DVD-RAM format has slipped in to all modern optical drives, turning them into all-purpose devices that can work with all existing optical media formats. ASUS did not stand back from this trend and also added the all-purpose DRW-1608P2S recorder into its product range. Today we are going to review this product. Our recorder was still in the box, but our Internet reconnaissance already informed us that this recorder was an OEM modification of Pioneer DVR-110. We expected that, because ASUS has been using Pioneer as an OEM partner for manufacturing DVD recorders.
We found the following components in the Retail package: recorder, 80-wire IDE cable, audio cable, screws, emergency eject pin, multi-language quick installation guide, and two CDs with software (Nero Burning rom and some programs for creating DVD-Video). The recorder has a standard design. The front panel houses the following controls: Eject button, emergency eject hole, and one-color busy light. The tray is made of black plastic and is equipped with rubber padding to reduce the noise and dust penetration inside the device.
Judging from the labels on the box, this recorder possesses a standard set of proprietary technologies:
The label on the top panel provides basic information about the place and time this drive was manufactured.
The recorder is based on the NEC chipset. This chipset is used for all latest optical drives from this company.
The photo below shows the innards of the drive.
The installation caused no problems. Users have to go through a standard procedure, like that of an ordinary CD-ROM drive. The drive requires no special drivers. All you have to do to work with the recorder is to install NeroBurning Rom (or any other CD burn program), which comes shipped with the bundle.
Now let's use various utilities to get some information on the drive. You can roughly find out supported formats and disc types using Nero Infotool.
As you can see on the screenshot, it's an RPC-2 drive. Unfortunately, there is no RPC-1 firmware for this model yet, but you may try to flash it into Pioneer DVR-110(RPC-1), losing your warranty.
The recorder outputs inaccurate data (to put it mildly) in PI/PO test mode in Nero CD-DVD Speed, so you are not recommended to use it for this purpose.
The data about its Audio CD capacities were obtained using the popular EAC program (EAC Configuration Wizard results).
If you want to analyze detailed test results, you may find them here.
Working with DVD
Let's review main peculiarities of this recorder with various DVD media types. We'll start with DVD-RAM. This recorder can burn DVD-RAM discs without a cartridge at 5x speed (in case of certified discs).
On the screenshot you can see that the burn process runs at 5x. But that's not true. That fact is the test program disables data verification. The real burn speed will not exceed 2.5x. If you want to use a DVD-RAM disc in HDD emulation mode, you may need InCD-like programs or special drivers (from similar devices). For my tests I used drivers from LG DVD-RAM drive. In case of a 5x DVD-RAM disc, the maximum write speed for FAT32 was ~1290 kb/s, ~1945 kb/s for UDF. In the former case, the read speed was about ~1920 kb/s, in the latter case the read speed reached ~2250 kb/s.
The recorder can burn DVD+R/-R DL discs at 8x speed. It automatically sets Book Type to DVD-ROM for DVD+R DL format - it's necessary for better compatibility with old DVD-ROM drives and consumer electronics. Unfortunately, as it's impossible to set Book Type for DVD-R DL format, recorded discs are not detected by old DVD drives. The recorder uses Z-CLV mode for writing discs at speeds exceeding 4x.
Even though there are no 8x DVD+R/-R DL discs so far, the recorder allows to burn Verbatim discs at this speed. The record quality at maximum speeds is generally acceptable, but you are recommended not to exceed the 4x speed to obtain higher quality.
Let's proceed to DVD+R/-R. According to the specifications, this recorder can burn such discs at up to 16x. The recorder uses Z-CLV mode to burn discs at 8-12x. This drive allows to burn some high-quality discs at higher speeds.
According to the results of our burn quality tests of various DVD+R/-R discs, this recorder generally copes well with its tasks. There are small problems with record quality of some discs from little known manufacturers. But they may be fixed in new firmware versions. It should be noted, that the burn quality of DVD+R discs is a tad better than in case of DVD-R discs. We found out no compatibility problems, the recorder works well with most discs.
The recorder can burn DVD+/-RW maximum at 8x/6x. It uses CLV mode at speeds below 6x and Z-CVL at higher speeds.
We detected no compatibility problems when recording DVD-/+RW discs from various manufacturers. This recorder worked well with all discs available. The quality of recorded discs was rather good. We had no problems even with discs from the second echelon manufacturers, which often caused problems with our test drives.
The recorder reads various DVD types quite well, it uses the CAV mode. The maximum 16x read speed is obtained with DVD-ROM discs only. When reading DVD+/-R, the drive picks up the maximum speed of 12x, the same concerns reading DVD-ROM DL. The slowest discs to read are rewritable DVDs. In this case, the maximum speed reaches 8x. Of course, DVD-RAM is another story, the recorder reads such discs at 5x speed in CLV mode.
Working with CD-ROM and CD-R/RW
CD characteristics of the recorder allow comfortable operations with any CD types. The recorder uses CAV mode for burning various CD-R discs at maximum 40x speed. In this case the burn process starts at 18x and gradually rises to 40x. At lower burn speeds, the recorder may use P-CAV mode. What concerns CD-RW, CLV technology is used to burn 10x discs; Z-CLV is used for burning 24x and 32x discs.
We had absolutely no gripes with the quality of CD-R discs recorded on this drive, all the discs were easily read by the test drive and the C1 error level turned out quite low. The recorder coped much worse with burning CD-RW discs, the error level on practically all discs was very high. But we still had no problems reading these discs.
This recorder easily reads various CD types, but it had some problems reading low-quality CD. The recorder uses CAV mode for reading most CDs, the read speed gradually rises from 18x at the beginning of the disc to maximum 42x at the end.
ASUS designed a good all-purpose drive that meets all modern requirements. This recorder possesses high-quality support for all DVD formats, it easily records and reads all DVD types. The situation with CD discs is a tad worse: the level of PI errors was high for reading recorded CD-RW discs and the recorder read low-quality CDs unsteadily. But on the whole, we don't have serious gripes with this recorder and we can certainly recommend it to users.
We express our thanks to ASUS Russia
for the provided ASUS DRW-1608P2S drive
We express our thanks to the Russian representative office of Traxdata
for the provided Traxdata and Datawrite optical media.
Roman Shelepov (firstname.lastname@example.org)
March 26, 2006
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