Sony DVDirect review: Sony DVDirect

For the most part, the DVDirect was a smooth performer. To start our informal tests, we connected a camcorder and recorded some footage in the DVDirect's highest-quality mode onto 8.5GB Verbatim DVD+R double-layer media. To the DVDirect's credit, the resulting DVD's video was crisp and clear and looked virtually indistinguishable from the source material. When we repeated the process in the middle-quality recording mode, the video held up surprisingly well, appearing only slightly grainier. Footage recorded in the low-quality mode was far more tainted with noticeable MPEG artifacts and image-crawling. Informal audio tests revealed respectable sound preservation, with no noticeable difference between the recording quality modes. The process of recording live footage from the camcorder to a DVD was simple and worked as advertised. Almost every disc we created, including a double-layer DVD+R, played without a hitch in a home DVD player. One DVD+RW disc got stuck on the first screen of the title menu; that could've been caused by our DVD player, faulty media, or the DVDirect.

In CNET Labs' benchmark tests, the DVDirect's computer-connected performance proved respectable, but its 2.4X maximum double-layer burning speed was predictably slower than that of drives that record double-layer media at a 4X maximum speed. For instance, in double-layer burn-time testing, the DVDirect took approximately 17 minutes longer to record a 7.9GB movie than Pioneer's internal DVR-A08XL. On a brighter note, the DVDirect clocked impressive times ripping our Labs' 7.9GB movie, finishing second only to the Pioneer DVR-A08XL. In the Labs' 7.9GB double-layer movie rip-and-burn test, the DVDirect's fast ripping speed couldn't offset the drive's 2.4X double-layer recording limitation. In CD-audio ripping tests, the DVDirect proved slightly slower than some drives, but its audio-CD recording performance clocked in near the front of the pack. On the whole, the drive performed quite respectably in the Labs' RW read/write tests. The discs we burned with the DVDirect in computer-connected mode played in all five of our test players, as well as in four out of four randomly selected drives.

DVD movie rip/burn tests (min:sec)
(Shorter bars indicate faster performance)
4.4GB DVD Video burn test  
4.4GB DVD Video rip test (from DVD Video)  
Note: * = As 16X DVD-R media was not available at the time of testing, 8X media was used--which the LaCie drive writes to at 12X

Double-layer DVD movie rip/burn tests (min:sec)
(Shorter bars indicate faster performance)
7.9GB DVD Video burn test  
7.9GB DVD Video rip test (from DVD Video)  

CD Audio rip/burn tests (min:sec)
(Shorter bars indicate faster performance)
74:35 CD Audio burn test  
74:35 CD Audio rip test  

RW read/write tests (min:sec)
(Shorter bars indicate faster performance)
4.22GB RW write test  
4.22GB RW read test  
Unless otherwise mentioned, all write tests are run with Verbatim media, rated at the drive's maximum speed. Find out more about how we test optical drives. The DVDirect includes a standard one-year limited warranty. Toll-free technical support, live chat, and e-mail support are available Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT. Sony's Web site isn't elegant to navigate, and its support section was briefly down one morning when we checked. Without charge, you can download a replacement user guide and quick-start poster from the support site. Although the Sony site has a searchable knowledge base, we weren't readily able to find any information specifically dedicated to the DVDirect.

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