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DVD+RW Drives Roundup

February 28, 2002



Ricoh MP5120A and HP dvd100i



CD-RW drives are widely used as a storage means, but some may feel that standard 700 MBytes are not enough any more. There are magnetooptical devices, however they are not so efficient in recording and so convenient in use as CD-RW drives. Besides, they are not so popular that you can feel free carrying such discs from one place to another.

The DVD technology provides much more space on a disc and quite easy to use; and such drives are quite speedy and inexpensive. Today an average DVD drive is just a little more dearer than the most expensive CD-ROM devices. Besides, more and more software and game developers write their programs on DVD discs. However, there is one problem on the way of its popularization: lack of a single standard. At present there are three incompatible formats of recording and storage of data on DVD discs: DVD-RAM, DVD-RW and DVD+RW. DVD-RAM is offered by Matsushita, and discs recorded in this format can't be read on a DVD-ROM drive. The DVD-RW developed by Pioneer is the most popular recording standard. DVD-R and DVD-RW are not expensive. Besides, for production of DVD-R media it is enough to modernize a CD-R production line. The DVD-R and DVD-RW formats are approved by the DVD Forum.

The DVD+RW is the youngest format which lacks for many drawbacks of the DVD-RW but it's still not widespread among disc makers. Besides, DVD+R discs were announced just a little ago and it's hard to forecast their prices and availability for the near future.

The best advantage of DVD+R/RW discs is that they are compatible with most of consumer DVD players and DVD-ROM drives. (According to IDC, there are 35 million such devices). Besides, DVD+RW suits excellently both storage of data and recording of video which is very important for bringing together PCs and home equipment.

The DVD+RW Alliance consists of companies (HP, MCC/Verbatim, Ricoh, Philips, Sony, Thomson Multimedia, and Yamaha. Promised support from Ahead, BHA, Dazzle Digital Video Products, DELL Computers, Funai, GEAR Software, LG Electronics, MedioStream Inc., MGI, NEC, NewTech Infosystems Inc., Pinnacle Systems, Quantized Systems, Ravisent Technologies Inc., Roxio Inc., Software Architects Inc., Sonic Solutions, Spruce Technologies Inc., Toolex International N.V., Ulead Systems Inc., Veritas Software Corporation, VITEC Multimedia, Inc., and Zapex Technologies Inc.) which are leaders on the CD-R/CD-RW market, they have a great experience and know well needs of consumers in the sphere of recordable and rewritable digital media.

Basic technical parameters of the DVD+RW:

  • One-side 4.7 GBytes disc
  • Only discs - no cartridges
  • 650 nm laser (aperture 0.65)
  • Constant linear density of data
  • CLV recording technology (high-quality thanks to constant linear velocity) and CAV (fast access to a required fragment thanks to a constant angular velocity)
  • Write speed from 1x (home video recorder) to 2.4x (PC drive)
  • DVD video data flow
  • Quick formatting (allows immediate usage of blank discs)
  • Defective zones on a disc are controlled by the drive
  • 8-16 modulation and RS code - the same as in DVD-ROM
  • Recording
    • Consecutive and selective recording
    • ERCO units of 32 KBytes
    • Blending without losses (data do not get lost during recording and get recorded in the form they are initially written in)

  • Address information:
    • Spiral groove with radial modulation (32T period)
    • Phase-modulated addresses
    • 4 addresses for each 32 KBytes ECC unit

Ricoh MP5120

HP dvd100i

Test results

For comparison in reading operations we used the TEAC 540ECD-ROM and ASUSTeK E616 DVD-ROM drives.

CDWinBench 99 CD-ROM Transfer Rate


The DVD+RW have average results in the data rate tests. For reading CD-ROM media it's better to use a CD drive. A solid breakthrough of the DVD-ROM ASUS in the external data transfer speed comes from the UltraDMA 100 support (ATA100).

CPU utilization in the CD-ROM Transfer Rate test:

Despite the ATA100 support the ASUS has the biggest CPU utilization in data transfer. The DVD+RW devices have a moderate CPU load comparable to the TEAC CD-540E.

CDWinBench 99 CD-ROM Access Time

A random access speed is similar for all drives, except the losing HP model.

CDWinBench 99 CPU Utilization

The overall CPU utilization of the E616 is minimal in data transfer. The DVD+RW drives showed similar results.

CD recording time

For comparison we chose two popular 12x models - TEAC CD-W512 and NEC NR-7700.

Recording of the Sony CDQ-74N1 CD-R (cyanine, 16x rated speed), 12x recording speed

CD-RW/DVD+RW drive Time (min.)
TEAC CD-W512EB 8.19
NEC NR-7700 7.49
HP dvd100i 7.33
Ricoh MP5120A 7.02

The Ricoh MP5120A outscores the other by almost a minute in CD-R recording. The HP dvd100i outdoes the W512EB and the NR-7700.

Recording of the Mirex CD-R (phthalocyanine, 12x rated speed),
12x

CD-RW/DVD+RW drive Time (min.)
TEAC CD-W512EB 7.38
NEC NR-7700 7.46
HP dvd100i 7.26
Ricoh MP5120A 7.08

Recording of a phthalocyanine CD-R is not so beneficial as compared with cyanine discs. Nevertheless, the latest DVD+RW devices win half a minute from their predecessors.

Recording of the "noname" CD-R (cyanine, the rated record speed is unknown), 4x

CD-RW/DVD+RW drive Time (min.)
TEAC CD-W512EB 20.52
NEC NR-7700 20.35
HP dvd100i 20.12
Ricoh MP5120A 19.09

The Ricoh has the best results in recording CD-R discs of any types. The TEAC CD-W512EB wrote the noname discs almost two minutes longer.

DVD+RW disc recording
2.4x recording speed (3312 KBytes/sec)

For performance comparison in speed of recording of DVD+RW discs we used the Nero Burning ROM program and a disc image consisting of 7 images of test 4.5 GBytes CD-Rs.

DVD+RW drive Time (min.)
HP dvd100i 22.28
Ricoh MP5120A 22.16

Taking into account that modern recorders write 650 MBytes discs at 5 minutes on average, 22 minutes for 4.5 GBytes is quite a good result.

Time of full formatting of a CD-RW disc in UDF format

Philips CD-RW 4x

DVD+RW drive Time (min.)
HP dvd100i 24.56
Ricoh MP5120A 24.42

Ricoh CD-RW 10x

DVD+RW drive Time (min.)
HP dvd100i 13.08
Ricoh MP5120A 12.14

The Ricoh is not much faster than the HP drive.

DVD+RW disc formatting

DVD+RW drive Quick Full
HP dvd100i 1.12 11.54
Ricoh MP5120A 1.08 11.49

Well, it's quite convenient to start working with a 4.7 GBytes after just a minute of formatting.

Recording of a CD-RW disc (UDF)

Philips CD-RW 4x

DVD+RW drive Time (min.)
HP dvd100i 18.28
Ricoh MP5120A 18.06

CD-RW Ricoh 10x

DVD+RW drive Time (min.)
HP dvd100i 7.16
Ricoh MP5120A 7.32

Undoubtedly, if you replace your CD-RW drive for a DVD+RW one you won't be disappointed in its speed of rewriting.

Recording of a DVD+RW disc (UDF)

DVD+RW drive Time (min.)
HP dvd100i 20.42
Ricoh MP5120A 20.38

BLER factor of recorded CD-R discs

CD-R disc, recording speed Mirex, 12x Sony
CDQ-74N1, 12x
"noname", 4x
HP dvd100i 2-6 35-43 410-500
Ricoh MP5120A 3-6 32-45 400-490

(for these tests we used a device described in the fifth part of our review)

Here are the results obtained on the CDCATS SA3 test station provided by The Urals Electronic Plant.

Mirex, 12x "noname", 4x Sony CDQ-N1, 12x
Ricoh MP5120A
HP dvd100i

Both DVD recorders have high results in quality of disc recording which is a compensation for their not high speeds of CD-R recording.

Nero CDSpeed

The comparable ASUSTeK E616 DVD-ROM drive was used in the Nero CDSpeed with discs recorded on the Plextor 124Tsi CD-RW drive.

Graph of reading of the TDK Sony CDQ-74N1 CD-R (12x writing speed)

CD-RW drive Graph of reading
Ricoh MP5120A
HP dvd100i
ASUSTeK
DVD-ROM E616

Graph of reading of the Mirex CD-R (12x writing speed)

CD-RW drive Graph of reading
Ricoh MP5120A
HP dvd100i
ASUSTeK
DVD-ROM E616

Graph of reading of the "noname" CD-R (4x writing speed)

CD-RW drive Graph of reading
Ricoh MP5120A
HP dvd100i
ASUSTeK
DVD-ROM E616

Both drives read all types of media quite confidently.

Graph of reading of the Rostok Media 780 MBytes CD-R (90 min)

Ricoh MP5120A
HP dvd100i

Both HP and Ricoh read 90min. discs without any problems.

Nero DVDSpeed

Graph of reading of the one-side 4 GBytes DVD-ROM (video)

DVD+RW drive Graph of reading
Ricoh MP5120A
HP dvd100i
ASUSTeK
DVD-ROM E616

Graph of reading of the double-side 9 GBytes DVD-ROM (video record of the Scorpions' "Moment of Glory" concert)

DVD+RW drive Graph of reading
Ricoh MP5120A
HP dvd100i
ASUSTeK
DVD-ROM E616

Graph of reading of the recorded test 4.5 GBytes DVD+RW

DVD+RW drive Graph of reading
Ricoh MP5120A
HP dvd100i
ASUSTeK
DVD-ROM E616

Only HP and ASUS were able to finish the tests well. The Ricoh had a lot of different problems, it stumbled and refused to proceed. I'm inclined to think that its firmware version has some real flaws.

Test results of the recorded Sony CDQ-74N1 CD-Rs (12x)

Ricoh
MP5120A
HP dvd100i ASUSTeK
DVD E616
Average 23.84x 23.77x 35.87x
Random Seek 108 ms 117 ms 88 ms
SpinUp Time 1.31 sec 1.38 sec 3.42sec
SpinDown Time 2.81 sec 2.68 sec 6.81 sec
Disc Eject Time 2.09 sec 2.21 sec 1.80 sec
Disc Load Time 6.71 sec 6.73 sec 1.34 sec
Disc Recognition Time 0.03 sec 0.06 sec 8.87 sec

Test results of the recorded Mirex CD-R (12x)

Ricoh
MP5120A
HP dvd100i ASUSTeK
DVD E616
Average 23.87x 23.94x 35.83x
Random Seek 104 ms 115 ms 88 ms
SpinUp Time 1.30 sec 1.41 sec 3.44 sec
SpinDown Time 2.81 sec 2.66 sec 6.78 sec
Disc Eject Time 2.10 sec 2.19 sec 1.82 sec
Disc Load Time 6.73 sec 6.84 sec 1.34 sec
Disc Recognition Time 0.03 sec 0.05 sec 8.64 sec

CDSpeed Test results of the recorded "noname" CD-R

Ricoh
MP5120A
HP dvd100i ASUSTeK
DVD E616
Average 24.57x 23.91x 37.57x
Random Seek 111 ms 116 ms 89 ms
SpinUp Time 1.29 sec 1.42 sec 3.45 sec
SpinDown Time 2.85 sec 2.65 sec 6.81 sec
Disc Eject Time 2.09 sec 2.26 sec 1.82 sec
Disc Load Time 6.69 sec 6.81 sec 1.34 sec
Disc Recognition Time 0.02 sec 0.06 sec 10.66 sec

The Ricoh MP5120A and HP dvd100i showed good results for 32x CD-ROM drives, but the only disadvantage is their access time: 110-115 ms is not acceptable today.

Test results of the one-side 4 GBytes DVD-ROM (video)

Ricoh
MP5120A
HP dvd100i ASUSTeK
DVD E616
Average n/a 4.77x 5.72x
Random Seek n/a 149 ms 141 ms
CPU usage
(MAX Speed)
n/a 19% 34%

Test results of the double-side 9 GBytes DVD-ROM (video record of the Scorpions' "Moment of Glory" concert)

Ricoh
MP5120A
HP dvd100i ASUSTeK
DVD E616
Average n/a 5.52x 6.03x
Random Seek n/a 162 ms 156 ms
CPU usage
(MAX Speed)
n/a 18% 32%

Test results of the recorded test 4.5 GBytes DVD+RW

Ricoh
MP5120A
HP dvd100i ASUSTeK
DVD E616
Average n/a 4.82x 6.12x
Random Seek n/a 144 ms 140 ms
CPU usage
(MAX Speed)
n/a 21% 35%

A speed of reading of DVD discs is higher for the ASUS DVD-ROM drive, but not much. But its CPU load is almost twice higher than that of the dvd100i.

CDSpeed test results of the recorded CD-RW discs

CD-RW UDF (4x) CD-RW UDF (10x) CD-RW ISO (4x)
Ricoh MP5120A 16.79x 16.67x 20.31x
HP dvd100i 17.02x 17.12x 20.08x
ASUSTeK DVD E616 30.48x 30.42x 35.15x
TEAC CD-W524E 28.64x 28.88x 30.78x
Yamaha CRW3200E 29.05x 29.04x 30.83x

The DVD+RW recorders read this type of media not too bad for CD-ROM drives. But if you often read rewritten discs you should take an additional high-speed DVD-ROM or CD-ROM/RW drive.

Compatibility test

In this test we used two models of DVD players we were able to fetch. They were to read the DVD+RW discs with the recorded video movie. The DVD-ROM drives were also to recognize data recorded on the DVD+RW disc.

DVD-ROM drive Reading of DVD+RW
ASUSTeK E616 Yes
NEC DV-5800 Yes
Sony DDU1621 Yes
Pioneer DVD-500M Yes
DVD-Player Reading of DVD+RW
Marantz DV-17 No
Sony DVP-NS900V Yes

The DVD-ROM drives read the DVD+RW discs excellently, while the DVD players have some problems. It is interesting that the Sony's DVD DVP-NS700V and DVP-NS900V players support reading of DVD-R and DVD+RW media, and their follower - S-9000ES is able to read only DVD+RW. Why? It's no secret that Sony has already announced its DVD+RW drive which is able to record both DVD-R and DVD+RW media. By the way, it's not very difficult to provide support for recording of discs of the competing standards. Marketing: here is the major problem.

CD-ROM Drive Analyzer

Graph of reading of the recorded Sony CDQ-74N1 CD-R (12x)

Ricoh MP5120A
HP dvd100i

Graph of reading of the recorded Mirex CD-R (12x)

Ricoh MP5120A
HP dvd100i

Graph of reading of the recorded "noname" CD-R (4x)

Ricoh MP5120A
HP dvd100i

Both drives read excellently all types of data.

Sound track extraction from audio CDs (CDDAE 99)

For comparison of quality and speed we are showing data also for TEAC CD-W524E and Yamaha CRW3200E-VK CD-RW drives as they are the most popular for today and have the highest results in sampling of audio data.

Ricoh MP5120A

Piano Favorites Acoustic Planet vol.2 Bloodhound Gang "Greatest Hits"
Average extraction speed 16.3x 12.2x 22.5x
Total errors 8.12% 14.86% 0.00%

HP dvd100i

Piano Favorites Acoustic Planet vol.2 Bloodhound Gang "Greatest Hits"
Average extraction speed 15.8x 13.6x 20.4x
Total errors 7.37% 15.12% 0.00%

ASUSTeK DVD E616

Piano Favorites Acoustic Planet vol.2 Bloodhound Gang "Greatest Hits"
Average extraction speed 18.8x 11.2x 23.6x
Total errors 1.28% 6.34% 0.00%

TEAC CD-W524E

Piano Favorites Acoustic Planet vol.2 Bloodhound Gang "Greatest Hits"
Average extraction speed 27.8x 9.7x 29.0x
Total errors 1.12% 0.00% 0.00%

Yamaha CRW3200E-VK

Piano Favorites Acoustic Planet vol.2 Bloodhound Gang "Greatest Hits"
Average extraction speed 20.5x 14.0x 28.9x
Total errors 0.00% 0.01% 0.00%

The DVD drives still yield to modern CD-ROM/RW drives both in speed of audio data extraction and in quality of realization of this function.

Sound track extraction from audio CDs (EAC 0.9 prebeta 11)

Support of backoff and processing of data on C2 errors

Ricoh
MP5120A
HP dvd100i ASUSTeK
DVD E616
TEAC
CD-W524E
Yamaha CRW3200E-VK
C2 Yes Yes Yes Yes No

Burst mode

Piano Favorites Acoustic Planet vol.2 Bloodhound Gang "Greatest Hits"
Ricoh MP5120A 10.8x 9.8x 23.2x
HP dvd100i 10.6x 10.0x 23.7x
ASUSTeK DVD E616 6.8x 7.4x 23.6x
TEAC W524E 11.1x 9.0x 11.4x
Yamaha
CRW3200E-VK
13.6x 12.1x 12.2x

Secure mode

Piano Favorites Acoustic Planet vol.2 Bloodhound Gang "Greatest Hits"
Ricoh MP5120A 0.7x 2.0x 6.7x
HP dvd100i 0.5x 2.1x 6.7x
ASUSTeK DVD E616 1.6x 1.5x 7.0x
TEAC W524E 0.8x 1.6x 2.8x
Yamaha
CRW3200E-VK
4.7x 5.1x 8.4x

The difference between the drives is not considerable. Nevertheless, sometimes a high-quality CD-RW drive is preferable for copying of audio data where the maximum closeness to the original is required.

Advanced DAE Test

CD-RW drive Ricoh MP5120A HP dvd100i ASUSTeK DVD E616
Offset 504 bytes
(126 samples)
504 bytes
(126 samples)
2256 bytes
(564 samples)
Sequential Read Test Average Speed: 23.49X
Data Errors: 0
Sync Errors: 0
Average Speed: 23.54X
Data Errors: 0
Sync Errors: 0
Average Speed: 28.47X
Data Errors: 0
Sync Errors: 0
Harmonica Read Test Average Access Time: 184 ms
Data Errors: 0
Sync Errors: 0

Total Data Errors: 928
Total Sync Errors: 0
Quality Score: 100.0

Average Access Time: 209 ms
Data Errors: 0
Sync Errors: 0

Total Data Errors: 0
Total Sync Errors: 0
Quality Score: 100.0

Average Access Time: 110 ms
Data Errors: 0
Sync Errors: 0

Total Data Errors: 0
Total Sync Errors: 0
Quality Score: 100.0

On The Fly Copying Simulation Copying at 1 X
OK
Copying at 2 X
OK
Copying at 4 X
OK
Copying at 6 X
OK
Copying at 8 X
OK
Copying at 10 X
too slow
Copying at 12 X
too slow
Copying at 16 X
too slow
Copying at 1 X
OK
Copying at 2 X
OK
Copying at 4 X
OK
Copying at 6 X
too slow
Copying at 8 X
too slow
Copying at 10 X
too slow
Copying at 12 X
too slow
Copying at 16 X
too slow
Copying at 1 X
OK
Copying at 2 X
OK
Copying at 4 X
OK
Copying at 6 X
OK
Copying at 8 X
OK
Copying at 10 X
OK
Copying at 12 X
OK
Copying at 16 X
OK
CD Text Drive is capable of reading CD Text information
Subchannel Data Test 1
Track (01): 01
Relative position (01:05.00): 01:05.00
Absolute position (01:07.00): 01:07.00
Index (5): 5
Test 2
Track (17): 17
Relative position (01:33.00): 01:33.00
Absolute position (33:35.00): 33:35.00
Index (1): 1
Test 3
Track (36): 36
Relative position (00:00.00): 00:00.00
Absolute position (70:02.00): 70:02.00
Index (1): 1
Drive cannot read Subchannel Data directly
Leadin Drive cannot read data from the Leadin
Leadout Drive cannot read data from the Leadout

The detailed information on the tested parameters is given in the help file to the CDSpeed99 test program. If you don't want to download the utility, then here you can find the HTMl help file.

The results of the Ricoh and HP are almost identical: they have high-speed characteristics and none supports reading from LeadIn or LeadOut.

Overburn

CD-R Philips Silver Premium 16x (TY) Mirex 650 MBytes Rostok 780 MBytes
Ricoh MP5120A 77:03.26 77:21.34 93:23.62
HP dvd100i 77:02.50 77:22.35 93:17.26
TEAC CD-W524E 77:03.37 77:23.49 89:47.04
Mitsumi CR-4809TE 77:03.58 77:24.12 92:43.28
Yamaha CRW3200E-VK 77:03.26 77:21.26 91:33.64

The DVD+RW drives use the undocumented area of discs quite effectively, especially in case of 90-min discs.

Reading of a damaged CD

Ricoh MP5120A
HP dvd100i

The Ricoh does it best of all (although it failed to continue reading after a hard-to-read part). The first obstacle made the HP lower its speed to the minimal one, and the drive kept it until the end of the disc without any attempts to increase it.

Summary and conclusion

Today it's still hard to say which standard - DVD+RW or DVD-RW - will dominate. Both have advatages and disadvantages.

The DVD+RW Alliance has the strongest vendors on the market, but surprisingly there are no any promotional actions for this standard. Probably, the vendors haven't yet agreed on it. It's also possible that they are going to start active campaigns only when the second generation of the DVD+RW devices is released. Then it means that the today's DVD+RW are just trial. Besides, remember that there are no DVD-R discs - the problem which is lacking in case of the DVD-RW standard. Although they are already announced and future DVD+RW devices are going to support them, it's not clear whether today's DVD+RW drives will be able to record them.

Yamaha is doing big deals on the CD-RW market and carries flabby activity in the DVD+RW sphere.

Besides, it should be noted that DVD+RW media are not widely available. Of course, it's not beneficial for resellers to heap up their stores with DVD+RW discs. But it's also inconvenient for a user with a $500 device to spend much time looking for the media... Besides, I don't see much enthusiasm from Ritek, CMC and other Taiwanese media manufacturers.

On the other hand, DVD+R will reportedly be cheaper than DVD-R, and DVD+RW drives will quickly go down in price. And the second generation of DVD+RW drives should bring in the new turn of development of the data storage technology.

Test programs:


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