Sony DRU-700A, Lite-On SOHW-832S, Gigabyte GO-W0808A DVD drives

A couple of new fast DVD burners made their way through the PC World Test Centre this month.

A couple of new fast DVD burners made their way through the PC World Test Centre this month. First up is the $348, 8X, dual-layer Lite-On SOHW-832S, only the second dual-layer burner we’ve seen since Sony sent us the DRU-700A, reviewed in the July 2004 issue. Capable of writing to double-layer DVD+R DL discs, the SOHW-832S is a jack-of-most-trades when it comes to DVD burning (although it doesn’t write to DVD-RAM) and is well supported by firmware updates and other software utilities from Lite-On’s website. One example is Lite-On’s BookType software utility, which can be used to change the method of recording on DVD+R discs from DVD+R to DVD-ROM. This is beneficial if your set-top DVD player does not read DVD+R media. This utility will also work with DVD+RW and DVD+R DL discs.

The drive’s shallow depth makes it easy to install and well-suited to small form factor PCs. It has a 2MB buffer and buffer under-run protection, and is relatively loud when in full flight. It ships with Ahead’s Nero Express burning software and NeroVision Express 2 for authoring DVD movies.

This drive’s times were remarkably similar to those of the Sony DRU-700A in all tests, but was superior in DVD+RW writing and DVD-RW formatting. The drive correctly recognised our Verbatim 8x DVD+R and Taiyo Yuden 8x DVD-R media and wrote to both at this speed, but would not properly detect our Verbatim 8x DVD-R media until we updated the firmware to version VS04. We did this painlessly through the Windows environment.

We used DVD Decrypter to write an ISO image of The Matrix onto the supplied DVD+R DL sample media, which took around 44 minutes. The resulting disc was playable in DVD-ROM drives, other double-layer DVD burners and our Sony set-top DVD player, but not in non- double-layer DVD burners or the Toshiba SD-1300 set-top DVD player.

This drive, along with the Sony, represents the forefront of double-layer DVD burners and is a great drive for the early adopter who wants to enter double-layer DVD burning.

The second drive tested this month won’t burn dual-layer discs (despite the rather misleading ‘DVD Dual’ title on the packaging). The Gigabyte GO-W0808A shipped with Sonic RecordNow and Sonic DLA burning software, rather than the increasingly common Nero Express and InCD. When burning to DVD-RW and DVD+RW discs with the Sonic DLA packet writing software, the Mt Rainier writing method is used. This means that RW discs have to be made compatible by the software before they can be read in other drives.

This model can burn to DVD-R and DVD+R media at 8x and record to regular CDs at 40x. It has a 2MB buffer, along with buffer under-run protection, and we had no problems writing at the fastest speeds the drive can handle.

It is rather loud though, and it was not as inconspicuous as other drives during testing, especially when operating at high speeds. The drive looks good with its white front panel, and its shallow depth makes it a good choice if you are building a small form factor PC.

This drive was solid in all tests, and had some of the fastest overall read times of recently tested drives. In the writing tests it was very reliable, produced solid scores and correctly detected our Verbatim DVD-R and DVD+R and Taiyo Yuden media at 8x.

The Gigabyte is a very good performer and, at only $179, is well worth consideration.

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Elias Plastiras

Elias Plastiras

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