As you can see from this review, problems continue in terms of media availability for DVD writers - perhaps more than ever. To burn write-once DVDs, you have no choice but to go with DVD+R if you want to take advantage of the highest writing speeds - it'll take a little more than five minutes to burn a disc with the SDR-5472 from Toshiba. For rewritable DVDs, speeds remain limited to 4x for both standards (- and +) but DVD+RW still manages shorter burn times. The NEC was the winner here, at a little over 14 minutes, but the Toshiba took only three seconds longer.
As for dual-layer writing, there's no contest, since we weren't even able to find DVD-R DL media available for sale. You'll have to settle for DVD+R DL. The Sony writer came out on top with a burn time of a little over fifteen minutes.
Of all the units we tested for this article, two models had the best overall performance: the NEC ND-3540A and the Toshiba SDR-5472. The Toshiba is actually slightly ahead, but unfortunately it is not yet available on the market. Also, we need to make clear that the differences in performance between writers were slight, about thirty seconds at the most. The exception is in the case of dual-layer burning, where the Sony came out nearly seven minutes ahead of the competition! Still, who's interested in burning to dual-layer when the price of two single-layer DVDs is well below the cost of one dual-layer?
Once again we note that speeds shown on the box and in the technical specs are purely theoretical. Makers should be honest with us and change statements like "Writes at 16x" to "Writes at up to 16x." And maybe add this disclaimer: "Your mileage may vary"...