Toshiba SD-R5002 DVD-R/RW kit review: Toshiba SD-R5002 DVD-R/RW kit

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MSRP: $299.00
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3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Fast DVD read performance; burns CD-R and CD-RW media faster than competing DVD-R drives; cheaper than last-generation drives.

The Bad It's a generation behind the DVD-burning performance curve.

The Bottom Line The SD-R5002 reads DVDs well, but for critical DVD write/rewrite speeds, it can't keep pace with newer drives.

6.9 Overall
  • Setup and ease of use 7.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 6.0
  • Service and support 7.0

The Toshiba SD-R5002 offers significant improvements over last-generation DVD-RW drives such as Pioneer's DVR-A04 and CenDyne's DVR-104. It also reads DVDs nearly four times as fast and writes to CD-R and CD-RW media twice as fast. But unfortunately for Toshiba, the drive's 2X DVD-R and 1X DVD-RW performance lags behind that of newer-model drives such as Sony's DRU-500A and Pioneer's DVR-A05, which can write DVD-RW media at 2X and DVD-R media at 4X. (The DRU-500A also writes DVD+R and DVD+RW media at 2.4X.) Though the Toshiba is a solid product with an excellent software bundle, we can't recommend it over the faster competition. The very thought of installing an internal drive is enough to send most technophobes cringing. Fortunately, Toshiba helps make the task seem less frightening by including all the necessary hardware in the box. The basic tools of the trade consist of an IDE cable, an audio cable, and mounting screws. It took us about 10 to 15 minutes to pop open our computer, set the drive's jumper settings, attach the cables, and install the software. If the sight of your computer insides makes you squeamish, don't worry; the company includes an exceptionally concise installation manual and a quick-setup sheet to guide you through the process. Alas, there's no troubleshooting advice in case all does not go as planned. The drive is compatible with Windows 98 SE through XP. Finally, the drive ships with one DVD+RW and five DVD-Rs to help you get started.



Back panel.
The SD-R5002 is a plain-looking drive with only an eject button, an emergency-eject hole, and a power/record light gracing the front panel. There's no track-advance button, headphone jack, volume control, or even a Toshiba logo. The back panel is home to the usual suspects, including power and IDE connectors, slave/cable select/master jumpers, and both analog and digital audio outputs. A label affixed to the top of the unit explains the different types of connectors, which saves you from checking the installation guide for clues while you have your head stuck inside the computer.

The Toshiba SD-R5002's DVD read (12X) and write (16X CD-R and 10X CD-RW) speeds compare favorably to those of many competitive drives still on the market, including Pioneer's DVR-A04 and CenDyne's DVR-104. It tops out, however, at a less impressive 2X and 1X on DVD-R and DVD-RW write speeds, so it simply can't keep pace with some of the latest models such as Sony's DRU-500A and Pioneer's DVR-A05.

The SD-R5002 is one of the few drives that we've reviewed that ships with VOB Instant CD/DVD software, one of the most comprehensive packages available. The suite includes InstantWrite for packet writing; InstantCopy for 1:1 disc copies; InstantDisc for mastering chores; InstantBackup for backing up your system; InstantVideo for authoring video CDs and DVDs; and InstantMusic, a 16-track audio recorder and sample arranger. InstantCD/DVD covers every type of CD and DVD project, including Apple's native HFS format.



InstantDisc.


However, we do have a few quibbles. For example, we'd like to see more help for beginners in the documentation. Plus, we would rather see all the functions brought under one roof instead of being loosely connected by a launch application. Toshiba also includes CyberLink's PowerDirector for editing video and authoring DVDs and the same company's PowerDVD for DVD movie playback.



PowerDirector Pro 2.5.


While the SD-R5002 proves no competition for the faster Sony DRU-500A or Pioneer DVR-A05, its performance compares favorably with that of other 2X DVD-RW drives. In CNET Labs' tests, the SD-R5002 took only 8 seconds more than the Pioneer DVR-A04 to write a large 383MB file to DVD-RW but needed nearly two minutes longer to write a 500MB directory of files. It finished in a dead heat with the DVR-A04 writing our 3.24GB movie file to DVD-R and proved far superior in all our read tests, nearly quadrupling the DVR-A04's performance. The drive also wrote to CD-R and CD-RW media in times commensurate with its 16X and 10X ratings--far faster than our anecdotal tests of the 8X/4X-rated Pioneer DVR-A04 and the CenDyne DVR-104.

Data write tests
Time, in minutes, to perform tasks (shorter bars indicate better performance)
Write a 383MB file to rewritable media   
Write 500MB directory to rewritable media   
Philips DVDRW228 (DVD+RW)
1.98 
2.85 
Pioneer DVR-A04 (DVD-RW)
4.67 
6.58 
Toshiba SD-R5002 (DVD-RW)
4.85 
8.54 
Cendyne DVR-104 (DVD-RW)
4.74 
11.04 
 
Movie-write tests
Movie files vary in size due to different compression rates, so write speed is measured in MB per second (longer bars indicate better performance)

Philips DVDRW228 (DVD+RW)
2.48 
Pioneer DVR-A04 (DVD-RW)
2.17 
Toshiba SD-R5002 (DVD-RW)
2.17 
Cendyne DVR-104 (DVD-RW)
1.21 
 
Read tests
Time, in minutes, to perform tasks (shorter bars indicate better performance)
Copy a 383MB file from rewritable media to the hard drive   
Copy a 500MB directory from rewritable media to the hard drive   
Philips DVDRW228 (DVD+RW)
0.76 
2.59 
Toshiba SD-R5002 (DVD-RW)
1.06 
3.52 
Cendyne DVR-104 (DVD-RW)
3.35 
5.86 
Pioneer DVR-A04 (DVD-RW)
4.70 
9.81 
 
All write tests are run with both the drive's recommended media (submitted by the manufacturer) and with Verbatim media, rated at the drive's maximum speed. For more details on how we test DVD-recordable drives, see the CNET Labs site.

Toshiba backs the SD-R5002 with a one-year warranty, typical for the industry. Tech support is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, but it's a toll call. The Toshiba support Web site offers a copy of the installation guide, downloadable firmware upgrades, general FAQs, warranty information, and an e-mail link to tech support.

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