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Review: Sony DRU-700A DVD Recorder
Posted May 30, 2004 Print Version     « previous Page 2of 5 next »

The Searchers
Following the completion of multiple successful DL burns, I moved on to the real test of burning success: playback compatibility. Results were mixed, posing a real threat to the DVD+R DL legend. The disc played back perfectly with InterVideo WinDVD 5 and Nero ShowTime in the Sony recorder, leaving no question that the burned disc was, indeed, a DVD-Video, logically speaking.

But that says nothing for its physical compatibility beyond the drive in which it was burned; you can burn a DVD-Video image onto DVD-RAM, but that doesn't mean you can play it in any drive that doesn't recognize DVD-RAM media. Interestingly enough, the disc I burned failed to play in most of the other drives in the office. Tested on the on-board Toshiba DVD-ROM in the testbed PC, two Apple SuperDrives (Pioneer A04 and A06D models), and an NEC ND-1300A DVD±R/RW model, the disc didn't show up at all. The discs did play, however, in an A04 drive in a Sony VAIO, as well as a Toshiba DVD-ROM in the same PC.

Of course, DVD-Video's legend is built on playback in TV-attached set-top players, and in practical terms—for its value as a disc-checking mechanisms—DVD+R DL's success hinges on same. I first tried the DL discs in the two DVD players I have at home. Results were mixed: both discs played beautifully in my trusty old Pioneer DV-414 (bought in 1999), but a brand new Sony DVP-NS425P wouldn't play either disc, delivering the error message "The disc is dirty" on each attempt.

Rather than declare my tests inconclusive, I knew I had to take the show on the road and see how the discs played in Peoria--or the next best thing, my local Circuit City, Best Buy, and CompUSA. I found 21 up-and-running set-top DVD players at those stores from manufacturers such as Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, JVC, Zenith, Polaroid, Magnavox, and GoVideo. Playback was all over the map: 13 players played the discs immediately and without difficuly, while 8 refused to recognize the discs at all. (I didn't test for sustained playback on any but the players I had at home.) I also tried the DL discs on six portable players, none of which recognized them.

I did additional testing with a smaller group of ROM drives and recorders. ROM drive results were pretty good (3 out of 5 played the discs), which the DL media went 2-for-7 in tested RW drives (one of which was the 700A). I also sent one of my test discs to EMedia Contributing Editor and CD Writer columnist Hugh Bennett to test in his London, Ontario lab. Working with 30-odd players, ROM drives, and recorders, Bennett's results were comparable: about a 45 percent success rate overall. (For a complete table of testing results, see Pages 4 and 5)

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