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This story was printed from CdrInfo.com,
located at http://www.cdrinfo.com.
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Appeared on: Tuesday, December 20, 2005
SONY DW-Q30A


1. Introduction

Sony is one of the largest manufacturers worldwide and its name is synonymous with reliability and quality, after all it's a Sony. Lately, most of Sony's optical drives are OEM from various other manufacturers such as Optorite in the past, LiteOn mostly but also BenQ. This time we received the DW-Q30A which is an OEM SHW-1635S.

Sony claims that this drive is mostly for B2B customers, such as semi-professional users who don't require the additional bundled items in the retail package and is fine balance between price and content.

- Features

- High Speed Dual Layer DVD-RW drive
- Read and write compatible with all major DVD media formats, including: -R, +R (single and dual layer) and -RW and +RW (single layer)
- Up to 8X recording speed on DVD+R dual layer discs and up to 16X on the single layer DVD recordable discs
- Buffer Under Run protection features for smooth, reliable writing
- Turbo boost safety feature 9change from 40X to maximum speed)
- CD-R/RW capability as ultra combo drive
- Internal ATAPI drive for installation in a Microsoft Windows operating system environment
- OEM models are available in Pearl White, Black, White, Grey and Silver

- Specifications

Below are the main specs for the DW-Q30A from Sony.

Write Speed 8x DVD+R DL, 4x DVD-R DL, 16x DVD+R, 16x DVD-R, 8x DVD+RW, 6x DVD-RW, 48x CD-R, 24x CD-RW
Read Speed 16x DVD-ROM, 48x CD (max)
Buffer Memory 2MB
Dimensions (mm) 145.8 x 41.8 x 165 (W x H x D)
Weight 900g
Mounting Horizontal or Vertical
Power DC 5V +/-5%, 12V +/-10% (Supply Voltage)
Interface ATAPI

Below are the specs for the drive as given by NeroInfoTool and DVDInfoPro:

- Nero InfoTool

The RPC II region control is used, allowing the user to change the drive's region no more than five times. This is however is something that can be disabled, of which you'll learn more of in the following pages.

- DVD InfoPro

- The Package

We received the white blazed Sony DW-Q30A.

The package includes:

- The internal ATAPI recorder
- Screws (4)
- Warranty Card
- User Guide
- Nero Express Mastering software
- Nero Packet Writing InCD software
- Nero Jukebox Media player
- Nero Toolik (Drive Tool Utility software)

- Front panel view

The sample we received was white.

- Rear panel view

On the rear panel you will find the power input, IDE connector, IDE master/slave/cs selector pins, and the analogue and digital audio outputs (SPDIF).

We don't recommend removing the drive's cover, since this will void the warranty. Instead, you can take a look at the drive's electronics by clicking on the image below for a larger and more detailed view.

The drive uses the same Mediatek MT1888E chipset as the LiteOn SHW-1635S model.

Picture of Sony DW-Q30A

Picture of LiteOn SHW-1635S

- Installation

The drive came with the YYS2 firmware release which happens to be the latest one, so no further flashing was needed. It was identified as "SONY DVD RW DW-Q30A " under WinXP. Below is a screenshot from Nero Burning Rom's specs for the drive.

Throughout this review and for the sake of comparison, we will be posting the Q30A test results along with the results from two other drives, the NEC ND-4551A and the Philips DVDR1648P.


2. Reading Tests

- CD Format

For our CD transfer rate (reading) tests, we used the Nero CDSpeed utility and a set of both Pressed and CDR media. Let's take a look at how the Sony drive performed compared with the other two drives.

Note that you have to press the eject button for a few seconds, until the drive's activity led blinks twice, in order to set the drive to 48X reading speed. This is a procedure you'll have to repeat each time you open/close the drive's tray, otherwise it reverts back to 40X.

All drives support the same maximum reading speed for the CD format, that of 48X. Their performance as reported by CDSpeed was similar with the SONY drive being a little faster.

Despite boasting 48X reading speed, the Sony drive seems to could only manage 34.6X maximum reading speed with RW media.

- AudioCD

For this tests we used a pressed AudioCD and its copy on a CD-R.

When reading AudioCDs, the NEC drive supports 40X DAE speed while the Philips and SONY 48X. All drives managed a perfect score of 100 in Nero's Advanced DAE Quality Test.

Below is the graph of 90min test disc which we stopped trying to play/rip due to the very slow speed of 0.8X~1X.

The Q30A failed to read the 99min test disc and it reported an error just before the end of the disc.

- DVD Format

Now let's have a look at how the drive performs with DVD media. Again, a set of DVD media was used, both SL and DL.

 

Same specifications for all drives and hence, similar performance. All reached the 16X maximum reading speed.

The two layers of a PTP DVD-ROM disc are read sequentially with the drive starting reading from the inner part of the disc, which is the beginning of each layer, progressing towards its outer range. NEC and Philips reported similar performance, with 12X support, while the SONY supports up to 8X.

The first layer of an OTP dual layer DVD-ROM is read exactly the same way as the first layer of the PTP disc we tested previously, the main difference being the reading strategy of the second layer on the disc. The beginning of the second layer is located in the outer part of the disc, so the drive starts reading from the outer tracks towards the inner part of the disc. Again, the Sony drive supports up to 8X reading.

The supported reading speeds for DVD±RW are the same for all tested drives. In the case of DVD±R, the NEC is the fastest since it supports 16X while the SONY and Philips drives support 12X for the same formats.

Average ripping performance from the Sony and NEC drives. Only the Philips drive offers a high ripping transfer rate.

-Appendix

Nero CD-DVD Speed Graphs

CD Pressed / CD-R / US-RW / AudioCD / AudioCD-R

DVD Pressed SL / DVD Pressed DL PTP / DVD Pressed DL OTP / DVD-R / DVD-RW / DVD+R / DVD+RW


3. CD Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we check the drive's behavior when reading scratched / defective audio discs. The test discs used were the ABEX series from ALMEDIO.

- ABEX TCD-721R

Errors total Num: 2305532
Errors (Loudness) dB(A) Num: 55116 Avg: -67.8 dB(A) Max: -10.2 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples Num: 5723 Avg: 1.1 Samples Max: 21 Samples
Skips Samples Num: 0 Avg: 0.0 Samples Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result 76.1 points (out of 100.0 maximum)
C2 Accuracy 66.4 %

Looking at the above graph and table, the error correction of the Q30A with the specific test disc was average. The total error count is very high with quite a few muted samples. There are also quite a few high level spikes with the maximum reaching -10.0 dB(A). Fortunately, no samples were skipped. The total test result is about average while the C2 accuracy score is low.

- ABEX TCD-726

Errors total Num: 60
Errors (Loudness) dB(A) Num: 11 Avg: -85.0dB(A) Max: -76.7 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples Num: 0 Avg: 0.0 Samples Max: 0 Samples
Skips Samples Num: 0 Avg: 0.0 Samples Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result 93.2 points (out of 100.0 maximum)
C2 Accuracy 100.0 %

The 726 test media dose not usually present many problems with the majority of the tested drives. The Sony drive's performance with this disc was not perfect but it was good nonetheless.

- CD-Check Audio Test Disc

The CD-Check Test Disc is a very useful tool for evaluating the Sound Reproduction / Error correction capabilities of a CD player. The disc offers a signal combination with disc error patterns to rate the drive's abilities to read music and reproduce it completely. Five tracks on the disc contain a sequence of progressively more difficult tests. These tracks are referred to as Check Level-1 through Check Level-5.

The tracks are reproduced through a software multimedia player (i.e. Windows Media Player). Each level is considered as passed, if the tone is smooth, continuous without interruptions, skipping or looping. The higher the Check Level passed, the more reliable the sound reproduction of the tested drive.

Error Level 1 2 3 4 5
SONY DW-Q30A
5/5 5/5 5/5 0/5 0/5

With this test disc, the drive reported average performance, achieving flawless reading with 3 out of 5 tracks.

- Summary

The SONY drive is an average drive when it comes to CD error correction.


4. DVD Error Correction Tests

In the following tests, we check the DVD reading capabilities of the SONY DW-Q30 with scratched / defective DVD media. For our tests, we used CDVD Benchmark and Nero CDSpeed . The reference test media comes from ALMEDIO.

- Single Layer media
ABEX TDR-821

This is a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM with a 4.7GB capacity, and its surface has an artificial scratch varying in dimensions from 0.4 to 3.0 mm.

The following transfer rate picture comes from the CDVD Benchmark v1.21 transfer rate test.

A very smooth and steady reading graph. Excellent performance.

ABEX TDR-825

This is also a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM of 4.7GB capacity. The data structure of the disc is exactly the same as that of the TDR-821, the only difference being that there are no scratches on it. Instead, there are defective areas, ranging in dimensions from 0.5 to 1.1 mm.

There are also fingerprints sized between 65 and 75 micrometers.

In this case there were some hiccups at the start of the disc and then at the start of the second defect area where the reading speed was reduced from 12X down to 4X. However, no errors were reported and the process finished successfully.

- Dual Layer media

ABEX TDR-841

This is an 8.5GB dual layer single sided DVD-ROM disc with artificial scratches ranging in dimensions from 0.4 to 3.0mm, on both layers.

The scratches on this particular test disc are not a problem for the Q30A drive.

ABEX TDR-845

The disc is a single sided, dual layer DVD-ROM disc of a 8.5GB capacity. The only difference between the TDR-845 and the TDR-841 is that the former includes defective areas and fingerprints.

The dimensions of the defective areas range from 0.5 to 1.1 mm and the fingerprints are sized from 65 to 75 micro meters.

Good performance with a near smooth graph. Again, no errors were reported. The only speed drops occurred at the same spot in both layers, at the start of the fingerprint defects.

ABEX TDV-541

The TDV-541 is a single sided, dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc, with a capacity of 8.5GB. The disc is based on the TDV-540 series which was designed to inspect and adjust DVD-VIDEO players. The disc checks the layer switch operation from layer 0 to layer 1 and also includes test pictures and test signals on DVD sound files.

The current TDV-541 also checks the error correcting capabilities of the drive. It also includes scratches from 0.4 to 3.0 mm.

Very good error correction, without any deviations in speed.

ABEX TDV-545

The TDV-545 disc is based on the TDV-540 series. It is a single sided, dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc with a capacity of 8.5GB. The TDV-545 includes artificial black dots on the data surface, sized from 0.4 to 1.0 mm. It has also 65 - 75 micro metre fingerprints.

Excellent reading from the SONY drive. The artificial dots and fingerprints were no problem for the drive's error correction mechanism.

- Summary

Overall, DVD error correction from the SONY DW-Q30A drive is quite good.


5. Protected Disc Tests

At this point we will check the drive's ability to read and backup protected CDs.

- AudioCD protections

For the test procedure we used three audio discs with different audio copy protections. The ripping process on all protected Audio discs was carried out with Exact Audio Copy v0.9 beta5.

The protected Audio discs tested, were:

Audio Discs Protection
Celine Dion - New Day Has Come Sony's Key2Audio
Natalie Imbruglia - White Lilies Island Cactus Data Shield 200
Aiko Katsukino - The Love Letter Cactus Data Shield 200.0.4 - 3.0 build 16a

The Cactus Data Shield 200, contains artificial errors that are not easily bypassed by the reader, while the Key2Audio contains a second session causing problems to readers when trying to read the Table Of Contents (TOC).

*Cactus Data Shield 200.0.4 - 3.0 build 16a (Aiko Katsukino - The Love Letter)
This is a "special" CDS200 build, since it doesn't contain any artificial errors which create problems during the ripping process. Most problems occur when trying to write the ripped wav files, since the produced CD-R disc contains C2 and CU errors! This "problem" is rumored to be connected to specific chipset weaknesses.

The tested tasks are:

- Recognition of the inserted disc (Yes/No).

- Ripping all wav files(with EAC's Burst Mode) to the hard disk through copy&compare function.

- Listening to the produced wav files to detect any possible click/skips.

The drive recognized up to the 12th Audio track in the CDS200 disc,

and with the "Retr ieve Native TOC" option removed, the drive recognized the 13th track.

The test results are shown in the following table:

Sony DW-Q30A
Key2Audio
CDS200
CDS 200.0.4 - 3.0 build 16a
Ripping process completed, EAC reports no problems, Read&Test CRC comparison successful for all tracks

The Sony DW-Q30A managed to read/rip all of the above AudioCD protections without any problem.

- Games Protections

To create the image of the various protected titles in the hard disk, we used Alcohol 120% software and the appropriate settings, in accordance with the protection type of the inserted discs. Below you can see the duration of each process as well as the transfer rate in each case.

With SecuROM, ripping was fairly quick with the SONY drive. In the case of Safedisc and PSX protections, although it reported the highest transfer rate among the three drives in case of SD, performance is still slow.

- Writing Tests

The Sony DW-Q30A supports the DAO-RAW writing mode. To check the drive's EFM correction status we used 5 different game titles with different SafeDisc 2 versions, having the latest software patches installed. After making the images of the various titles onto the hard disk, we burned them (at maximum speed) with Alcohol 120% v1.9.2.3105. Two different discs were recorded for each title; one with the "Rectify Sub-Channel Data" enabled and one with the function disabled.

- Fifa 2004 - Safe Disc v3.1x

- The Sims Superstar - Safe Disc v2.9x

The drive failed to create working backups of the above tested games.


6. CD Recording Tests

- CD-R Format

The drive supports 8X, 16X, 24X, 32X and 40X (CAV) writing speeds, as they were reported in Nero Burning Rom.

However, if you keep the eject button pressed for a few seconds, until the activation led blinks twice, the drive will change to 48X maximum. Note that this is a procedure you'll have to repeat each and every time you open and close the drive's tray, otherwise it reverts back to 40X.

We used Nero CDSpeed in order to check the drive's writing strategy at maximum speed. The reported average speed when recording at 40X is 32.47X.

- CD-R Recording Times

We created an 80min data compilation with Nero Burning Rom and recorded it on a 700MB disc. The writing performance varies according to the inserted media. Below is a chart depicting all recording times with various media. All media we tried were burned at 40X and the reported times are almost the same with all brands.

The SONY drive's best CD writing time of 2:59min with Intenso media, is very good for 40X recording. NEC, which supports 48X, reported a slower time of 3:05min.

- Other features

According to Nero's CDSpeed and its overburning simulation test, the SONY drive is capable of recording 101min on a CD. Note that this test is done with a 99min disc. No such overburning is possible on an 80min CD, while not many drives can write to 99min discs.

- CD-RW Format

The DW-Q30A supports 16X and 24X rewriting speeds with Ultra Speed Rewritable Media (US-RW).

Below you can see the Nero CD-DVD Speed writing simulation test with blank 24X US-RW media from Mitsubishi Chemicals.

The drive, when recording at 24X, reported an average writing speed of 22.49X.


7. CD Writing Quality - Plextools

We measured the C1 / C2 error rate on the recorded discs we burned at the various supported writing speeds. The software we used is the latest PleXTools Professional, and in particular the built-in Q-Check utility. The Plextor PX-716A was the reader.

BenQ 80min 52X @ 40X

Intenso 80min 52X @ 40X

MMore 80min 52X @ 40X

TY 80min 48X @ 40X

Traxdata 80min 52X @ 40X

- Summary

The CD writing quality, according to Plextools, was very good only in the case of MMore. In all other cases, there were a few C2 errors, while in the case of Taiyo Yuden media, the C1 error levels were extremely high.


8. CD Writing Quality - Clover System
Untitled Document

The Clover System CDX Compact Disc Analyzer is a high-speed tool to quantitatively measure the quality of a CD. It will analyze CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, CD-I, CD-R, Photo-CD, Enhanced CD and CD-RW discs at 4X, 8X, 24X, 32X or 40X speeds. It effectively measures disc quality by examining the quantity and severity of CIRC errors generated during playback. It also provides the capability to measure signal parameters related to pit geometry, such as asymmetry and reflectivity. When put together, all these facts provide a thorough analysis of disc quality. The Clover System Analyzers can also perform various format-checking tests on data discs, and do bit-for-bit data comparison on all types of CDs. All tests are carried out at a maximum speed of 40X.

CIRC error correction uses two principles to detect and correct errors. The first is redundancy (extra information is added, which gives an extra chance to read the disc), and the second is interleaving (data is distributed over a relatively large physical area). The CIRC error correction used in CD players uses two stages of error correction, the well known C1 and C2, with de-interleaving of the data between the stages.

The error type E11 means one bad symbol was corrected in the C1 stage. E21means two bad symbols were corrected in the C1 stage. E31 means that there were three or more bad symbols at the C1 stage. This block is uncorrectable at the C1 stage, and is passed to the C2 stage. Respectively, E12 means one bad symbol was corrected in the C2 stage and E22 means two bad symbols were corrected in the C2 stage. E32 means that there were three or more bad symbols in one block at the C2 stage, and therefore this error is not correctable.

BLER (Block Error Rate) is defined as the number of data blocks per second that contain detectable errors, at the input of the C1 decoder. Since this is the most general measurement of the quality of a disc, you will find BLER graphs for all media tested below. If you click on the images you can see a more detailed table, indicating error levels. The Red Book specification (IEC 908) calls for a maximum BLER of 220 per second averaged over ten seconds. Discs with higher BLER are likely to produce uncorrectable errors. Al low BLER shows that the system as a whole is performing well, and the pit geometry is good. However, BLER only tells us how many errors were generated per second, and it does not tell us anything about the severity of those errors.

BenQ 80min 52X @ 48X

Intenso 80min 52X @ 48X

MMore 80min 52X @ 48X

Traxdata 80min 52X @ 48X

TY 80min 52X @ 32X

- Summary

The recording behavior of the drive at 40X as we saw in the previous page with Plextools, is also confirmed here. The Taiyo Yuden disc has numerous errors, although they are correctable, while MMore media offered the best quality.


9. DVD Recording Tests

- Writing Performance

Now we will check the burning performance with DVD media. Below, the available writing speed list can be seen, as reported by Nero Burning Rom.

Using Nero CDSpeed with DVD-R and DVD+R media, we are able to see the 16X writing strategy of the SONY burner.

- DVD+R media @ 16X CAV

- DVD-R media @ 16X CAV

The drive supports 16X CAV strategy for both DVD+R and DVD-R formats. Click on the images above for the complete CDSpeed screen.

- Burning Tests

For our tests we used the media in following tables.

DVD-R media

The writing times were good from the SONY burner, which managed to record at 16X speed in less than 6 minutes for all media, with the exception of PRODISCF02, where although it reported successful burning at 16X, the time resembles 8X rather than 16X. It seemed as though the drive had to slow down in speed, in order to prevent the disc from being wasted. We didn't notice any overspeeding even with recognized media.

The compatibility list for 16X DVD+R media seems to be quite large for the Q30A. With all of the discs we tried, we didn't notice any recording speed lower than the disc's certified.

- Comparison with other drives

There is not a lot to comment about here other than very good times from the SONY drive (the lower the better).

- DVD Overburning Tests

The SONY DW-Q30A cannot overburn with DVD media.


10. DVD Writing Quality - Page 1

In order to test the writing quality and readability of the burned media we used two readers equipped with two software applications:

- The LiteON SOHD-167T with patched firmware being able to read DVD5 up to 16X CAV and DVD9 up to 10X CAV. For the transfer rate tests we used the latest Nero CDSpeed version.

- The Plextor PX-716A with the latest available firmware. For scanning the disc, we used the latest PlexTools version at 2X CLV reading speed, BURST mode, with middle accuracy.

In general, a "perfect" disc should have a smooth reading curve, very low PIE/POE and zero (0) POF error rates. Most times however, even though a disc has very low PIE/POE error rates, the reading curve may not be smooth containing dropoffs. Due to the fact that we oversped the reading capabilities of the LiteON SOHD-167T, such drops are expected, especially near the outer area of the disc.

The measurements below should not be taken as the absolute criterion of the burning quality, but as an indication level.

16X DVD+R Writing Speed

- BenQ 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- CMC Magnetics 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Mitsubishi Chemicals 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- MMore 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Optodisc 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Philips 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Prodisc 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Prodisc 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Ricoh 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Ridisc 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Traxdata 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Summary

The writing quality depends on the disc, something common to most burners. There are cases where the SONY burner reported excellent writing quality, such as with Mitsubishi Chemicals, MMore, Prodisc and Ricoh media. In the case of CMC Magnetics and Optodisc, the quality is bad while with the rest of the media, average. We should not forget that the drive was tested with the one and only firmware available at the time of its release. We are pretty confident that Sony will improve the performance with specific media in a new firmware release.


11. DVD Writing Quality - Page 2

In order to test the writing quality and readability of the burned media we used two readers equipped with two software applications:

- The LiteON SOHD-167T with patched firmware being able to read DVD5 up to 16X CAV and DVD9 up to 10X CAV. For the transfer rate tests we used the latest Nero CDSpeed version.

- The Plextor PX-716A with the latest available firmware. For scanning the disc, we used the latest PlexTools version at 2X CLV reading speed, BURST mode, with middle accuracy.

In general, a "perfect" disc should have a smooth reading curve, very low PIE/POE and zero (0) POF error rates. Most times however, even though a disc has very low PIE/POE error rates, the reading curve may not be smooth containing dropoffs. Due to the fact that we oversped the reading capabilities of the LiteON SOHD-167T, such drops are expected, especially near the outer area of the disc.

The measurements below should not be taken as the absolute criterion of the burning quality, but as an indication level.

8X DVD+R Writing Speed

- BenQ 8X DVD+R @ 8X

- Datawrite 8X DVD+R @ 8X

- Maxell 8X DVD+R @ 8X

- MMore 8X DVD+R @ 8X

- Optodisc 8X DVD+R @ 8X

- Prodisc 8X DVD+R @ 8X

- Ricoh 8X DVD+R @ 8X

- Taiyo Yuden 8X DVD+R @ 8X

- Traxdata 8X DVD+R @ 8X

- Summary

Very low error levels and smooth CDSpeed graphs with all of the above tested discs. Excellent writing quality. It seems that the DW-Q30A has no problems at all when recording at 8X with DVD+R media.


12. DVD Writing Quality - Page 3

In order to test the writing quality and readability of the burned media we used two readers equipped with two software applications:

- The LiteON SOHD-167T with patched firmware being able to read DVD5 up to 16X CAV and DVD9 up to 10X CAV. For the transfer rate tests we used the latest Nero CDSpeed version.

- The Plextor PX-716A with the latest available firmware. For scanning the disc, we used the latest PlexTools version at 2X CLV reading speed, BURST mode, with middle accuracy.

In general, a "perfect" disc should have a smooth reading curve, very low PIE/POE and zero (0) POF error rates. Most times however, even though a disc has very low PIE/POE error rates, the reading curve may not be smooth containing dropoffs. Due to the fact that we oversped the reading capabilities of the LiteON SOHD-167T, such drops are expected, especially near the outer area of the disc.

The measurements below should not be taken as the absolute criterion of the burning quality, but as an indication level.

16X DVD-R Writing Speed

- BenQ 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- Mitsubishi Chemicals 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- Optodisc 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- Philips 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- Prodisc 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- Prodisc 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- Traxdata 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- Summary

The writing quality with DVD-R media at 16X is better than with DVD+R media, according to our tests. All the above discs were burned with high quality, with the exception of BenQ media where the SONY drive needs improvement.


13. DVD Writing Quality - Page 4

In order to test the writing quality and readability of the burned media we used two readers equipped with two software applications:

- The LiteON SOHD-167T with patched firmware being able to read DVD5 up to 16X CAV and DVD9 up to 10X CAV. For the transfer rate tests we used the latest Nero CDSpeed version.

- The Plextor PX-716A with the latest available firmware. For scanning the disc, we used the latest PlexTools version at 2X CLV reading speed, BURST mode, with middle accuracy.

In general, a "perfect" disc should have a smooth reading curve, very low PIE/POE and zero (0) POF error rates. Most times however, even though a disc has very low PIE/POE error rates, the reading curve may not be smooth containing dropoffs. Due to the fact that we oversped the reading capabilities of the LiteON SOHD-167T, such drops are expected, especially near the outer area of the disc.

The measurements below should not be taken as the absolute criterion of the burning quality, but as an indication level.

8X DVD-R Writing Speed

- 3A 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- BenQ 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- Bulkpaq 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- Datawrite 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- MMore 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- Prodisc 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- Prodisc 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- Ridisc Red 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- Summary

Overall, good writing quality at 8X with DVD-R media, but some further improvement would be welcome.


14. DVD Writing Quality - Page 5

In order to test the writing quality and readability of the burned media we used two readers equipped with two software applications:

- The LiteON SOHD-167T with patched firmware being able to read DVD5 up to 16X CAV and DVD9 up to 10X CAV. For the transfer rate tests we used the latest Nero CDSpeed version.

- The Plextor PX-712A with the latest available firmware. For scanning the disc, we used the latest PlexTools version at 2X CLV reading speed, BURST mode, with middle accuracy.

In general, a "perfect" disc should have a smooth reading curve, very low PIE/POE and zero (0) POF error rates. Most times however, even though a disc has very low PIE/POE error rates, the reading curve may not be smooth containing dropoffs. Due to the fact that we oversped the reading capabilities of the LiteON SOHD-167T, such drops are expected, especially near the outer area of the disc.

The measurements below should not be taken as the absolute criterion of the burning quality, but as an indication level.

DVD+RW and DVD-RW Media

- MKM 8X DVD+RW @ 8X

- MKM 6X DVD-RW @ 6X

- Traxdata 6X DVD-RW @ 6X

- Summary

The RW writing quality is rather good with all the media we tested.


15. DVD Writing Quality - Almedio

The AEC-1000 consists of a DVD Drive and the "ALChecker" error measurement application which can check the written data quality. The application is capable of 1X CLV measurement as well as 4X CLV on DVD-Video/ROM and finalized DVD+R/-R media.

There are three measurement modes:

- Fine Mode: checks a series of eight consecutive ECC blocks,

- Rough Mode: checks eight consecutive ECC blocks every 100h ECC blocks

- Quick Mode: checks three specified areas

The checking status is shown graphically in real time while you can save the error graph at the end of the test. The reported errors are the PI and the UncPO. The PI counts the number of rows corrected by the PI error correction in each group of eight consecutive ECC blocks. The UncPO counts the number of ECC blocks in which more than one bytes are uncorrectable in eight consecutive ECC blocks. For our quality scans, we set for 1X CLV and Fine Mode which is the slowest and produces the safest results. Also, we chose to measure all the media burned at the maximum available writing speed, namely 16X.

- BenQ 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- CMC Magnetics 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Optodisc 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Mitsubishi Chemicals 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- Traxdata 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- Prodisc 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- Summary

The Almedio AEC-1000 error checker, confirmed the average to bad writing quality with specific media as we saw with Plextools. We hope a new firmware release will fix this...


16. DVD+R DL - Page 1

- Writing Tests

We burned some DVD+R DL and DVD-R DL discs with data content. For this task, we used "Create Data Disc" from Nero CDSpeed in order to fully burn the discs.

Mitsubishi Chemicals DVD+R DL 8X

The specific DL disc from Mitsubishi Chemicals is certified for 8X burning, one of the few if not the only one. According to the graph, the writing strategy is Z-CLV. The reported time of 17:03min is quite fast and is due to the fact that writing at 8X is done over the greater part of the disc's surface.

Mitsubishi Chemicals DVD-R DL 4X

This disc, according to the manufacturer, is certified for 4X recording, the speed that the SONY drive burned it at. The writing strategy here is CLV.

Traxdata DVD-R DL 4X

The specific disc is certified for 4X writing and it was burned at that speed by the SONY drive. According to CDSpeed, the writing strategy was the CLV.


17. DVD+R DL - Page 2

- Writing Quality

In order to test the writing quality and readability of the burned media we used two readers equipped with two software applications:

- The LiteON SOHD-167T with patched firmware being able to read DVD5 up to 16X CAV and DVD9 up to 10X CAV. For the transfer rate tests we used the latest Nero CDSpeed version.

- The Plextor PX-716A with the latest available firmware. For scanning the disc, we used the latest PlexTools version at 2X CLV reading speed, BURST mode, with middle accuracy.

In general, a "perfect" disc should have a smooth reading curve, very low PIE/POE and zero (0) POF error rates. Most times however, even though a disc has very low PIE/POE error rates, the reading curve may not be smooth containing dropoffs. Due to the fact that we oversped the reading capabilities of the LiteON SOHD-167T, such drops are expected, especially near the outer area of the disc.

The measurements below should not be taken as the absolute criterion of the burning quality, but as an indication level.

- Verbatim DVD+R DL 8X @ 8X

- MKM DVD-R DL 4X @ 6X

- Traxdata DVD-R DL 4X @ 4X

The writing quality with DL media is good in the case of Mitsubishi Chemicals media, with a slight glitch at the layer change. In the case of Traxdata media, the drive needs improvement since the disc failed in both CDSpeed and Plextools.


18. BookType Setting

BookType setting is a "must" which all latest model burners released on the market today should be equipped with.

The drive by default is set to DVD-ROM for DVD+R DL, and this cannot be changed. For DVD+R and DVD+RW, the default setting remains the same as the disc's format, but this time it can be changed to DVD-ROM. With the help of some helpful utilities, you can change the booktype. Below you can see some screenshots from DVDInfoPro and Nero CD/DVD Speed. Both can be used to change the default booktype setting of the Sony DW-Q30A.


19. DW-Q30A vs SA300 - Page 1

For checking exactly what the SONY DW-Q30A reports, we used three different media, burned with other recorders. The three media have been measured with the well known AudioDev SA300 DVD CATS system at 1X.

The drive is capable of reporting PI/PIF errors, so we will compare those measurements at 4X reading speed.

Please note that the posted results are only valid for the specific tested SONY DW-Q30A drive. Using other drives, even another SONY DW-Q30A, can produce totally different results. Be aware!

#2nd Test Disc - PISum8/PIF Comparison - 4X Reading speed


Click on the image for details

If you ignore the absolute values, the error trend lines are quite similar for PI errors but not for PIF.


20. DW-Q30A vs SA300 - Page 2

For checking exactly what the SONY DW-Q30A, we used three different media, burned with other recorders. The three media have been measured with the well known AudioDev SA300 DVD CATS system at 1X.

The drive is capable of reporting PI/PIF errors, so we will compare those measurements at 4X reading speed.

Please note that the posted results are only valid for the specific tested SONY DW-Q30A drive. Using other drives, even another SONY DW-Q30A, can produce totally different results. Be aware!

#2nd Test Disc - PISum8/PIF Comparison - 4X Reading speed


Click on the image for details

Once again, the error trend lines are similar for PI errors but not for PIF.


21. DW-Q30A vs SA300 - Page 3

For checking exactly what the SONY DW-Q30A, we used three different media, burned with other recorders. The three media have been measured using the well known AudioDev SA300 DVD CATS system at 1X.

The drive is capable of reporting PI/PIF errors, so we will compare those measurements at 4X reading speed.

Please note that the posted results are only valid for the specific tested SONY DW-Q30A drive. Using other drives, even another SONY DW-Q30A, can produce totally different results. Be aware!

#3rd Test Disc - PISum8/PIF Comparison - 4X Reading speed


Click on the image for details

No similarity between the two graphs produced by the SA300 and the SONY DW-Q30A.


22. DW-Q30A vs SA300 - Page 4
For checking exactly what the SONY DW-Q30A reports, we used four different media, burned with other recorders. The three media have been measured with the well known AudioDev SA300 DVD CATS system at 1X.

The drive is capable of reporting PI/PIF errors, so we will compare those measurements at 4X reading speed.

Please note that the posted results are only valid for the specific tested SONY DW-Q30A drive. Using other drives, even another SONY DW-Q30A, can produce totally different results. Be aware!

#1st Test Disc - PISum8/PIF Comparison - 8X Reading speed


Click on the image for details

As you can easily see in the graphs above, the error trend line follows the same pattern as the CATS system's scans, but values are at a different scale.


23. Firmware Hacks
Since the drive is based on Mediatek's chipset, or better still, is a LiteOn OEM, the RPC region control can be easily disabled and the drive made region free.

Unfortunately, at the time of the review, we were not able to read the drive's firmware with Omnipatcher in order to see its media support list and modify its writing or reading ability.


24. Conclusion

A new SONY burner is always going to arouse interest, mostly because we are curious see which OEM drive SONY has chosen to stick its label on. This time, the DW-Q30A is an OEM LiteOn SHW-1635S, a dual 16X DVD burner with 8X DVD+R DL and 4X DVD-R DL support. As for the DVD±RW formats, the maximum supported speeds are 8X for the DVD+RW and 6X for the DVD-RW.

For the CD format, the drive supports reading speeds of 48X with CD-R and 32X with US-RW media. For 48X reading, you'll have to keep the eject button pressed for a few seconds, until the activation led blinks twice, in order for the drive to set the 48X reading speed. You'll need to do this each and every time you open and close the tray. We really cannot see the benefit of such a feature, if indeed it is a feature. According to our error correction tests, the drive reported typical to average performance. This is however, something which changes with the DVD format. The DVD error correction is rather good, but the maximum DVD reading speed is set to 12X for DVD±RW media and 8X with DVD±R DL, not something to write home about since there are already a number of drives that support 16X and 12X for DVD±RW and DVD±R DL media respectively. The drive won't read 90/99min CDs but its DAE speed is good and its performance in Nero's Advanced DAE quality test even better.

AudioCD protection is not a problem for the SONY DW-Q30A drive, which managed to rip all of our test discs. In contrast, if you are looking for a drive which will help you make working backups of your favorite protected games, especially Safedisc protection, the SONY drive isn't going to be much help. It may be able to backup older versions such as v2.8 and earlier, but there are not many games using those versions any more.

One of the most important things with a burner, if not the most important, is its writing performance with CD and DVD media. In the case of CDs, the drive performed fast, needing approximately 3:00min to fully burn an 80min CD at 40X. The quality, as was reported by Plextools and Clover System, was good with MMore media, bad with Taiyo Yuden and average to good for the rest of the tested media. A further improvement is required at this point. We should not forget that the drive was tested with the only firmware available at the time of the review, so no improvements have been made available yet since the time of its release.

Moving on to the DVD recording tests, the SONY DW-Q30A is quite a fast DVD burner and needs less than 6 minutes to burn a DVD single layer disc at 16X. The reported times in our tests were good in all cases with DVD±R/RW and with DVD±R DL. What about the writing quality though? The DW-Q30A is one of the best DVD burners we have tested. Frankly, the previous models were not so good so the DW-Q30A made up for this. Most of the burned media reported good writing quality, while some of them excellent. However, there are still issues with quite a few media and we would like SONY to take care of this. We hope that with a new firmware release, the writing quality with the specific discs which reported poor quality in our tests will be improved.

In the drive's features, we should mention the ability to measure the quality of discs. Moreover, with the appropriate freeware utility, you can disable the region control and convert the drive to region free.

At the time of this review, the price for the SONY DW-Q30A on the e-market was close to US$45.

- The Good

- High DVD±R/RW reading speed
- 6X DVD-R DL and 8X DVD+R DL support
- Good DVD error correction capabilities
- Can burn DVD+RW media at 8X and DVD-RW media at 6X
- Supports audio protected discs
- DVD writing quality with most media

- The Bad

- CD error correction
- Cannot completely read 90/99min Audio CD's
- Cannot create working backups with SafeDisc protected games over v2.80
- Cannot overburn DVD recordable media

- Like To be fixed

- Writing quality with specific DVD media
- Enabling 48X CD speed by pressing on drive button is very inconvenient

Retail Package
Reading
Error Correction
Protected Discs
Writing
Features


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