DVD-ROM Read Performance and Digital Audio Extraction
The Microsoft DVD Test Annex disc is a two-layer disc with 6.4GB of data. The typical read pattern consists of a slowly-increasing data rate from inner to outer tracks, then a slowly declining data rate after the layer change.
The Plextors transfer rate is simply stunning across the board, while the Pioneer DVR-A07 drive essentially places second, and the Sony DRU-530A hangs right in there. The DRU-530A wins the seek time honors, however, outpacing the PX-712A by a small margin.
If digital audio extraction is one of your main interests, you might want to avoid the AOpen and Toshiba units. All the others are pretty close performance-wise, though the Plextor takes top honors.
DVD Recorder Performance
As we did with the CD recordable tests, we used Nero CD/DVD speed to create test DVDs. The text matrix is a bit more complex, as we need to account for DVD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+R and DVD+R.
The Plextor drive successfully and correctly burned 8x DVD+R media at very high speeds. However, the Nero DVDSpeed utility crashed just as the test completed (even when burning discs at 8x speeds), so we werent able to record a number. Heres what the burn curve looked like for the Plextor when it burned at 12x speeds.
The Pioneer came in second here, with the other drives based on the Pioneer mechanism were not far behind. The Sony drive also performed well on DVD+R media, but lagged a bit behind the leaders in DVD-R burning. All drives were essentially in a dead heat for DVD+RW and DVD-RW burning.
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.