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

Tuesday, November 15, 2005
NEC ND-4551A

1. Introduction

NEC recently released a new burner, the ND-4550A. After only a short period, they released yet another, the ND-4551A. This is basically the same as the ND-4550A with the only difference being the addition of the LabelFlash feature, a technology that allows a consumer to burn pictures and/or write titles on the label side of the DVD discs specially developed for the Labelflash system with DVD writers with the Labelflash function. There is no need for printers and consumables for printing. To obtain high resolution and contrast pictures in blue and silver color, a consumer only needs to turn the disc upside down and insert it into the drive again after recording data. The unique technology burns the image 0.6mm deep into the media in as little as five minutes, creating a more stable and permanent image than traditional printable media that uses the top layer of a disc for labeling.

The technology marries the unique Yamaha DiscT@2 (Tattoo) technology for picture burning on CD-R data side with the photochemical expertise of Fuji Photo Film, which is a leading company in dye technologies for optical media.

Labelflash utilizes newly developed laser, pick up and rotation control, and high-speed signal processing system of image data. And newly developed Labelflash DVD disc structure realizes the optimal focusing setting because the picture-burning layer at 0.6mm deep into the media is the same depth as the data recording layer on the data side.

General Specifications of Labelflash System

- Laser wave length 655nm
- NA 0.65
- Picture-burning time 5min (Fast mode) - 20min (High Quality mode)

General Specifications of Labelflash Disc

- Depth of the picture-burning layer 0.6mm from the disc surface
- Dye for the picture-burning layer Organic Dye
- Picture-burning area (radius) 25mm - 58mm

Back to the drive, the ND-4551A supports the following speeds for reading and writing:

Read Write
DVD+/-R 16X
DVD+/-RW 12X
CD-R 48X
CD-R 48X

The RPC II region control is used, allowing the user to change the drive's region no more than five times. Below are the main specs for the drive as given by NeroInfoTool and DVDInfoPro:

- Nero InfoTool

- DVD InfoPro

- The Drive

We received the bulk version of the white blazed NEC ND-4551A. The only noticeable difference, in comparison to the ND-3540A, is the new MULTI recorder logo placed on the tray. 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.

- Front panel view

- Rear panel view

We don't recommend removing the drive's cover, since this will void the manufacturer's warrantee. Instead, you can take a look inside the drive with the pictures below. Click on the image below for a larger and more detailed photo.

The drive uses the same NEC D6364 chipset that is found in the previous model, the ND 3540, which is known for its good burning quality. The specific chipset can also be found in Pioneer's latest burners, the DVR-110 and DVR-110D.

- Installation

The drive came with firmware release 1-8T which happens to be the latest one, so no flashing was needed. It was identified as the "NEC DVD_RW ND-4551A" under WinXP. Below is a screenshot of Nero Burning Rom's specs for the drive.

Throughout this review and for the sake of comparison, we will be posting the test results for the 4551A along with the results of two other drives, the Philips DVDR1648P and the Pioneer DVR-110D.

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