Nu Tech is a manufacturer only just formed in May 2003 by Quanta, one of the biggest notebook manufacturers in the business market. The result of this is that the products are considerably less available than with established names. The website (nunuverse.com), however, looks professional and clear, and offers the whole nine yards - from information to firmware updates.
The DDW-81 is a drive of the latest generation and can thus burn DVDs at 8x - although only on DVD+R. It can burn rewriteable DVD+RWs at 4x, a feat otherwise mastered only by the Sony drive. However, the DDW-081 is no multimode device; those interested in it will have to make do with the plus standard.
It writes to a DVD+RW in 23 minutes at 2.4x, slightly slower than the other contestants, but - assuming it has the right disc - can write the same format at 4x as well. That's even minimally faster than writing to the DVD+R.
When reading our scratched test DVD, NU showed its first weakness: 5th Element could not be ripped in full. It read Pink Panther and Cast Away without a complaint, although more slowly than the models from HP, Gigabyte, Mitsumi and Philips. Pioneer, Teac and above all Sony were even slower.
However, it showed its true colors when reading the full range of formats on the video DVD prepared by us: it was able to read all discs within less than 10 minutes and is neck and neck with LG. By comparison, the competitors needed 12 to 15 minutes, and Sony even a weak 27.
In three minutes and four seconds, our test CD was written, which yields the 40x burn speed specified. Gigabyte also supports this speed, but can easily fall below the 3-minute mark.
The DDW-081 can read audio data without any problem, but it is not one of the fastest in this segment: It took about ten minutes to completely grab our test CD and write it to the hard drive. Pioneer and Teac can do that in only two minutes, and even Sony is not far from this top rate.
NU is unbeaten when it comes to handling. The drive needs between 10 and 12 seconds to detect the DVDs after the tray is closed; with CDs it is consistently 10 seconds. This is where the competitors start wearing on your nerves - often it takes 30 seconds to access a DVD. The burner also scored decently on the check with the burned DVD: the DVD+R could be played back in all nine DVD players.