Final Thoughts

By Loyd Case  |  Posted 2004-05-25 Print this article Print

/What to Buy"> The current crop of single-layer DVD burners runs the gamut from low cost drives with skimpy documentation to the almost over-engineered Plextor PX-712A. Of the drives we tested, we liked the PX-712A for its sheer performance and elegance of operation. But its not a cheap drive, so if you dont need the blistering speed, others are available. Of the three Pioneer-based drives we tested, the Asus stands out as the price/performance leader. It offers a decent software bundle, great compatibility and is only a few dollars above the $100 mark. The Memorex drive offers an attractive appearance at only a few dollars more.
Of the sub-$100 drives, the Lite-On SOHW-812S stands out as a good performer, but the software bundle is sparse. The Toshiba drive just plods along, but probably will do so solidly for years and it comes with the full Nero 6.3 suite. The AOpen drive seems a little quirky in its behavior, but certainly is capable, although the software bundle seems a little dated.
We should also add that the Sony DRU-530A still acquits itself very well, especially with the new firmware update. Its certainly on our recommended list for single layer burners. At around a $120-125 street price, its a good performer for the price. So, the bottom line is that if you want raw performance and some terrific amenities--and are willing to pay for them--the PX-712A from Plextor is the right choice. On the other hand, the Asus DRW-0804P offers Pioneers quality mechanism at a fairly low price. We liked the Memorex and Pioneer drives, too, but they do cost a bit more. Lastly, the Sony DRU-530A is still a contender, offering a good blend of price, performance, and aesthetics.

Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

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