Over the past few months, we've seen CD-RW drives advanced by leaps and bounds not just with their ever-increasing writing speeds but in features as well - Plextor's VariRec and Yamaha's Audio Master just to name a few. DVD writers however, are considered caviar hardware and were affordable only to those with "burn-proof" (no pun intended) pockets or those involved in high-end audio reproduction or mass storage. Things look to have changed however, as we see consumer-level DVD writers becoming available since last year.
The Three Different DVD Media
The first rewritable format to we saw was the DVD-RAM. Available in different capacities, they were a pretty cost-effective way to archive large amounts of data and could be re-written more than 100,000 times. DVD-RAM however, represented one big headache in the sense that it uses a cartridge. These disks were not compatible with DVD video players or DVD-ROM drives and needed a dedicated DVD-RAM drive to read them. Although vendors eventually made DVD-RAM that doesn't need the use of a cartridge, the problem of incompatibilities with most DVD-ROM players still exist.
Then we have the DVD-R/RW pioneered (again, no pun intended) by Pioneer. DVD-R though can only be written once, did not need the use of a cartridge. The DVD-RW format, like CD-RW discs, gives users the ability to write, erase and then write again up to 1,000 times. Because DVD-R/RW discs were built similarly to DVD-ROM media, they could be used on many DVD-ROM drives and DVD video players - though not all.
Unfortunately, the achille's heel of DVD-R/RW technology is the absence of an efficient support for encoding of video using variable bit rates. This limits the recording speed to only 1x. To calculate how long that will take to write a full 4.7GB disc, just think of a CD-RW drive writing seven 650MB discs at 9x-writing speed.
Then we saw the emergence of the DVD+RW Alliance - a convergence of leaders in the optical storage industry such as Dell, HP, Mitsubishi, Philips, Ricoh, Thomson, Sony & Yamaha, who all aimed to deliver the best performance with the best possible compatibility. I won't go into detail about the DVD+RW Alliance, but you can check out their website here
or read our previous article here
The designation of a DVD+RW format was made to be very similar to dual-layered DVD media. Since most DVD players and DVD-ROM drives were made to support dual-layered discs, the assumption here is that these drives/players should be compatible with DVD+RW. I say "assumption", because like DVD-RW, there ARE players/drives out there that cannot read DVD+RW discs.
As mentioned earlier, one of the DVD+RW Alliance's priority is the performance department. The first generation of DVD+RW that we see today allows for recording speeds at up to 2.4x. DVD+RW drives will also feature loss-less linking technology to keep written-DVD compatible with DVD-ROMs and DVD players.
Today, we'll take a look at one of the first few external DVD+RW drive. By one of the founding members of the DVD+RW Alliance, let's take a look at the specifications of the HP dvd200e below, before moving on to its performance over the next few pages.
HP dvd200e DVD+RW Technical Specifications
Writing Speed (DVD+R)
Writing Speed (DVD+RW)
|Writing Speed (CD-R)
- 12x : 1800 KB/s
- 8x : 1200 KB/s
- 4x : 600 KB/s
- 2x : 300 KB/s
|Writing Speed (CD-RW)
- 10x: 1500 KB/s
- 4x: 600 KB/s
- 32x max. (CD-ROM)
- 8x max. (DVD-ROM)
- 2MB with Buffer Underrun Protection
- Disc at Once
- Track at Once
- Session at Once
- Packet Writing
|Supported Write/Read Formats
- CD-ROM XA