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Are Cheap DVD Burners Worth the Trouble?

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April 5, 2007 2:03:42 PM

There are noticeable differences in performance between various low-end $40 DVD burners. Our tests of five devices from LG, Pioneer, Samsung and Sony show what you can expect.
April 5, 2007 2:50:40 PM

STOP WRITING REVIEWS

Crickey, you are HORRIBLE.
- You fail to incorporate one of the newest leading names that people use more and more of everyday: Lite-On.
- You use NEC, which practically no one uses for DVD drives.
- You don't mention price other than bundling thim all as "low end $40 DVD burners."
- You don't use a high end burner as a control for what all the "low end" burners should be trying to achieve.

GO BACK TO 7th GRADE SCIENCE AND LEARN WHAT CONTROL AND VARIABLES ARE
April 5, 2007 2:54:12 PM

Quote:
Pioneer can be called a Pioneer for optical drives



Puns aren't all that funny....this makes me think of "Dee Dee Dee"
Related resources
April 5, 2007 3:01:55 PM

Quote:
There are noticeable differences in performance between various low-end $40 DVD burners. Our tests of five devices from LG, Pioneer, Samsung and Sony show what you can expect.


Mine is in my sig. I have had no problems so far, but I must admit I still rarely use it to burn DVDs (I get most experience trying to use DVDs from someone else's burner or whatever--no, it's not copyrighted stuff either). The four I've made work fine...well there's an issue with the one, which I'm fixing to get to.

Here is my personal experience with DVD burning: The one time I burned a DVD at 16x, I had difficulty reading it in certain DVD drives. Oddley enough, the others that I burned at 8X even use the same media as that other but they all work fine in all players (all are DVD+R media certified up to 16x by the way).

Take your time writing discs and they seem to last longer and work better--that's just as true with DVDs IMO than it is with CD-R's.
April 5, 2007 3:06:11 PM

Ever heard of constructive criticism?

Only saying even if that is how you feel, putting it that way does nothing but cause anger/hard feelings and does nothing positive. Explain that you would have preferred if he used more brands, etc., and he might actually listen.

Of course, you don't HAVE to take my advice, but if you want people to be influenced by your opinion, give this a try. You'd be surprised that people might actually listen/agree with you.
April 5, 2007 4:03:37 PM

Quote:
Ever heard of constructive criticism?

Only saying even if that is how you feel, putting it that way does nothing but cause anger/hard feelings and does nothing positive. Explain that you would have preferred if he used more brands, etc., and he might actually listen.

Of course, you don't HAVE to take my advice, but if you want people to be influenced by your opinion, give this a try. You'd be surprised that people might actually listen/agree with you.


Any font above 12 makes people feel important, let him be.
I'm surprised caps lock wasnt used :( 
April 5, 2007 4:06:01 PM

I would like to know the speed/writing error ratio from the drives, the difference between these cheap ones against others like Plextor and tests in several media including cds also.

What a cheap ass review.
April 5, 2007 4:15:40 PM

Interesting?

I have both the LG drive and the Samsung SATA drives. I will now swear by the Samsung SATA drives. They are absolutely dead quiet (during reading and writing) and will reach their maximum read and writes by the end of the read and write sessions. The SATA interface didn't increase speeds overall, but if you are using two drives at the same time you can read or write to both drives at the same time without slowing down the other, like in the case of both being on the same IDE channel. I believe the IDE channel will only support read/write speeds of 8x each if two drives are going at the same time.

I am not so sure this drives in this article were tested properly. I certainly fail to see how the SATA drives performed so poorly in some of the test. There certainly must have been other influences to the OS that was impacting the performance.
April 5, 2007 4:30:05 PM

Quote:
Are Cheap DVD Burners Worth the Trouble?


What made this review catch my attention, was the statement that apparently cheap DVD-burners are trouble, but perhaps their low price could make up for it.

I've had some pretty annoying experiences with dvd-burners myself, so I could relate to troubles such as inability to recognise media, or burning errors. As a consumer always looking out for a hardware upgrade, I'm keen on knowing what kind of troubles I can come across when buying a cheap product, and (more importantly) what troubles I can avoid by buying a more expensive one.

So, I wonder, what trouble it is you are referring to in the title of your review? And can this trouble be avoided by choosing a different brand of dvd-burner? If so, which?
April 5, 2007 4:32:51 PM

I would have liked to see an ASUS drive included, as I bought one recently, but I realize that the test wasn't meant to be all inclusive. Other than that, I really didn't see much that indicated price verses performance and such. And I didn't see anything that would particularly guide me in a DVD burner purchase.
April 5, 2007 4:33:40 PM

It seems very strange that the LG had the best time for importing audio CDs, creating a DVD, and DVD load and recognition, yet double the time to decrypt an ISO? How many times was that test performed?

The conclusion of the review doesn't match your dramatic headline. What drive in that pack is so bad that you would recommend we not buy for $40?? And what "trouble" were the $40 drives causing? :?
a c 152 G Storage
April 5, 2007 4:36:10 PM

Quote:
STOP WRITING REVIEWS

Crickey, you are HORRIBLE.
- You fail to incorporate one of the newest leading names that people use more and more of everyday: Lite-On.
- You use NEC, which practically no one uses for DVD drives.
- You don't mention price other than bundling thim all as "low end $40 DVD burners."
- You don't use a high end burner as a control for what all the "low end" burners should be trying to achieve.

GO BACK TO 7th GRADE SCIENCE AND LEARN WHAT CONTROL AND VARIABLES ARE


Well thats not nice at all

First off, Light-ON is not a NEW company they have been around for many years. Should they have included it? Short answer yes

There are plenty of people with NEC drives out there. My only gripe with NEC in the past was a total lack(there where some but not many) of firmware updates.

I assume the prices on all are within 5$ of one another so 35-45 depending on where you shop. How can you give a definitive price when you can get it for 35 one place and 40 or more somewhere else.

Yes the should have run a control burner, however there are nicer ways to say this. Such as, "It would have been nice to see how a 100$ plextor compares to the burners in the review"
--------back on topic--------

Interesting to see how slow the Samsung was for CDDA extraction. Was that with the latest firmware? Was there other software to try? Windows Media Player? Exact Audio Copy?

EDIT


had to
April 5, 2007 4:38:08 PM

Quote:

- You fail to incorporate one of the newest leading names that people use more and more of everyday: Lite-On.
- You don't use a high end burner as a control for what all the "low end" burners should be trying to achieve.



Agreed (though Lite-On isn't necessarily new; they've been private labeling drives for a long time).

I'm also unhappy with the title of this article "Are Cheap DVD Burners Worth the Trouble?" One would assume, based upon the title selection, that the author(s) was able to uncover some kind of problem with some or all of the drives which would make them more difficult to install, operate or enjoy than their more expensive brethren.

That obviously was not the case.

The title of this article is therefore entirely arbitrary or specious at best.

Were I titling this piece :wink: I might have gone with "Reasonable (but not Cheap!) DVD Burners." Maybe better: "Cheap or reasonable ODDs?"
a b G Storage
April 5, 2007 4:40:11 PM

I have to agree with bourgeoisdude. Generally, when I burn a DVD or a CD, I drop the speed to a low setting anyway. I have noticed a HUGE difference when burning at max speeds and the lowest speeds. Also, I never made a coaster when I burn at the lowest speeds. I can wait for my DVD backup to burn. I don't need it within 4 minutes.

Overall, are $40 drives worth it? I had my $40 Memorex drive for 2 years now. No complaints as of yet.
April 5, 2007 4:42:45 PM

Quote:
I would like to know the speed/writing error ratio from the drives, the difference between these cheap ones against others like Plextor and tests in several media including cds also.

What a cheap ass review.


Agreed. How does benchmarking speeds answer the question "Are Cheap DVD Burners worth the Trouble"? Unless I suppose you are buying one specifically for burning 100's of DVDs in a short time period. But then wouldn't you want to know if the burns were all good quality?

P.S. Considering LG lead all (almost all) tests but gave miserable results in the DVD rip test, what did LG say about this strange issue when you contacted them? Seems like a software/firmware issue to me...

-Deuce-
a b G Storage
April 5, 2007 4:56:08 PM

This is a stupid review all together. There were hardly any facts just stipulation and an unlabeled graph(db noise anyone?)



Gee wizz where are the other more popular and thus, more likely to be purchased drives from... uh.... um.... LITE-ON???

Missing:

Lite-On
A-open
Asus

Would have loved to see the control (plextor, the claimed best burner available)


How worthless are your tests when there is no control?

"This drive can decrypt a dvd in 9 minutes".

Wow? What does that mean, not much in the scheme of things.


This drive decrypts a DVD in 9 minutes, the fastest in our test group. This is compared to the 2.5 minutes using a high end Plextor DVD drive.


That is useful information. This means that the $40 dvdr/w set you tested do not reach the quality or speed or w/e of the more expensive alternatives.


Toms hardware has great forums, but the reviews have been lacking for quite some time.
a b G Storage
April 5, 2007 4:58:20 PM

d00000h.

It is more likely that LG locks the read speed for DVD's resulting in poor rip speeds. This is common and why I use plextor drives for that purpose.
April 5, 2007 5:46:59 PM

Quote:
- You use NEC, which practically no one uses for DVD drives.


There are many who use NEC drives.

There are gems to be found in the below $40.00 catagory like the now mostly unavailible NEC ND-3550A. This is a great drive on the cheap, especially running Liggy & Dee's RPC1 1.Y6 firmware.
April 5, 2007 6:27:02 PM

I have an old Samsung drive that burns DVDs quite well. I cannot imagine that by virtue of being "cheap" that the drive would not do it's intended job. I mean I know you get what you pay for, but nowadays, if you pay $40 for a dvd burner, thats probably going to be a fairly good burner.

It seems as though the problems I have experienced on ANY burner has been with the media, not the burner itself. So buy better media and burn slow if need be. Always worked for me.

Just my 0.02ยข
April 5, 2007 6:44:04 PM

[code:1:D 6362d9b41]There are gems to be found in the below $40.00 catagory like the now mostly unavailible NEC ND-3550A.[/code:1:D 6362d9b41]

I for one lost my liking of that drive. The ones I had were extremely loud, even at idle speed (1-2x). However, I did think they were the greatest until I bought my first LG drive. LG was my first experience with a totally silent drive. It had great read speed and at the time would burn at 8x flawlessly on Ritek, TDK and Sony media.
April 5, 2007 6:53:14 PM

hmm

I was expecting to see drives burning media etc. Seeing which drives are fussy etc.

We all know drives burn discs, and im not burning 1,000,000 discs a day so an extra minute is not a problem for me.

Worth the trouble....what trouble? Trouble to me is when the drive doesnt recognise the media or burn to it, not how long it takes.

As with everyone else, I was expecting to see liteon here. They are one of the biggest makers of drives after all.
a b G Storage
April 5, 2007 7:19:55 PM

How much you get paid for witting articles here? Its too much IMHO.
April 5, 2007 7:57:11 PM

I felt it gave a good overview of drives tho liteon are definitely contenders in the cheap drive war.
However I felt that the review was a little pointless or at least the title was. Those drives are all cheap, the reccomended NEC drive is 25 quid, how much cheaper do you want, it's not like any drive is expensive, just get the fastest NEC and have done with it.
April 5, 2007 8:56:50 PM

I do have one of four that is a little on the loud side, but only at spool up. Have been using them for over a year with maybe only a couple of coasters(less than 1%) using ridata dvd+r media.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817132389

Liggy & Dee's RPC1 1.Y6 firmware upgrade made this great drive even better. :) 
April 5, 2007 9:17:27 PM

My Lite-ON is kick-ass, 20x with Lightscribe.

Tad loud when accessing at first.

~Ibrahim~
April 5, 2007 9:28:10 PM

The test setup information is pathetic. It doesn't matter what computer the drive is hooked up to, so long as it can get the data out quick enough. Tom's reviewers need to get over their hardware fetish and give information on what settings were used in the software. (Reviewers think it's more important to get across "Oooh! Look at us! We've got a Core 2 Extreme, WD Raptors and an X1900XTX!").

How about some more useful tests, like whether the disks burned are actually readable in the drive that burned them (no information on if verification was turned on or not), and whether the drives can read disks burned in other drives. My experience of cheap burners is that they fail to do these things. I've got a half dozen of the damn things stuck in a box. If I want to burn disks I'll use my BenQ DW1620 (chosen after reading clubcdfreaks.com).

What's the point of making back ups at high speed, when there's a good chance the disk is a coaster? Performance isn't everything (although having a drive that can burn 8x disks at 16x with no errors is nice, and worth paying extra for).
a b G Storage
April 5, 2007 9:28:35 PM

Plextor > liteon > a-open > asus > this review.
April 5, 2007 9:53:43 PM

Yeah, This is the perfect example of how Tom's is slipping:

Misleading title - I never spend more than $40 for the DVD burner on any of the PCs I build for people, and the biggest problem or "trouble" any of them have had is they can be a tad bit noisy.

No Lite-On? Thats an egregious oversight for a supposed review of low-end drives. Even if they wouldn't send a sample, they are $40 bucks, shell it out yourselves.

No High-end to compare to as an illustration of the "troubles" referred to in the title?

C'mon guys, you can do better.
a b G Storage
April 5, 2007 10:14:56 PM

Can they?
April 5, 2007 11:18:19 PM

I think the article should have done at least some comparison to the more expensive and better performing burners out there - focusing in a bunch of cheapies alone with similar specs still leaves me thinking if the cost of a more expensive unit is justified. Also, bring in some of the other brands out there.

I would have liked to see a more comprehensive benchmark set as well - there are more than just those three applications out there.

I guess it's time to focus on some EXTERNAL burners now...
April 6, 2007 12:09:03 AM

I bought a pioneer drive a few months back, I'm having problems ripping cd's with copy write protection. it takes more then an hour ripping a cd which my lg drive does in less then 10 minutes. It also has a really slow response time, NEVER buy pioneer, they perform horribly.
April 6, 2007 12:18:52 AM

I was pleased to see an article on cheap DVD burners today, since this afternoon I went out and bought one. I picked the LG line because the review indicated that the drive was extremely quiet. The one I got makes less noise than the Sony $100 DVD burner I got a couple years ago, so I'm happy. I don't care about maximum burning speed since I always burn slower anyway to avoid "coastering" disks. I want my data backups to last, and going slower produces fewer errors.

Speaking of errors, I think there is a lot more to picking out a burner than the read/write speeds. Is there a way to measure number of errors on a disk? It would be good to see some kind of analysis on that. I know DVDs have a lot of data redundancy, but too many errors do lead to lost data and avoiding that is the most important consideration for me when choosing a drive.

I know that any review must have a limited scope, but there are a huge selection of drives to choose from. Looking at the LG lineup at my local store, there were 4 models under CAN$50. This included SATA and IDE interface choices. I found very little information to differentiate between the models, so I just picked one that was both in stock and was a good price. By the way, no current pricing was included in your review. That means that even after reading the article, I'm still missing vital information.

One note that I think needs to be brought up is that most of the graphs don't have units labeled on the axes. This is a huge no-no. I would really like to see reviews take a little more technical approach to things. If you're going to present data, there must be no question as to what the numbers mean.

I like the idea other posters' had about comparing these "cheap" drives to a reference one. Data that I would like to see explicitly presented are read/write speeds (bandwidth and latency), measured noise levels, and error frequency in burned media. It would be good to take one of the drives and show how error frequency changes with different writing speeds.

One last thought I have before closing is that I've had some experiences with bad disks being more readable on one drive than on another. It would be good to see some kind of analysis of which of the tested drives faired best when reading hard-to-read disks.
a b G Storage
April 6, 2007 12:22:26 AM

I dont even consider them a major contender.


Sony/Lite-on/Plextor/Samsung sort of.

Plextor for the best you can buy... Sony for midrange, and Lite-on for budget, though it really is near the quality of sony's drives.



P.S. Sony is the devil and i hate their burners.
April 6, 2007 12:24:47 AM

I gotta agree with phrozt on this one, the author is a complete gorilla, with all that entails.

Take, for example, when trying to combine 7th grade english and math in one sentence:

"DVD ripping speed was clearly too long, as Pioneer and Sony finished the same task 40% faster (11 minutes versus 27 minutes)."

Maybe my Bachelors in Math is failing me here, but isn't 40% of 27 minutes 11? So, to be 40% faster one would need to finish it 11 minutes faster, thus in a time of 16 minutes.

In actuality, the 11 minute drive is 60% faster than the 27 minute drive. Or, to put it another way, the 11 minute drive finished in 40% the time of the 27 minute drive.

Pwned.
April 6, 2007 1:16:26 AM

I have the Samsung SH-S183L. It's alright. It hasn't messed a cd or dvd up yet. I wanted to go with a sata optical drive on this build ( no specific reason, I just did ) and the local store had the Samsung for $40 or a Plextor for $110.

I don't burn that many I need the expensive plextor and it turns out the samsung works pretty good. So it's not the fastest writer, oh well.
April 6, 2007 1:31:33 AM

Im glad someone has had good Lite-ons since I have had 4 of them all went bad quick. One quit reading and writing to cds completely, dvds still work though, 2 just up and died within a week and the last one i had doesnt like to eject discs, goes to open then slams shut. Ive had the samsung sata drive for a couple of months now and no problems yet!
April 6, 2007 2:00:07 AM

Quote:
Im glad someone has had good Lite-ons since I have had 4 of them all went bad quick. One quit reading and writing to cds completely, dvds still work though, 2 just up and died within a week and the last one i had doesnt like to eject discs, goes to open then slams shut. Ive had the samsung sata drive for a couple of months now and no problems yet!


Hehe, I must be lucky. I'm still waiting for proper support under Vista 64-bit for it, however. Nero can only burn DVDs, no Lightscribe.

~Ibrahim~
April 6, 2007 5:31:49 AM

Quote:
Ever heard of constructive criticism?

Only saying even if that is how you feel, putting it that way does nothing but cause anger/hard feelings and does nothing positive. Explain that you would have preferred if he used more brands, etc., and he might actually listen.

Of course, you don't HAVE to take my advice, but if you want people to be influenced by your opinion, give this a try. You'd be surprised that people might actually listen/agree with you.


Constructive criticism takes maturity, the guy is probably on 12 or 13. :roll:
You just got ot ignore the flamers.

Altho Lite-on would have been a good product to review.

Oh and I have two NEC's in my Alienware laptop so someone doesn't seem to be up on the market for NEC products.
a c 152 G Storage
April 6, 2007 5:35:04 AM

Sony drives for the past years where made by Lite-On

it is just recently they started to use NEC and other companies

Cant hate one and not the other.
April 6, 2007 8:48:04 AM

Sorry but that was a disappointing article. Maybe you could rewrite it with some of these suggestions.

I hate to be a killjoy but isn't using any program, (DVD Decrypter etc.) to make an electronic copy of a copyrighted disc illegal. I know it doesn't say what movie you used, which is a lucky thing cause if it was terminator (which you seem to use for everything else) that would be a big no no. Also it says on afterdawn
Quote:
Thus, distributing DVD Decrypter is now as illegal as it would be to distribute cracked copies of Windows operating system or pirated copies of games.


Perhaps you should find a different program for this sort of testing. Also perhaps you should include prices of these "Cheap" DVD burners. It has been said enough, but how the hell am I meant to know the prices of these drives without searching for them myself.

Please spend a little more time writing these articles so that I can actually learn something. Or perhaps actually read and answer to the posts that we write, you might just learn something.
April 6, 2007 9:08:25 AM

Quote:

I hate to be a killjoy but isn't using any program, (DVD Decrypter etc.) to make an electronic copy of a copyrighted disc illegal. I know it doesn't say what movie you used, which is a lucky thing cause if it was terminator (which you seem to use for everything else) that would be a big no no. Also it says on afterdawn Thus, distributing DVD Decrypter is now as illegal as it would be to distribute cracked copies of Windows operating system or pirated copies of games.
Nope, you are still allowed to make backup copies for your own use. This kinda up for ongoing debate though, as my understanding is most copyrights don't explicitly allow this, but they don't prohibit it either. To my knowledge, it has held up in court so far.
April 6, 2007 1:03:06 PM

what a coincidence, i just bought that lg drives yesterday
April 6, 2007 1:46:02 PM

Quote:
STOP WRITING REVIEWS

Crickey, you are HORRIBLE.
- You fail to incorporate one of the newest leading names that people use more and more of everyday: Lite-On.
- You use NEC, which practically no one uses for DVD drives.
- You don't mention price other than bundling thim all as "low end $40 DVD burners."
- You don't use a high end burner as a control for what all the "low end" burners should be trying to achieve.

GO BACK TO 7th GRADE SCIENCE AND LEARN WHAT CONTROL AND VARIABLES ARE


...and often people fail to realize that the word "you" is a fighting word, no matter how much the person is "telling it like it is."
April 6, 2007 3:03:07 PM

Is high performance DVD drive an oxymoron?
April 6, 2007 3:45:05 PM

THIS IS JUST ANOTHER SAMPLE OF WHAT READERS DONT WANT, ANOTHER USELESS REVIEW.


I LOVE LITE ON AND NEVER HAD A PROBLEM WITH IT.IT DOES WHAT THIS BRAND NEW SAMSUNG 18X CANT DO AND THATS READ AND WRITE GOOD.TO SAY LIGHT ON IS THE GOD OF DVD BURNERS IS NOT TRUE OR IS IT.EITHER WAY YOU FAILED TO COMPARE ONE OF THE TOP DVD BURNERS IN THE WORLD,AND IS THAT AN UNDERSTATMENT?NO IT ISINT.IT SEEMS A LACK OF WHAT PEOPLE WANT FROM TOMS HAS LONG SINCE GONE.THE REVIEWS,THE HOW TO,AND WHAT WE REALLY NEED FROM THIS FORM IS JUST A PLACE IN THE PAST.I RARLEY COME HERE ANY MORE JUST BECAUSE WHAT I NEED IS NOT HERE. WHAT WE NEED FROM A REVIEW IS JUST THE BASIC ATLEAST.WHAT PEOPLE DO THE MOST WITH THE HARDWARE THEY BUY,AND IF YOU FIND THE TIME FOR A MORE DETAILED REVIEW WE WOULD LOVE THAT TO.HERES WHAT WE ATLEAST NEED IN A REVIEW OF A BURNER.THE WRITE SPEED OF BOTH CD,DVD.THE RW SPEED OF BOTH.THE THE AUDIO RIP SPEED,AND ISO READ WRITE,THE ERROR TEST AND THE END SPEED OF EVERY DRIVE,AND MOST OF ALL THE PRICE PREFORMANCE RATIO OF THE DRIVES.CD MEADIA,OH YEAH.GO TO OFFICE MAX WHERE THEY SELL ALL THE CHEAP MEADIA IN THE WORLD THAT 99.9 PERCENT OF THE WORLD WILL USE.AND YOU CAN THROW IN SOME HIGHER PRICE MEADIA DISK FOR REVIEWS IF YOU LIKE,BECAUSE THEY ARE SOME PEOPLE THAT WILL USE IT FOR PICTUERS AND VIDEO,BUT THE REST OF US 99.9 ARE STICKING WITH THE GOOD LCHEAPO MEDIA.

PEACE OUT.
April 6, 2007 4:55:47 PM

Alright dude. All that shouting is hurting my ears. Also, consider spaces between sentences.
April 6, 2007 5:03:29 PM

Out of curiosity, does anyone else find my earlier statement to be true in general? I almost never have good results when burning over 8x DVD's or over 12x CDs, no matter what drive/pc/cpu configuration and no matter what media I use. Does high speed burning HAVE to cause problems down the line...always? Anyone have any 16x DVDs burned over a year ago that still work flawlessly??
April 6, 2007 5:14:39 PM

I have another question : since almost all DVD writers are priced around $40, except Plextor drives, is a $40 DVD drive "cheap", or is it the $100 drive that is overpriced ?
April 6, 2007 6:03:05 PM

What bothers me the most about any DVD burner article I have ever read is that they never talk about burn quality. To me thats the most important issue to look at. Much more important on how "fast" or how "quiet" a drive it. reviews like this one and others look like they have been written by Consumer Reports magazine. Horrible. I have 750 movies burned in my collection and I really care how well they are burned. Errors and how long they will last in my collection.
!