Double-Layer DVD: Lite-On, LG and BenQ


Model DW-1600A SOHW-832S GSA-4120B
Manufacturer BenQ Lite-On LG
Read time, CD 40x 40x 40x
Read time, DVD 16x 12x 16x
Recording speed, CD-R 40x 40x 40x
Recording speed, CD-RW 24x 24x 24x
Recording speed, DVD-R - 8x 8x
Recording speed, DVD+R 16x 8x 12x
Recording speed, DVD-RW - 4x 4x
Recording speed, DVD+RW 4x 4x 4x
Recording speed, DVD+R DL 2.4x 2.4x 2.4x
Data Buffer 2 MB 2 MB 2 MB
Firmware B5A9 VS04 A101

The new generation of DVD burners looks extremely promising. With burning speeds of 16x, you won't have to wait more than six minutes. For anyone who has felt restricted by having only 4.39 GB on a disc, the double layer isn't far off, and it works. But for the moment, you will need to sit around for 45 minutes waiting for a DVD to burn and the cost of media is prohibitive.

In the end it was BenQ's DW-1600A burner that attracted us most with its 16x speed and double-layer burning performance. Its incompatibility with the format is its only defect and this will be corrected in August when the new firmware comes along.

Updating the firmware for DVD burners is very important and must be done systematically. In fact, since the burners have become available before the blank media, some blank DVDs that are 4x or 8x compatible are not recognized as such. A simple update will correct the problem.

A vital question: what is the compatibility of the double layer? The answer is complicated. As explained above, double-layer technology has come close to the maximum specifications of the DVD Forum. But when it comes to producing the first recordable DVDs, compatibility with home DVD players and DVD-ROM drives is not 100%. The equation is simple: the more recent the hardware, the more likely the compatibility rate will be 100%. It's very difficult to give a realistic percentage. Only a test will prove it because drives vary, even within the same model, and it may or may not recognize the medium, depending on the tolerances of the medium's manufacturer.

Although many manufacturers will very soon be offering 12 or 16x in their catalogs, the same is not true of the blank media manufacturers. Large volumes of blank discs compatible with high speeds will no doubt be in the stores by the fall at the very latest. However, some burners will only accept certain blank 8x to 12x DVDs. This is merely a rumor and very difficult to assess because it is happening inconsistently. In other words, "sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't!" The manufacturers themselves are not always forthcoming about compatibility. For the moment, only 8x media are really available in large numbers from the manufacturers. My instinct tells me that if you are looking for 16x's, you might have to wait until the end of the year.

Double-layer discs are becoming increasingly available and are already starting to fill the retail shelves. At the time of writing, Imation, HP and Verbatim were able to supply us with media stamped DVD+R DL. Unlike blank, single-layer DVDs, however, the prices of DLs are more substantial.

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