner for
most formats, but still could not thrust a winning performance. The software
bundle includes the ‘Firmware Live Update’ like the external Samsung model
and the Nero Suite. RQS# E94 or SMS 130394 to 9811800601

Quick Specs
Price: Rs 7,900
Warranty: 1 year
Contact: Rashi Peripherals, Mumbai.
Tel: 28221013. 

Sony DRX-810UL This
external drive from Sony is almost as good a performer as Sony’s internal one.
It stood second only to Sony’s internal drive in overall performance.
Comparing with Samsung, the other external drive in our shootout, it excelled
comprehensively on overall scores. The drive supports all optical media formats.
It fared better than drives from all other vendors in overall optical media
tests, here again over shadowed only by its internal cousin. Other than the
price it was left behind in read speed and CPU utilization tests where it
recorded a very

average score. The drive comes with a both USB 2.0 and FireWire support. It has
in a classy external case. It is also capable of image capturing from video
recorders and camcorders. However, it requires the video capturing functions to
be present in your computer to do this. The software bundle

 includes the Nero Suite and Nero BackItUp. If you are specifically
looking for an external writer this drive is certainly a good choice over
Samsung’s external drive. RQS# E96 or SMS 130396 to 9811800601

Quick Specs
Price: Rs 9,500
Warranty: 1 year
Contact: Samsung India, Delhi.
Tel: 51511234.

Samsung SE-W164 This
drive performs fairly well in all tests. It stood second in writing tests for
DVD+RW format, recording


mins for burning data from hard drive and burst copy respectively. The drive
was also good in tests for CD recording

mins-the least time for disk copying and stood third overall. The drive
recorded the least time for DVD-RW erasing-

mins. The formats supported range is complete, supporting all optical media
formats available in the Indian market. In comparison with Sony’s external
drive in our shootout it fared equally well in overall scores for writing tests.
However, it could not keep up as the latter over shadowed it in overall scores
for average read speed, CPU utilization and overall read tests. Added to this is
the higher price tag that the drive carries in comparison to Sony’s drive.
When it comes to features the drive comes up with a good one-the ‘Firmware
Live Update’program to update your drives firmware

online. RQS# E97 or SMS 130397 to 9811800601

Anadi Misra

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