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DVD-ROM/CD-R/RW Drives Roundup

June 28, 2002



The number of companies producing combo drives keeps on growing. In many respects the interest toward such devices is explained by wide spreading of cases of the MicroATX and FlexATX standards and respective mini standards. Such cases have space for just one drive, and mostly it is a combo drive. In the notebook market the number of such drives is much greater than that in desktop PCs. Today we will review only standard PC drives. On the whole, the tendency of development of such drives remains the same. Their speed modes are still lower as compared with modern CD-R/RW drives. However, their prices keep on falling down.

Tested models

Testing technique

Test results

Recording of CD-R and CD-RW media

CD recording time

As some drives have a lower maximum write speed, the tests were carried out at several speeds so that to compare difference devices.

Recording of CD-R SKC (cyanine, 16x rated write speed)


CD-RW drive Time, 12x (min.) Time, 16x (min.) Time, 20x (min.)
PHILIPS RWDV2010 07:24 06:44 06:46
RICOH MP9200A-DP 06:58 06:22 06:34
TOSHIBA SD-R1202 07:54 06:39 --:--

The RICOH works the fastest with cyanine discs. Although the Philips drive uses a Ricoh's pickup it falls behind its brother.

Recording of CD-R Philips Silver Premium (phthalocyanine, 16x rated write speed)


CD-RW drive Time, 12x (min.) Time, 16x (min.) Time, 20x (min.)
PHILIPS RWDV2010 06:34 05:05 05:12
RICOH MP9200A-DP 06:48 05:22 05:24
TOSHIBA SD-R1202 06:46 05:24 --:--

Here the Philips solution is the fastest. The Toshiba's model is still the last.

As you can see, recording at 20x is sometimes slower than that at 16x. It can be so because the Safe Recording Technology integrated into both drives (Philips - Thermo Balanced Writing, Ricoh - Just Speed ) brings in its corrections. Although this technology can be disabled, the recording time doesn't increase much.

Time spent for full formatting of CD-RW disc in UDF with the InCD ver. 3.24.3. CD-RW recording in UDF, 650 MBytes test packet in 6500 files

Philips CD-RW74 4x disc


CD-RW drive Formatting time (min.) Record time (min.)
PHILIPS RWDV2010 28:15 55:53
RICOH MP9200A-DP 28:59 54:32
TOSHIBA SD-R1202 26:23 58:20

Verbatim DataLifePlus 10x disc


CD-RW drive Formatting time (min.) Record time (min.)
PHILIPS RWDV2010 12:18 26:21
RICOH MP9200A-DP 12:38 27:38
TOSHIBA SD-R1202 14:29 30:29

The TOSHIBA's drive copes excellently with formatting of the 4x disc, but at the same time it falls behind by the same margin in operation with the high-speed media. The PHILIPS is still leading in operation with RW media. In recording the competition is carried out mainly between the PHILIPS and RICOH drives.

Operation with 80mm CD media (by the example of a CD-RW disc), formatting and recording in UDF

Formatting and recording of 80mm CD-RW media in UDF. 4x write speed.


CD-RW drive Formatting time (min.) Record time (min.)
PHILIPS RWDV2010 10:10 6:08
RICOH MP9200A-DP 10:56 6:10
TOSHIBA SD-R1202 10:33 6:13

All the drives read and record the 80mm discs excellently, though the specifications of the RICOH says that the drive can only read 80mm discs. The same thing could be expected from the PHILIPS solution. But both drives didn't fail.

BLER factor of recorded CD-R.

For these tests we used a device described in this review.


CD-RW drive Philips Silver Premium SKC 16x
PHILIPS RWDV2010 6-12 43-48
RICOH MP9200A-DP 94-106 330-388
TOSHIBA SD-R1202 14-19 10-15

The Toshiba's drive has the most stable results in recording on different media types. The PHILIPS copes excellently with phthalocyanine discs but fails in operation with the cyanine ones. The RICOH has turned out to be the worst, although the Just Speed was enabled. Maybe it's because of peculiarities of the certain sample.

Overburn.


CD-RW drive Philips Silver Premium SKC 16x
PHILIPS RWDV2010 76:34.44 77:59.14
RICOH MP9200A-DP 77:02.50 78:05.23
TOSHIBA SD-R1202 76:31.29 78:06.59

It looks like that the highest Overburn is provided by the RICOH drive.

Tests of main parameters of CD reading

CDWinBench 99 results




There is no any considerable difference in performance between the drives. The TOSHIBA drive is just a little ahead in the read speed.

NERO CD Speed results

Diagrams of reading of the test CD.

PHILIPS RWDV2010

RICOH MP9200A-DP

TOSHIBA SD-R1202


PHILIPS RWDV2010 RICOH MP9200A-DP TOSHIBA SD-R1202
Average speed 30.43x CAV 30.50x CAV 31.82x CAV
Random Seek 88 ms 92 ms 1 ms
Full Seek 146 ms 160ms 1 ms
SpinUp Time N/A N/A 1.24 sec
SpinDown Time N/A N/A 2.07 sec
Disc Eject Time 1.98 2.75 sec 2.40 sec
Disc Load Time 8.51 sec 9.63 sec 1.25 sec
Disc Recognition Time 0.03 sec 0.02 sec 8.38 sec
Accurate stream Yes Yes No

Well, the TOSHIBA is again a little ahead in the read speed. Unfortunately, it's impossible to measure an access time of Toshiba's solutions. Besides, the TOSHIBA implements operation of audio track capture incorrectly. Later we will take a closer look at it.

CD-ROM Drive Analyzer

CD-R reading.

PHILIPS RWDV2010

RICOH MP9200A-DP

TOSHIBA SD-R1202

The TOSHIBA is still leading in the read speed. The diagrams show that the PHILIPS and RICOH drives are really cousins :).

CD-RW reading.

PHILIPS RWDV2010

RICOH MP9200A-DP

TOSHIBA SD-R1202

In this test the model of Toshiba lags behind its competitors. It should be noted that a low speed of CD-RW reading is typical of TOSHIBA drives.

Low-quality CD reading

PHILIPS RWDV2010

RICOH MP9200A-DP

TOSHIBA SD-R1202

All the drives read the low-quality CDs perfectly. There were no uncorrectable errors.

Sound track extraction from audio CDs (CDDAE 99)

PHILIPS RWDV2010


Licensed disc Pirated disc
Average extraction speed 28.4x 24.7x
Total errors 0.00% 0.00%

RICOH MP9200A-DP


Licensed disc Pirated disc
Average extraction speed 30.8x 29.3x
Total errors 0.00% 0.00%

TOSHIBA SD-R1202


Licensed disc Pirated disc
Average extraction speed 15.5x 15.3x
Total errors 0.00% 0.12%

In these operations the TOSHIBA falls much behind the other drives, besides it had some errors here. The RICOH takes the lead.

Advanced DAE Quality(Nero CD-Speed)

PHILIPS RWDV2010


Offset 2712 bytes (678 samples)
Sequential Read Test Average Speed: 29.61 X
Data Errors: 0
Sync Errors: 0
Harmonica Read Test Average Access Time: 115 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
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

Leadin Drive cannot read data from the Leadin
Leadout Drive cannot read data from the Leadout

RICOH MP9200A-DP


Offset 2712 bytes (678 samples)
Sequential Read Test Average Speed: 29.65 X
Data Errors: 0
Sync Errors: 0
Harmonica Read Test Average Access Time: 119 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
OK
Copying at 12 X
too slow
Copying at 16 X
too slow
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

Leadin Drive cannot read data from the Leadin
Leadout Drive cannot read data from the Leadout

TOSHIBA SD-R1202


Offset -2008 bytes (-502 samples)
Sequential Read Test Average Speed: 15.44 X
Data Errors: 0
Sync Errors: 0
Harmonica Read Test Average Access Time: 158 ms
Data Errors: 146875
Sync Errors: 502

Total Data Errors: 146875
Total Sync Errors: 502
Quality Score: 70.3

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
sync errors
Copying at 12 X
sync errors
Copying at 16 X
too slow
CD Text Drive is capable of reading CD Text information
Subchannel Data Test 1
Track (01): 01
Relative position (01:05.00): 01:05.01 -> incorrect!
Absolute position (01:07.00): 01:07.01 -> incorrect!
Index (5): 5

Test 2
Track (17): 17
Relative position (01:33.00): 01:33.01 -> incorrect!
Absolute position (33:35.00): 33:35.01 -> incorrect!
Index (1): 1

Test 3
Track (36): 36
Relative position (00:00.00): 00:00.01 -> incorrect!
Absolute position (70:02.00): 70:02.01 -> incorrect!
Index (1): 1

Leadin Drive cannot read data from the Leadin
Leadout Drive cannot read data from the Leadout

As you can see, the TOSHIBA's drive is not good at extraction of audio tracks. It has errors almost in every test section. The PHILIPS shows the best scores, it even bested its relative from RICOH.

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

Tests of main parameters of DVD reading.

NERO DVD Speed results

Diagrams of the test DVD reading.

PHILIPS RWDV2010

RICOH MP9200A-DP

TOSHIBA SD-R1202


PHILIPS RWDV2010 RICOH MP9200A-DP TOSHIBA SD-R1202
Average speed 5.87x CAV 5.91x CAV 6.36x CAV
Random Seek 139 ms 149 ms 1 ms
Full Seek 229ms 239 ms 2 ms
SpinUp Time 2.81 sec 2.69 sec 1.35 sec
SpinDown Time 1.92 sec 1.76 sec 1.54 sec
Disc Eject Time 2.02 sec 1.89 sec 2.38 sec
Disc Load Time 12.70 sec 12.76 sec 1.29 sec
Layer Change Time 92 ms 35 ms 70 ms
Disc Recognition Time 0.02 sec 0.02sec 6.65 sec

As usual, the TOSHIBA is the best in the reading operations.

Reading of the recordable DVD discs

Development of recordable DVD discs resulted in one severe problem - the war of standards. At present, there are two camps - DVD-R/RW and DVD+RW. There are a lot of vague aspects concerning the DVD+R, that is why we don't use such discs in the tests. So, it is very important that a drive can work with all existing standards.

DVD+RW reading.

PHILIPS RWDV2010

RICOH MP9200A-DP

TOSHIBA SD-R1202

Well, all the drives are able to read this standard. The RICOH has defined the size a little incorrectly but it has read the contents flawlessly. The PHILIPS has taken the palm here.

DVD-R reading.

TOSHIBA SD-R1202

Well, the TOSHIBA's solution is the only that is able to read discs of such type.

DVD-RW reading.

TOSHIBA SD-R1202

Again the TOSHIBA is the only model able to work with such media. As you can see, a low speed of reading of all DVD discs is typical of this drive. The RICOH and PHILIPS made some attempts to read the DVD-RW media, but they failed after the contents directory.

DVD-Video playback with the Cyberlink PowerDVD 4.0

The DVD-Video playback was flawless. No artifacts were noticed.

Physical characteristics of the drives

Noise


CD-RW drive Tray CD-Seek CD general DVD-Seek DVD general
PHILIPS RWDV2010 7/10 8/10 6/10 8/10 7/10
RICOH MP9200A-DP 6/10 8/10 6/10 8/10 7/10
TOSHIBA SD-R1202 6/10 7/10 7/10 8/10 7/10

All the drives are quite noisy at the maximum speeds. The TOSHIBA is the quietest. Nevertheless, all of them are able to reduce the maximum speed with the help of external programs, and the overall noise level can be reduced to the acceptable one.

Thermal conditions


CD-RW drive T inside the case, C T of the upper surface, C T of the lower surface, C
PHILIPS RWDV2010 36 44 45
RICOH MP9200A-DP 36 45 47
TOSHIBA SD-R1202 36 46 46

The thermal conditions are normal; nevertheless, you shouldn't install any devices close to the drives, to avoid their overheating.

Vibration in operation with badly balanced CDs

The TOSHIBA works worst of all with such disc. The drive vibrated strongly and loudly. The RICOH did it a little better. The PHILIPS turned out to be the best.

Summary

Well, the combo drives have found their niche on the modern computer market and have been developing quite successfully in it. All the drives we have examined today have both advantages and disadvantages. For example, the Toshiba's model will be a good choice for those who are not going to extract audio tracks and for whom quality of recording of CD-R/RW and support of all new DVD formats are very important. The Ricoh and Philips are for those who need high quality of operation with audio CDs but who don't really need much support of all latest formats.

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