The Office Letter
Blink Section - Product Reviews
From Volume 6, Number 26
(December 18, 2006)
Review: Sony DRU-830A DVD Burner Does It All
In the early days of CD recorders, vendors continually leapfrogged over each other to offer faster and faster drives. DVD speeds are increasing, albeit at a much slower rate. The latest evidence: Sony Electronics’ DRU-830A internal DVD Multi drive, which supports up to 18X recording on DVD +/- R media, an increase from the previous 16X upper limit we’ve typically seen.
As in previous DVD drive reviews, there are a lot of specs provided on the box of this 12th-generation drive: 8X DVD+/-R for dual/double-layer (8.5GB) media (that’s double the speed from the last Sony drive we reviewed, the DRU-800A), 18X DVD+/-R, 8X DVD+RW, 6X DVD-RW, 12X DVD-RAM, 48X CR-R and 32X CD-RW recording speeds. The bottom line: no matter what type of the DVD media (with the exception of HD-DVD and Blu-ray), this drive is prepared to handle it at top-notch speeds.
The internal drive includes a black face plate (though I could never figure out how to replace it -- the instructions didn’t seem to match the drive). Like the DRU-800A, the drive is one inch shorter than standard DVD drives, making it easier to fit into cases where cords and connectors compete for space.
The front panel is missing a headphone jack and volume control found on some competing DVD recordable drives. On the plus side, Sony continues to bundle the drive with a good collection of Nero “Essentials” software. Among the applications in the package: Nero Express 7 Essentials (for CD/DVD burning of data or audio disks), Nero PhotoSnap Essentials (for photo capture from your digital camera or scanner along with photo editing -- crop, annotate with text, etc.), Nero Home Essentials SE (for CD/DVD playback), Nero Vision 4 Essentials (to create slide shows), Nero Mediahome Essentials (for streaming media throughout your home network), and Nero Showtime 3 Essentials (to play back DVDs, including those in MPEG-4 format). InCD5 is also provided so you can write CDs and DVDs in real time (as if the DRU-830 were a hard drive).
In our tests, using both DVD+R and DVD-R media from Verbatim, it took roughly the same amount of time to burn a full disk (4.4GB): 5 minutes and 33 seconds. Add another 65 seconds for file caching and wrap-up for each media type that Nero (and similar recording software) requires. The media was marked as 16X, but the Nero Express 7 Essentials software burned it at the 18X speed.
Our 8.0 GB test bed took 7 minutes, 23 seconds to burn to a Verbatim DVD+R DL disk with 7.96 GB of data, which included formatting, burning the files, and closing the media.
We tried burning DVD+RW media at the 8X speed and DVD-RW at 6X, but we could only find 4X media commercially available, and Nero would not let us push the recording speed faster than the media’s rated speed.
We have complained in the past that Nero's time-remaining estimates are seriously flawed. While they’re better, they’re still unreliable.
Nero’s CD/DVD Speed Test suite was also used to test read and write speed. The DRU-830A lived up to its specs. For example, using DVD+R media, the drive wrote at 7.6X at the center of the media and 18.2X at the outer edge; average speed calculated by the Nero benchmark was 13.7X. Using DVD-R media provided similar results.
Verbatim kindly provided the media for our speed tests. We prefer using a name brand in these tests because the media is generally of higher quality than generic media. (The company also backs their media with a limited lifetime warranty.) We also loaded some no-name CD and DVD recordable media to see how it handled media of possibly lesser quality. It performed flawlessly on all the media we tried.
The DRU-830A dual-layer drive lists for $89.99, but you may be able to find it for as little as $75 online, and there’s a $20 rebate for purchases through January 6, 2007 (see http://www.sonystyle.com/intershoproot/eCS/Store/en/documents/rebates/06A30408.pdf for details). Sony backs the drive with a one-year warranty and provides toll-free customer and technical support (a rarity these days) Monday through Saturday, 8 AM until 8 PM Central Time. It's unlikely you'll need it; drive’s ATAPI connection and simple installation instructions are easy to follow; the software installed without any problem.
No matter what conventional DVD media you want to play or record, you can rest assured that the Sony DRU-830A can support it.
For more information, visit http://www.sony.com/dvdburners
-- James E. Powell
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