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Lite-On LDW-401S DVD+R/RW Review

November 21, 2003






Lite-On is one of the first Taiwanese drive makers to release a line of DVD recorders of its own design. This might initiate a wide transition from CD-R/RW drives to DVD recorders as Lite-On always offered mainstream solutions at affordable prices. If the trend keeps on, DVD recorders might get cheaper than $100 which is a certain psychological barrier. Today we are testing a DVD+R/RW drive from Lite-On, the first drive in the rewritable DVD line of this company. 




Specification

  • Record formats supported.
    • DVD: DVD+R, DVD+RW 
    • CD: CD-R, CD-RW 

  • Read formats supported.
    • DVD: DVD-ROM, DVD-Video, DVD+R/RW, DVD-R/RW.
    • CD: CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, CD-R, CD-RW, Photo CD, Video CD, Multisession, Karaoke CD, CD-I/FMV, CD Extra, CD Plus

  • Read speeds (max).
    • DVD-ROM : 12X CAV
    • CD-ROM/R: 40X CAV

  • Write speeds.
    • DVD+R: 2.4X, 4X (CLV)
    • DVD+RW: 2.4X, 4X (CLV)
    • CD-R: 40x (CAV)
    • CD-RW: 24x (P-CAV), 16x, 10x, 4x (CLV)

  • Write methods
    • CD: Fixed Packet, Variable Packet, TAO, SAO, DAO, Raw Mode Burning & Over-Burn
    • DVD: Disc at Once, Sequential Write, Random Access Write

  • Access time
    • DVD: 160 Msec
    • CD: 140 Msec

  • Interface: ATAPI/IDE ( PIO mode 4, DMA mode 2 and Ultra DMA mode 2)
  • Data buffer: 2 Mbytes
  • Mounting: horizontal or vertical.
  • Dimensions (W x D x H): 145 x 170 x 41.3 mm

The box also contains: 4x DVD+R(Ricoh), 4x DVD+RW(Ricoh), 2 software CDs (Power DVD XP player and Sonic DVD creation software), user guide, screws and analog audio cable. Fortunately, the drive's bundled with a 4X DVD+RW disc because it's still hard to find such discs on sale - as a rule, disc makers release respective media a couple of months later.




Like all latest models from Lite-On, this one is shorter than standard models: it's 170 mm long instead of 192 mm. It can be a good choice for those PC cases where lower 5" bays can't be used for drives because of mainboards installed. The design of the drive and its front panel is standard. 




The front panel houses an Eject button, a headphones-out, a volume control and a three-color LED. On the back you can find an operable audio-out.

The drive's equipped with a standard packet of Lite-On's technologies. 

SMART-BURN® is a kind of the buffer underrun error prevention and record quality monitoring technology. 

SMART-X® adjusts the speed of operation with media of different contents. For example, the speed will be automatically reduced in case of playing DVD-Video and lifted up in case of its copying. 

VAS (Vibration Absorber System)® reduces vibration and noise during the drive's operation. 

Below you can see its elemental base. 




So, it's based on MediaTek's chipset. And now you can look at how the components are arranged inside. 




The installation caused no problems. A user is offered a standard procedure, like that for an ordinary CD-ROM drive. The drive needs no special drivers. You can use, for example, NeroBurning Rom v6.0.0.9.

Lite-On LDW-401S




Now let's use other utilities to get more information on the drive; for example, Nero Infotool, which tells what formats and disc types the drive supports:

Lite-On LDW-401S




As you can see from the screenshot, the drive is RPC-2 and according to http://www.rpc1.com/ it's possible to turn it into RPC-1 with a special utility. 

EAC (EAC Configuration Wizard) tells us about Audio CDs. 
 




Test results

DVD recording

All DVD discs were flawlessly recorded. We used several media types to estimate its operation with +R/RW discs. It's interesting that the drive agreed to burn Imation 2.4x at 4x, though the burn time made 18 min. 37 sec. against 14-15 min. expected. 

DVD+R recording
Drive burning at 2.4x, min. burning at 4x, min.
AOpen DRW4410 24:16 15:21
Lite-On LDW-401S 23:32 14:31


DVD+RW recording
Drive fast cleaning, min. burning at 2.4x, min. burning at 4x, min.
AOpen DRW4410 00:23 23:15 --:--
Lite-On LDW-401S 00:23 25:10 16:26

The DVDs recorded were successfully read by the reference DVD-ROM drives Toshiba SD-M1712 and Pioneer DVD-117LJ.

Now let's see how the Lite-On DVD-ROM drive deals with the discs recorded. The KProbe utility will help us estimate a level of C1/C2 errors. Although the results also depend on whether the drive favors a given disc, some general information can be anyway obtained. 

Lite-On LDW-401S, DVD+R 4x Philips (Ricoh)



Lite-On LDW-401S, DVD+R 2.4x Imation (Ricoh) 



Lite-On LDW-401S, DVD+R 2.4x (burning at 4x) Imation (Ricoh) 



Recording at 4x causes much more errors at the end of the disc, that is why it's not recommended to burn Imation's media at a high speed. However, the most DVD drives are able to read the data recorded.

Lite-On LDW-401S, DVD+R 2.4x SKY



Lite-On LDW-401S, DVD+RW 2.4x Philips



Lite-On LDW-401S, DVD+RW 4x Ricoh



DVD media reading

NERO DVD Speed

Test DVD reading

Lite-On LDW-401S 1-layer DVD (stamped DVD-Data)




  AOpen DRW4410 Lite-On LDW-401S 
Average speed  8.15x CAV 9.11x CAV
Random Seek 140 ms 92 ms
Full Seek 198 ms 181 ms
SpinUp Time 1.92 sec 1.82 sec
SpinDown Time 1.89 sec 1.85 sec
Disc Recognition Time 4.15 sec 1.76 sec


Lite-On LDW-401S 2-layer DVD (stamped DVD-Video)




  AOpen DRW4410 Lite-On LDW-401S 
Average speed  6.05x CAV 6.29x CAV
Random Seek 218 ms 96 ms
Full Seek 314 ms 175 ms
SpinUp Time 2.05 sec 1.73 sec
SpinDown Time 1.76 sec 1.82 sec
Disc Recognition Time 2.29 sec 3.29 sec
Layer Change Time 61 ms 81 ms

Reading of recordable DVD

DVD+R reading

Lite-On LDW-401S



DVD+RW reading

Lite-On LDW-401S



DVD-R reading

Lite-On LDW-401S



DVD-RW reading

Lite-On LDW-401S



Unfortunately, the drive can't read multisession DVD-R media. 

DVD Video copying with Smart Ripper

CD-RW drive Average speed
AOpen DRW4410 2.9 X
Lite-On LDW-401S 4.1 X

CD media tests

CD burning time 

Traditionally, we used two types of media, with cyanine and phthalocyanine coating. The number of the trade marks were lift up to 4, 2 of each type, to provide more information of how the drive treats discs of different trade marks. Below is the ATIP for the discs tested. 

Mirex 48x
Disc Type = CDR (B-)
Lead In = 97:27:18
Lead Out = 79:59:74
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = Plasmon Data Systems Ltd.

SKC
Disc Type = CDR
Lead In = 97:26:24
Lead Out = 79:59:74
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = SKC Co., Ltd.

Philips 32x
Disc Type = CDR (A-) 
Lead In = 97:15:17
Lead Out = 79:59:73
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 73f/LBA:359848)
Manufacturer = RiTEK Corporation

Verbatim 48x
Disc Type = CDR (A+) 
Lead In = 97:34:23
Lead Out = 79:59:74
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = Mitsubishi Chemicals Corporation

The burning results will be partially represented in the graphical form.

Recording on the Lite-On LDW-401S ( Mirex 48x, phthalocyanine)



Recording of the Verbatim 48x and Philips 32x delivers a similar diagram. 

We also tested the drive's ability to burn cyanine discs at the minimal speed as this mode is often used by audiophiles to ensure high record quality. 
 




Unfortunately, the minimal speed the drive is able to burn CD-Rs is 8x. 
 

CD-R disc AOpen DRW4410 Lite-On LDW-401S
Philips 32x 4:15 3:06
Verbatim 48x 4:16 3:04
Mirex 48x 7:12 3:07
SKC 4x 21:14 10:48

To extend the picture, I added the results of the eproformance CD-RW. 
 

eproformance
Disc Type = HIGH SPEED CD-RW
Lead In = 97:27:10
Lead Out = 79:59:74
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = Plasmon Data Systems Ltd.
Verbatim
Disc Type = ULTRA SPEED CD-RW 24X
Lead In = 97:34:24
Lead Out = 74:43:00
Nominal = 656.40MB (74m 43s 00f/LBA:336075)
Manufacturer = Mitsubishi Chemicals Corporation
 

Recording on the Lite-On LDW-401S (eproformance 10x CD-RW)




Recording on the Lite-On LDW-401S (Verbatim 24x CD-RW)



Reading of the recorded discs on the Lite-On drive with KProbe

Reading of the Philips CD-R recorded on Lite-On LDW-401S 



Reading of the Verbatim CD-R recorded on Lite-On LDW-401S 



Reading of the Mirex CD-R recorded on Lite-On LDW-401S



Reading of the SKC CD-R recorded on Lite-On LDW-401S 



Reading of the eproformance CD-RW recorded on Lite-On LDW-401S 



Reading of the Verbatim CD-RW recorded on Lite-On LDW-401S 



Overburn

The discs used have the following ATIP. 

Verbatim 48x
Disc Type = CDR (A+) 
Lead In = 97:34:23
Lead Out = 79:59:74
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = Mitsubishi Chemicals Corporation

Intenso 99 min
Disc Type = CDR (A-)
Lead In = 96:43:37
Lead Out = 79:59:74
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = RiTEK Corporation
 
 

CD-RW drive 80 min CD-R 99 min CD-R
AOpen DRW4410 87:37.51 98:49.19
Lite-On LDW-401S 81:57.56 95:45.03

Time of CD-RW full formatting in UDF with InCD

The eproformance 10x CD-RW recorded in UDF format, 550 Mb test packet in 4500 files. 

Drive Formatting time (min.) Burn time (min.)
AOpen DRW4410  12:03 11:14
Lite-On LDW-401S 11:40 9:20 

The Verbatim 24x CD-RW recorded in UDF format, 550 Mb test packet in 4500 files. 

Drive Formatting time (min.) Burn time (min.)
Lite-On LDW-401S 9:50 5:22 

Operation with 80mm CDs (CD-RW disc used), formatting and recording in UDF

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

Drive Formatting time (min.) Burn time (min.)
AOpen DRW4410 9:15 6:34
Lite-On LDW-401S 9:16 7:01

CD reading parameters

CDWinBench 99 for Lite-On LDW-401S

  AOpen DRW4410 Lite-On LDW-401S
Winmark 1960 2140
Inside transfer 2920 Kb/s 2840 Kb/s
Outside transfer 5640 Kb/s 5480 Kb/s
CPU Utilization  1.23 % 1.9 %
Access Time 95.2 ms 93.2 ms

NERO CD Speed

Lite-On LDW-401S drive tested with the standard CD



  AOpen DRW4410 Lite-On LDW-401S
Average speed  31.25x CAV 30.42x CAV
Random Seek 103 ms 108 ms
Full Seek 217 ms 207 ms
SpinUp Time 2.04 1.90
SpinDown Time 2.43 2.87
Disc Recognition Time 8.02 sec 20.67 sec
Accurate stream Yes Yes

CD-ROM Drive Analyzer

CD-R reading on Lite-On LDW-401S



CD-RW reading on Lite-On LDW-401S



Reading of a low-quality CD on Lite-On LDW-401S



Direct copying of information from 780 MB CD-R to HDD

The drive successfully copied the contents of the 780MB drive without any errors. 

Lite-On LDW-401S 



Copy time

  • AOpen DRW4410 - 7 min. 56 sec.
  • Lite-On LDW-401S - 5 min. 48 sec.

CD audio track extraction (CDDAE 99, EAC)

Lite-On LDW-401S
  CDDAE  EAC 
Average extraction speed 24.3x  7.2x 
Total errors  0.00% 0.00%

 

Advanced DAE Quality(Nero CD-Speed)

Lite-On LDW-401S 




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

DAE Quality (EAC)

This test was made by the developer of the EAC, and it's called DAE Quality (here's its description). In short, it measures quality of audio data extraction and quality of C2 error processing with a special test disc. In this case it's impossible to measure C2 processing quality, just look at the general data on quality of audiotrack extraction. 

Lite-On LDW-401S 



    Lite-On LDW-401S
  • Errors total Num : 36372156
  • Errors (Loudness) Num : 184509 - Avg : -24.4 dB(A) - Max : -6.4 dB(A)
  • Error Muting Num : 42376 - Avg : 98.3 Samples - Max : 3584 Samples
  • Skips Num : 72 - Avg : 193.5 Samples - Max : 2856 Samples
  • Total Test Result : 50.4 points (of 100.0 maximum)
  • C2 Accuracy : 52.2 %

Drive's physical characteristics 

Noise

Drive Tray CD-Seek CD total DVD-Seek DVD total
Lite-On LDW-401S 7/10 7/10 7/10 7/10 8/10

There's no much noise if the drive doesn't work with CDs which are not properly balanced or when it doesn't work at the maximum speed. 

Thermal conditions

CD-RW drive T inside PC case, C T of the upper surface, C T of the lower surface, C
Lite-On LDW-401S 36 49 49

The drive gets pretty hot when used a lot. Be careful when placing other devices close to it as they can burn.

Vibration in case of unbalanced CDs

The drive vibrated when it worked with such disc; nevertheless, it managed to finish its reading without errors at high speed. 

Summary

The first Lite-On's DVD recorder made a good showing. This is one of the first DVD recorders that have a normal high-speed CD-R/RW part. However, the drive is not perfect: on the Kprobe screenshots you can see that the level of errors on high-speed CD-RWs recorded is very high. Besides, not all DVD drives read well. But such problems can be often solved on software level. Taking into account Lite-On's prompt support service it's quite possible that improved firmware versions will be released very soon. 
 
 

Roman Shelepov (srl@ixbt.com)

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