The alphabet soup of competing DVD-recording formats is enough to make anyone's head spin. How do you know if the DVD you just burned will work with your home DVD player? And will it also run on your computer's DVD-ROM drive? With the Sony DRU-500A internal DVD burner, you no longer have to worry. This remarkable drive is the first to support all four popular formats (DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, and DVD+RW), but it also offers superb performance and packs a comprehensive software bundle, all at a very affordable price. If you need a DVD burner, look no further than the DRU-500A.
Here I am, baby
The DRU-500A also comes with a generous list of software titles for all your recording-related needs. It includes Veritas RecordNow for mastering both writable and rewritable DVDs and CDs; Veritas Simple Backup for backing up data; Sonic MyDVD, which turns your home movies into video DVDs; ArcSoft ShowBiz for video editing; MusicMatch Jukebox, which lets you play, record, and organize your music; and CyberLink PowerDVD 4.0 for DVD-movie playback.
So what's missing? The software CD fails to include Veritas DLA (Drive Letter Access) packet-writing software, which lets you drag and drop files onto rewritable discs. Sony does provide a link to a Web site (which Sony says will be live in November), where users can download it for free. You can also download a free copy of Veritas RecordNow DX, a more comprehensive version of the user-friendly, wizard-oriented Veritas RecordNow.
One drive to write them all
Once you do, you'll be amazed at how quickly this drive does its job. It writes DVD-RW media at 2X and DVD-R at 4X, double the current speed of other products on the market. The DRU-500A's speed for DVD+R/DVD+RW media remains at the industry-standard 2.4X, however. The drive also burns CD-Rs at 24X and CD-RWs at 10X. To prevent buffer-underrun errors, it features an 8MB buffer memory and Power-Burn technology.
Fast and furious
In packet-writing tests, the DRU-500A once again rocked the chart. It recorded 500MB to DVD+RW in only 2 minutes, 34 seconds--more than twice the speed of the HP. And though 2X DVD-RW media remains scarce, Sony did manage to send us two precious discs in time for testing. Using the new high-speed media, we noticed a significant speed boost over current-generation DVD-R/-RW drives; it took the DRU-500A just 3 minutes, 16 seconds to write the same 500MB directory.
The DRU-500A also did very well with CDs. It burned a 43-minute audio CD in only 3 minutes, 2 seconds and recorded 400MB to a CD-RW in only 5 minutes, 29 seconds--comparable scores to those of most current, high-speed CD burners.
In read tests, however, the DRU-500A performed a little slower than the HP. It took 1 minute, 53 seconds and 3 minutes, 8 seconds to copy a 383MB file and a 500MB folder back onto the hard drive, respectively.
With its competitive price, multiformat support, and long list of software, the Sony DRU-500A is a one-stop drive for anyone who wants to burn home movies or music, as well as archive data without having to worry about compatibility. In short, it's simply the coolest and the best deal among all burners we've tested.
Sony DRU-500A DVD-R/+R review
DVD recording is gradually catching on with
consumers, but confusion over the two leading formats, DVD+RW and DVD-RW, has
hampered sales. Analysts say potential buyers don't want to buy an expensive
device--often costing upwards of $500--that could soon become a market also-ran.
I just received the drive (finally!). My drive
was ordered from Retail
Express (Resellers only).
The drive comes with some Recording software and tools. All software is bundled with the retail version of the recorder and supports multiple languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch and on the second disc: Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Swedish, Portuguese, Korean and Japanese.
These include Veritas Record Now, Veritas DLA, Veritas Simple Backup, MusicMatch Jukebox, Sonic MyDVD and Cyberlink PowerDVD. Also contains the disc both software manual and user guide in HTML format. Online manuals and guides are also in multiple languages.
RecordNow is the main CD/DVD mastering program included with the DRU-500A. Along with the ability to make backup copies of CD's and DVD's, this program allows the user to starting creating their own custom discs within minutes thanks to some easy to follow wizards.
The version of the included program is 4.50
Sony will allow users to download a free upgrade to RecordNow DX sometime in November.
VERITAS Simple Backup
Simple Backup is a fast and easy way to backup your computer. The interface allows you to backup and restore your entire system thanks to its easy to follow wizards.
The full system backup protects your computer's data and registry at the click of a button. If you don't need to backup everything, you can manually select the files and folders you want to protect through the custom backup. Simple Backup also offers more advanced backup features like compression and spanning. With the built in compression option, you can fit up to 1.2GB of data onto a CD.
For video editing duties, Sony has included Showbiz from Arcsoft. ShowBiz allows you to drag and drop your video footage directly onto the editing timeline. From here you can add transitions, background music, special effects or custom text.
Once you're done you can customize the sample rate and frame size and export your video to AVI or MPEG format. You can also turn it into a QuickTime or Windows Media movie to get it ready for internet streaming. Otherwise, you can export it to a MyDVD project for further customization.
Sonic MyDVD 4.0
MyDVD allows you to create your own VCD's and DVD's quickly and easily. Sonic has revamped the interface for version 4.0. Right from the start, MyDVD gives you a variety of options including the ability to create a DVD, a Video CD or edit video.
The main interface is very different from what we saw on earlier versions of MyDVD. The "toolbar" is gone and has been replaced by a much nicer layout. The main functions of MyDVD are still easily accessible. From here you can start new projects, open existing projects or save the one you're currently working on.
Adding movie clips to your current project is as easy as drag and drop. MyDVD lets you take any MPEG-1, MPEG-2, AVI or QuickTime video clip and add it to your project. Of course there is a trade off here. Even with a fairly fast computer, MyDVD can take a good amount of time to convert the clips into a usable format. MyDVD also allows you to make your own custom menus and will even let you add your own pictures, icons and sound effects. Unfortunately, version 4.0 still doesn't let you place the menu icons where you want them.
Need to capture some video clips from your VCR or other video source? No problem, MyDVD can do that too. You can also start the record direct-to-Disc wizard from here. This wizard allows you to easily transfer video directly from a DV camcorder to disc if you have the right hardware.
MusicMatch Jukebox 7.1
This is a popular utility to create, manage and organize all sorts of multimedia audio files, including MP3s. Once you've created the perfect play list they can then be burned to CD.
Unfortunately the number of burns is limited to only five. Once you've gone beyond this, you will need to upgrade to MusicMatch Jukebox Plus.
CyberLink PowerDVD 4.0 XP
CyberLink's PowerDVD is one of the more popular software DVD players on the market now. PowerDVD offers a complete set of navigation commands, including advanced features like multi-angle viewing, multi-language and subtitle selection, digital zoom and even parental control. As the name might suggest, version PowerDVD 4.0 XP fully supports Windows XP. It is also compatible with files created by Microsoft's Windows Media products.
The PowerDVD version on the disc is for Sony only. It won't install on a system without a Sony DVDRom.
As you can see, the drive supports almost all functions ;)
Nero (version 188.8.131.52) is installed on the test PC. Nero reports:
And finally: this is what CloneCD (184.108.40.206) thinks about the drive,
The Veritas Recordnow software recognizes the drive also of course (it's bundled with the recorder). The program works, but I won't recommend to install it. It only can copy 1:1, and make a new complilation. That's all, only the very basic functions.
I prefer Nero. The latest version (220.127.116.11) does support the Sony DRU-500A.
As you can see, the drive performs very good, at the end the 32x speed is reached. The avarage speed while reading is 24.44x as you can see. This is a little slower than the Philips DVDRW228 (as tested on dvdwriters.co.uk. However, using CAV, the drive is able to reach it's maximum speed of 32x, while the Philips couldn't get >28x.
The seek times have been tested also:
The load-eject test:
Recorded CDs (CD-R)
The same test as above. This time using a CDR disk. (A new Platinum 80-min, with a fresh-burned NFS HP2 ISO, recorded on my 12x Sanyo writer)
Audio CD (DAE)
What does this drive do with an audio CD? How does extract audio cd's? Time to test!
The read speed of the drive is very good. It is faster than the Philips 228 DVDRW, and faster than the Pioneer A04. The Pioneer A05 performs almost equal at this point. The drive does not support reading CD Text, however, i'm not sure about it, since the CD which is used in this test didn't have CD-Text on it. (i couldn't burn it with nero cdspeed).
The read speed of an audio CD (an old MTV Audio CD, Pressed (but not legal ;)):
Also here: Very good results. The drive reads audio cd at an avarage speed of 23.79x
Reading a CDRW:
Reading CDRW is of course not a problem for the drive.
The drive should read DVDs at a speed of 8x. Now we will see if the drive really can do this.
In this test I will try to read a pressed DVD. (Twilight 74)
As you can see, the drive starts at 3.3x, and ends at 8.01x. So reading pressed DVD's is no problem for the drive, only the CPU load goes up to 80% @ 8x reading.
Now the same test as above, but this time a recorded DVD (A copy of a MP3 Collection DVD. Burned on an Arita DVD-R with a Pioneer A03 writer)
This is bad... As already mentioned on some forums, the drive seems to be locked at 2x max... It just won't read DVD-R above 2x. The drive can write DVD-R at 4x (with the right media offcourse) but can't read it that fast ;)
Reading a DVD movie: Payback. Region 2, DVD-5 format (Single Sided, single layer)
Also bad performance. The drive won't read above 2x. Enough for playing a movie, but way too slow for ripping or whatever. DVD-Video (pressed) has also been tested with SmartRipper, but also: 2x max reading :(
Lets hope Sony will fix this issue with a firmwareupdate.
For this moment (and maybe forever) an additional DVD-Rom is not a bad idea.
The last DVD read test: How does the drive read a DVD+RW disc? (The one which is included with the drive)
The drive reads DVD+RW disc at the same speed as it can write them: 2.5x. The error on the end is due to a bad record, i have screwed my DVD+RW and don't have another one to test it again ;). Don't blame the drive for that!
Writing goes ok. Nero (18.104.22.168) supports the drive. As you can see, the CD was finished in 3min 45.
Recording CD-R - CLV speed
See how the recorder actually records. (using Z-CLV)
As you can see above, the Sony DRU-500A writer uses Z-CLV to record a disk. Starting at 16x, going 20x, and finish the CD at 24x.
Recording CD-R - Overburning
What does the Sony DRU-500A think of big CDs? 90min, 99min, and even 100min? This test will see what it does. I used some white-label 100min CD-R for this test. Nero CDSpeed identicates the media as "Plasmon"
The drive is not good at overburning. As you can see, the Sony can only overburn up to 80.42.53... Not that much, but not a real problem.
The Sony is able to rewrite CDRWs at a speed of 10x using high-speed media.
Nero rewrites the disk at 10x without problems. The full cd is written at 10x.
Recording DVD-R / DVD-RW
The drive supports both DVD-R and DVD+R
standards. At DVD-R, Sony supports up to 4x write speed.
As you can see, the drive detects the disc as a 1x DVD-R, and records it succesfully at 1x.
Princo 1-2x DVD-R DVD-Box
This disc is succesfully written at 2x.
I did also test some other media:
I'm going to test more brands later this week, and hope to find some 4x media (if they are already available)
I don't have any DVD-RW disc at the moment, so this test will be added whenever I have them.
Recording DVD+R / DVD+RW
Disc succesfully recorded at 2.5x. However, I wasn't able to read the recorded disc, most likely due to some errors on the original DVD.
This is done on a Sony DVD+RW disc, the one that came with the drive.
As you can see, formatting the DVD+RW media took about 29 seconds. Burning DVD+RW has the same speed as burning at DVD+R. (2.5x)
Since I don't have any other DVD+R / DVD+RW media, I can't test more DVD+R, maybe next week.
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