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

Monday, July 19, 2004
Sony DRU-700A

1. Retail Package - Installation

SONY DRU-700A Dual DVD±RW Recorder - Page 1

Sony announced at the end of April a new 8X DUAL burner, the "DRU-700A". The main difference with the presently available series was the adoption of Double Layer (DVD+R DL) recording.

Our main interest is to see how the new Sony drive compared with the previous series and most importantly, if and how DL writing works. Another important issue would be writing quality and the various subtests. So, let's get cracking!

- New Features

The most important new feature of the DRU-700A is the ability to read/write Double Layer DVD+R media.

The Double Layer DVD+R system uses two thin embedded organic dye films for data storage separated by a spacer layer. Heating with a focused laser beam irreversibly modifies the physical and chemical structure of each layer such that the modified areas have different optical properties to those of their unmodified surroundings. This causes a variation in reflectivity as the disc rotates to provide a read-out signal as with commercially pressed read-only discs. Below is a picture showing the structure of a DVD+R DL media.

For more information about DVD+R DL technology, you can visit the DVD+RW Alliance website or Philips Research website.

The SONY DRU-700A also supports:

  • Power Burn - the technology designed to prevent errors in writing data by automatically setting up the optimum recording conditions for the media, while automatically adjusting to the delay in data transmission from a host PC. Even if data writing is interrupted due to delays in data transmission from the host PC (buffer under-run), Power-Burn technology instantly controls and accurately connects the interruption and resumption points of the data recording to give continuous writing indispensable playback compatibility. Power-Burn automatically optimizes recording conditions for the drive such as the writing speed and the strength of recording laser light, analyzing the disk quality by reading pre-recorded.
In terms of writing/reading speeds, the drive supports 8X (Z-CLV) writing for both DVD±R and 4X (CLV) writing for DVD±RW formats, while it can read DVD-ROM (pressed) up to 12X (CAV). The drive offers 40X (P-CAV) / 24X (Z-CLV) / 40X (CAV) specs for the CD formats.

- Specifications
E-IDE/ATAPI (Ultra DMA Mode 2)
Writing Speed:

DVD+R DL: 2.4X DVD+R: 8X / -R: 8X, DVD+RW:4X,

CD-R: 40X, CD-RW: 24X
Read Speed:

DVD+R/-R/+RW/-RW: 8X

DVD-ROM: 12X, CD-R/RW: 40X
Random Access:
DVD: 130msec, CD: 135msec
Buffer Size:
Supported Disc Formats:
DVD: DVD single / dual layer ( PTP / OTP ), DVD-R ( 3.9 GB / 4.7 GB ), DVD-R multi-borders, DVD+R, DVD+R multi-sessions, DVD-RW, and DVD+RW
CD-R/RW: CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-ROM / XA, Photo-CD, Multi-session, Karaoke-CD, Video-CD, CD-I FMV, CD Extra, CD Plus, CD-R, and CD-RW
Supported Writing Types:

DVD±RW: Disc-at-once, Incremental recording, Multi-border recording, Restricted overwriting

  CD-R/RW: Variable Packet, TAO, SAO, DAO, Raw Mode Burning & Over-Burn

The specs don't indicate whether the drive supports Mount Rainier for either of CD or DVD formats, but we will check this later. The drive also uses the RPC II region control, allowing a user to change the drive's region at most 5 times, which however can easily be bypassed with various utilities.

Below are the drive's main specs as given by NeroInfoTool and DVDInfoPro:

Lastly, let's see what additional information KProbe software returns:

- European Retail package

The European retail package includes the Sony DRU-700A, a quick install guide, an IDE cable and mounting screws. Also included is an extra front panel bezel, black color, which you can swap with the white bezel that comes standard. Included software is Nero v6 OEM version. The device is covered by a two year warranty. The total cost is expected to be around €165.00.

The retail package did not contain any media of CD/DVD format and unfortunately no DVD+R DL.

Now let's take a look at the drive itself.

The Sony DRU-700A looks more or less the same as the previous 540A series and it has all the appropriate logos indicating the supported formats. In the front, the user will distinguish the DVD+R DL logo! SONY gives an additional black bezel that can easily be mounted, making for a better match with black cases.

On the rear panel you can see the analogue and digital outputs (SPDIF), the IDE connector and the power input. Our drive was manufactured during May 2004 in Japan.

Removing the screws and opening the drive's cover voids the drive's warranty. For reference reasons, we post the following pictures. You can click on the mainboard picture for a higher resolution image:

Click To Enlarge!

The SONY DRU-700A further incorporates (located on the underside of the controller circuit board), a high-speed DVD dual Optical Disk Controller chipset from MediaTek Inc. consisting of two CMOS ultra-scale integrated circuits, the MT1816E and MT1818E. The MT1816E is the front-end analog signal processor and the MT1818E is the servo control and Endec IC. The pickup system is the Sanyo SF-DB 10SA.

- Installation

The drive was installed as secondary master and under WindowsXP recognized as a "SONY DVD RW DRU-700A". The drive arrived with firmware VY02. Below is a picture from Nero Burning Rom, showing the drive's specs.

For most recording tests, we used a newer unofficial firmware revision (VYC1) and after all tests finished SONY released officially a newer (VY05) firmware. Be aware however, that VY05 removes the option to set BookType Bitsetting, so keep that in mind before upgrading!

In our tests, we will compare the drive with the Liteon SOHW-832S, and the Plextor PX-708A.

- Testing software

In order to perform our tests we used:

  1. Nero CD-DVD Speed v3.00
  2. CDVD Benchmark v1.21
  3. ExactAudioCopy v0.9 beta5
  4. Nero Info Tool v2.21
  5. KProbe v2.1.0 (Reader: LiteOn LDW-811S firmware vHS0Q, Reading speed 8X CAV)
  6. PlexTools v2.14 (Reader: Plextor PX-712A firmware v1.02, Reading speed 8X CLV for CD-R)
  7. DVDInfoPro v2.54
  8. LiteOn Booktype Utility v1.0.6
  9. Nero Burning Rom v6.3.1.15
  10. Omnipatcher for LiteON drives v1.1.2

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