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Streaming Media
DVD+R DL Playback Compatibility Report, Part Two
Posted Nov 19, 2004 Print Version     Page 1of 1
  

In the June issue of EMedia, we reviewed Sony's DRU-700A, the first market-ready double-layer DVD recorder. The drive performed well in testing, producing 8.5GB DVDs on DVD+R DL media without difficulty. The double-layer DVD-Video discs it burned had only one consistent flaw: compatibility with DVD players. Testing in roughly 70 set-top players, portables, DVD-ROM drives, and DVD burners revealed that discs burned in the Sony played in only about 40% of all players tested. (For complete results, see www.emedialive.com/Articles/ReadArticle.aspx?ArticleID=8568.)

In October 2004, Sony's second-generation dual-layer burner, the DRU-710A, arrived at the door of EMedia. The DRU-710A ships with the same Nero recording bundle, and increases DL maximum burn speed to 4X from the previous drive's 2.4X. I replicated the compatibility test as closely as possible to see if improvements to the drive and media had drawn closer to the 90% most DVD+R DL manufacturers claim. I used the same DVD-Video image as in the June review—a DeCSS'd copy of Kill Bill Vol. 1, weighing in at just over 7GB--and burned it to two brands of DL media: Ridata and Verbatim. Then I took the experiment on the road with hopes of improved compatibility results.

I tested playback in several set-top DVD players, portables, ROM drives, and burners found at local Best Buy and Circuit City stores. Results this time showed patterns similar to the previous testing, in terms of what types of devices played the discs successfully, but with an improved rate of compatibility. Over 30 drives were tested, and the 4X Verbatim disc played successfully on 73% of all players and drives, while the 2.4X Ridata media had a 36% success rate (see table for complete results).

Discs burned in the 700A failed to play in any portable DVD players. I found the same trend in this test, but managed to locate one Panasonic portable that played both discs, and a Samsung that played the Verbatim but not the Ridata. The Samsung stalled on the Ridata while playing some of the extra features.

One other key point for analysis is the performance of DVD recorders in reading dual-layer discs. Because recorders do a full disc ID check before playback, they're more likely than set-top players or ROM drives simply to eject the disc. In the June review, this was evident in the 33% playback compatibility rate with DVD±R/RW drives. This time, however, six out of six burners tested played both the Ridata and Verbatim discs.

One way to circumvent some of the compatibility issues with DVD+R DL discs, many have suggested, is to change the discs' Book Type from DVD+R9 to the more familiar ROM. LiteOn, which manufactures the core components of the Sony 700 and 710, offers a Book Type utility that allows you to change the Book Type before recording, but by all appearances, the Sony drive disables that feature. When you open up Nero to burn the disc after running the LiteOn utility, the disc still appears as DVD+R9.

In the end, the Sony second-generation burner showed significant improvement over the first generation in terms of the playback compatibility of DVD+R DL discs burned in the drive. (Whether this improved success rate derives from the media, the drives, the software, or the latest crop of playback devices is unclear, although it's likely a combination of the first three.) The scope of this test was admittedly less broad than in the first review, and tested only what was available in stores. However, the test was thorough enough to give consumers a basic idea of the likelihood that a burned dual-layer disc will play in their homes, and commercial DVD producers an idea of how confident they can be that the DL discs they produce and distribute will play when they reach their end users. 

--Curt Challberg

Company

Model

Type

Verbatim Result

Ridata Result

Sony

DVP-NC665P

ST

YES

NO

Magnavox

MDV456/17

ST

YES

YES

Toshiba

SD 3966

ST

NO

NO

Sony

DVD-N5575P

ST

YES

NO

JVC

XV-NP105L

ST

YES

NO

Sony

DVP-N5775

ST

YES

YES

Samsung

DVD-HD841

ST

YES

NO

Pioneer

DV578A-S

ST

YES

NO

LG

LST-3510

ST

YES

NO

Zenith

XBV443

ST

YES

NO

Toshiba

SD-V592

ST

YES

NO

Samsung

DVD-4800

ST

NO

NO

Toshiba

SD-1800

ST

YES

NO

Toshiba

SD-V392

ST

NO

NO

Sony

SLV-D35OP

ST

YES

NO

Samsung

DVD-V4600

ST

NO

NO

Mitsubishi

DD-6640

ST

YES

NO

Zenith

DVB412

ST

YES

YES

Initial

IDM1731

PP

NO

NO

Insignia

I-PD1020

PP

NO

NO

Liquid Video

LIDM830

PP

NO

NO

Panasonic

DVDLS50

PP

YES

YES

Samsung

DVD-L300

PP

YES

NO

Compaq

SR1210NX

ROM

YES

YES

HP

A700N

ROM

NO

NO

Sony

VGC-RA826G

ROM

YES

YES

Toshiba

M35X5149

ROM

NO

NO

Compaq

SR1230NX

RW

YES

YES

Compaq

R3320US

RW

YES

YES

HP

ZV5330US

RW

YES

YES

HP

A720N

RW

YES

YES

HP

M1160

RW

YES

YES

Sony

VGC-RA826G

RW

YES

YES

Key: ST=set-top DVD player; PP=portable DVD player; ROM=DVD-ROM drive; RW=DVD recorder

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