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Home > Hardware Reviews > Optical Storage > DVD Recorders Double Layer

Tuesday, January 25, 2005
NEC ND-3520A full review

1. Introduction

NEC ND-3520A Burner - Page 1

With double layer DVD-R media sitting at our doorstep and writing speeds rising for DVD+RW and DVD-RW media, NEC has released the long awaited ND-3520A model, their second generation 16X burner. NEC is known for developing high quality burners with a considerably low price tag. Keeping in mind that 16X writing speed is the physical limit for DVD media, DVD+RW re-writing speed now reaches 8X and DVD-RW writing speed reaches 6X, up from 4X.

- Features

While the new NEC model is capable of writing DVD media at 16X, the drive cannot write -R double layer media for now although a new firmware upgrade will be available to support this media type in the future. As NEC informed us: "In addition to + 4x Double Layer functionality, ND-3520 will also support - 4x Double Layer, as soon as the DVD Forum will have released final specification (scheduled for march 2005 tbc)". CD writing speed is not changed, already tuned at 48X for CD-R media and 24X for CD-RW media. It can also burn double layer media at 4X, and supports anti-buffer underun protection. WOPC is introduced to further improve burning quality. You can see a simple WOPC schematic here.

- Specifications

Drive
NEC ND-3520A
Media
DVD
CD
Transfer Rate Write
+R

16x (9 - 22MBytes/sec)

-R
48x (3000-7200kBytes/sec)
+R9
4x (5.5 MBytes/sec)
2.4x (3.3 MByte/sec)
+RW
8x (11 MBytes/sec)
-RW
24x (3000-3600kBytes/sec)
-R
16x ( 9 - 22MBytes/sec)
-RW
6x (8.2MBytes/sec)
Transfer Rate Read
DVD-R 16x CAV (max 22000 kb/s)
CD-R 48x CAV (max 4800 kb/s)
DVD+R 16x CAV (max 22000 kb/s)
CD-RW 16x CLV (max 2400 kb/s)
DVD+R9 4X CLV (5500 KByte/s)
Mechanism
motorized Tray load mechanism for horizontal and vertical use
Interface
IDE / ATAPI
Burst Transfer Rate
PIO mode 4 / Ultra DMA 33
Cashe Memory
2MB
Audio
digital-out and line-out at the back (MPC compatible)
Modes supported
DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-Video, CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, CD-Audio, CD Extra, CD Text, CD-IReady, CD-Bridge, Photo-CD, VideoCD, Hybrid CD
Writing methods
DAO(disc at once), SAO(session at once), TAO(track at once) with zero gap, variable or fixed packet, multisession
Compatibility
MPC Level 3, MultiRead, PC2001
Weight
1.01 kgr
Dimensions
148mm x 42mm x 190mm

The drive does not support Mount Rainier and it uses the well known RPC II region control, allowing a user to change the drive's region at most 5 times. Unfortunately, it cannot read or write DVD-RAM media. Below are the drive's main specs as given by NeroInfoTool, VSO Inspector and DVDInfoPro:

- The Drive

We received the bulk version of the drive in our labs. The drive is available in beige, black and silver colour.

The drive unit uses the same casing that the ND-3500A did. The front panel does not introduce anything new. You can see the eject button, the activity led and the eject hole.

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

Opening the device case will void the warranty, so we advise against it. Instead, use the photos in this review for a closer look under the hood. Clicking on the image below will reveal a high resolution image.

click to enlarge!

Bad news for all ND-3500A owners is the fact that the drive uses a new NEC D6364 chipset series, making it impossible to convert/update the previous ND-3500A model to this new ND-3520A.

click to enlarge!

The following picture shows the laser lens assembly of the NEC ND-3520A. By clicking on the picture, you can see a higher resolution image.

click to enlarge!

- Installation

The device was connected to our test PC and was identified as "NEC DVD_RW ND-3520A" under WinXP, with firmware version 1.04.

Below is a screenshot of Nero Burning Rom's specs for the drive.

In this review, we will compare the new NEC ND-3520A with the Plextor PX-716A and the Toshiba SD-R5372 drive, since all these burners have similar specifications.

You can always read users' opinions and share your thoughts for this burner in our forum section.

- Testing software

In order to perform our tests, we used:

  1. Nero CD-DVD Speed v3.55
  2. CDVD Benchmark v1.21
  3. Nero Info Tool v2.27
  4. PlexTools v2.18
  5. DVDInfoPro v2.63
  6. Nero Burning Rom v6.6.0.3
  7. CopyToDVD 3.0.35




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