When the first DVD burners came to market, they were exotic beasts costing hundreds of dollars. On top of the steep price tag, the battle waged between the Recordable DVD Council (which supports a DVD-R/-RW standard) and the DVD+RW Alliance (with its competing DVD+R/+RW standard) only served to stymie users further.
While the two groups never really kissed and made up, hardware manufacturers have stepped up to the plate and are offering universal recorders that handle a variety of formats. Iomega even shipped a drive that would burn the somewhat uncommon DVD-RAM format, as we noted in our previous universal drive roundup.
Now that Sony has shipped the first dual layer DVD burner for the PC, its time to revisit the "old" technology of single layer DVD burning. With the price of high-speed, multiformat, single layer burners dropping precipitously, now may be a good time to take the plunge. If you either dont need dual layer burning, or dont want to pay the cost for new dual layer drives and media, then a low-cost, single layer burner may be just the ticket.
So we took a look at a good cross-section of current DVD burners, ranging from the very inexpensive Lite-On 812S to the fast-burning Plextor PlexWriter 712A. We also look at three burners based on a Pioneer-designed mechanism, a drive from AOpen, and the latest Toshiba 8x burner. We compare all of them to the Sony DRU-530A, one of the earliest 8x burners.
First, well examine the drives performance, then take a look at individual features, including software bundles. Finally, well pick the drive or drives we think are best-suited for different users.