Sony DRU review:

Sony DRU

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MSRP: $159.99
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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Writes double-layer media; fine overall performance.

The Bad Burned double-layer discs fail to play in some devices; lacks headphone jack and volume control on front panel.

The Bottom Line Sony's first double-layer DVD burner does its job well, but double-layer burning itself is a mixed blessing.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.4 Overall

<p>Our feelings about Sony's double-layer, multiformat DVD burner, the DRU-700A, are complicated. Don't get us wrong: We love its ability to write high-capacity 8.5GB, double-layer discs, which hold twice as much data as single-layer DVD-R and DVD+R discs and, more importantly, are big enough to fit an entire uncompressed commercial movie. We also appreciate the DRU-700A's excellent performance with single-layer DVD+/-/R/RW and CD-R/RW media. Still, the double-layer experience wasn't all we had hoped it would be: double-layer media burns at only 2.4X; at 3.32 megabytes per second, that's a relatively slow proposition, especially when compared to today's 8X (11.08-megabytes-per-second) single-layer burn speed. Furthermore, the double-layer discs we burned failed to play in many of the other PC-attached burners we tested and also bombed in a few of the set-top DVD players we tried. In other words, the double-layer movies you burn with the DRU-700A may not play in every machine. Still, at $169 after a $30 mail-in rebate (as of July 2004), the double-layer DRU-700A isn't significantly more expensive than many other 8X single-layer-only DVD burners, and it does everything they can and more. <br><br> The DRU-700A is almost identical in appearance to its forerunners in the innovative DRU-500 series, sporting the same mildly attractive, putty-colored faceplate and translucent gray-and-blue media tray; Sony includes a black replacement faceplate for those with meaner-looking PCs. The drive measures a little less than seven inches deep, making it an especially good choice for bread-box and mini PCs. Adorning its front are an emergency-eject port, a power/busy light, and an eject button--that's it; there's no volume control nor headphone jack. The back panel has the standard array of connections: analog and digital audio outputs, IDE connector, drive configuration jumpers, plus three mystery jumpers whose purpose was unclear--leave them alone. <br><br> The DRU-700A's most significant feature is its ability to write 8.5GB double-layer DVD+R discs. This more capacious DVD-recordable technology allows you to back up an entire high-bit-rate, two-hour movie without compression or alteration and archive twice the amount of data as normal single-layer DVD (read more about the pros and cons of double-layer technology in <a href="/4520-7613_7-5135505-3.html?tag=txt#5">CNET's burner buying guide</a>). <br><br> The DRU-700A also writes single-layer DVD-R and DVD+R at 8X, DVD-RW/+RW at 4X, CD-R at 40X, and CD-RW at 24X (just like the <a href="/Sony_DRU-530A/4505-3205_7-30581840.html?tag=txt">DRU-530A</a> before it). DVD-ROM reading proceeds at a sprightly 12X, and CD-ROM reading at 40X. Those specs are totally sufficient for most users, but they're no longer state of the art: Plextor's PX-712 writes DVD+R at 12X, and 16X drives are almost here. <br><br> For the first time, Sony bundles Ahead Software's Nero 6.0 DVD/CD software suite; it's not our Editors' Choice <span data-shortcode="link" data-link-text="Ultra edition" data-asset-type="review" data-uuid="b238290e-9d89-11e2-853d-0291187978f3" data-slug="nero-6-0-ultra-edition"></span>, but it's still a great improvement over the underpowered <span data-shortcode="link" data-link-text="Sonic MyDVD" data-asset-type="review" data-uuid="b23abddc-9d89-11e2-853d-0291187978f3" data-slug="sonic-mydvd-studio-deluxe-5-0"></span> suite that shipped with the <a href="/Sony_DRU-530A/4505-3205_7-30581840.html?tag=txt">Sony DRU-530A</a>. Nero 6.0 isn't quite as intuitive or easy to use as MyDVD, but it offers far more advanced features and a much better backup utility. <br><br> CNET Labs recently changed <a href="/Labs/4520-6603_7-5141963-1.html?tag=txt">its burner testing methodology</a> to more accurately reflect real-life usage, and the Sony DRU-700A did very well with the new test suite. It stacked up well against both Lite-On's new double-layer <a href="/LITE-ON_8X_DVD_RW-RW_DL_INT_WHITE/4505-5_7-30916669.html?tag=txt">SOHW-832s</a> and LG Electronics's single-layer 8X drive, the <a href="/LG_Electronics_GSA-4082B/4505-3205_7-30825116.html?tag=txt">GSA-4082B</a>, with a three-way tie for movie-ripping performance but pulling ahead with the fastest time writing to single-layer DVD+R media. It was equally as speedy as the SOHW-832s at <a href="/4520-7613_7-5135505-5.html?tag=txt#4">ripping CD audio</a>, but for some reason, it fell considerably off the pace when writing a full audio CD, coming in approximately two minutes slower than the others. In our two DVD-rewritable media tests, the DRU-700A finished in a virtual dead heat with its competitors. <br><br> Because double-layer media is still hard to come by and will debut with a cost of at least $10 per disc and because there is no multisession support when burning DVD-movie discs, you'll want to be very selective with what you choose to put on double-layer discs. Additionally, the sluggish 2.4X write speed translates into a long wait for discs with lots of data or a feature-length movie. Our tests drive home this point: both the DRU-700A and the Lite-On SOHW-832s took about 44 minutes, 15 seconds to burn a full 7.9GB DVD movie. (Our dual-layer tests were conducted using Sony media.) <br><br> Interestingly, the more important performance issue regarding double-layer burning seems to be with DVD playback. The double-layer DVD disc we burned with the Sony drive played in most of the set-top players we tried; however, very few PC-attached single-layer DVD recorders recognized the disc. The double-layer disc we burned with the Lite-On SOHW-832s also played in most of the set-top players we tried and was recognized in very few of the PC DVD drives. For now it seems that buyers should beware: single-layer burners often can't play burned double-layer media. <br><br><!-- perf chart --></p><div align="center"> <div style="width: 377px; text-align: left" class="u2"><b class="g4">DVD movie rip/burn tests (min:sec)</b>&nbsp;&nbsp;(Shorter bars indicate faster performance)<br><table cellpadding="1" cellspacing="0" border="0"><tr><td><div style="background: #363; width: 8px; height: 8px"><img src="/b.gif" width="1" height="1" alt=""></div></td> <td><span class="a1">4.4GB DVD movie burn test</span></td><td>&nbsp;&nbsp;</td> <td><div style="background: #696; width: 8px; height: 8px"><img src="/b.gif" width="1" height="1" alt=""></div></td> <td><span class="a1">4.4GB DVD movie rip test (from DVD-ROM)</span></td><td>&nbsp;&nbsp;</td> </tr></table></div> <div style="border: solid 1px #666; background: #FFF; width: 377px; text-align: left"> <div style="padding: 5px; background: #FFC"> <b class="u2"><span class="g4">Sony DRU-700A (8X DVD+R)</span></b><br><div class="m1" style="background: #363; width: 276px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">08:47</b>&nbsp;</div> <div class="m1" style="background: #696; width: 274px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">08:43</b>&nbsp;</div> </div> <div style="padding: 5px; background: #FFF"> <b class="u2"><span class="g4">Lite-On 832s (8X DVD+R)</span></b><br><div class="m1" style="background: #363; width: 290px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">09:14</b>&nbsp;</div> <div class="m1" style="background: #696; width: 275px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">08:45</b>&nbsp;</div> </div> <div style="padding: 5px; background: #FFF"> <b class="u2"><span class="g4">LG Electronics GSA-4082B (8X DVD+R)</span></b><br><div class="m1" style="background: #363; width: 292px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">09:18</b>&nbsp;</div> <div class="m1" style="background: #696; width: 281px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">08:56</b>&nbsp;</div> </div> <div style="padding: 5px; background: #FFF"> <b class="u2"><span class="g4">LG Electronics GSA-4082B (8X DVD-R)</span></b><br><div class="m1" style="background: #363; width: 298px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">09:29</b>&nbsp;</div> </div> <div style="padding: 5px; background: #FFF"> <b class="u2"><span class="g4">Lite-On 832s (8X DVD-R)</span></b><br><div class="m1" style="background: #363; width: 304px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">09:41</b>&nbsp;</div> </div> <div style="padding: 5px; background: #FFF"> <b class="u2"><span class="g4">Sony DRU-700A (8X DVD-R)</span></b><br><div class="m1" style="background: #363; width: 318px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">10:08</b>&nbsp;</div> </div> </div> </div> <!-- /perf chart --> <br><br><!-- perf chart --><div align="center"> <div style="width: 377px; text-align: left" class="u2"><b class="g4">CD Audio rip/burn tests (min:sec)</b>&nbsp;&nbsp;(Shorter bars indicate faster performance)<br><table cellpadding="1" cellspacing="0" border="0"><tr><td><div style="background: #363; width: 8px; height: 8px"><img src="/b.gif" width="1" height="1" alt=""></div></td> <td><span class="a1">74:35 CD Audio burn test</span></td><td>&nbsp;&nbsp;</td> <td><div style="background: #696; width: 8px; height: 8px"><img src="/b.gif" width="1" height="1" alt=""></div></td> <td><span class="a1">74:35 CD Audio rip test</span></td><td>&nbsp;&nbsp;</td> </tr></table></div> <div style="border: solid 1px #666; background: #FFF; width: 377px; text-align: left"> <div style="padding: 5px; background: #FFF"> <b class="u2"><span class="g4">Lite-On 832s (40X CD-R)</span></b><br><div class="m1" style="background: #363; width: 114px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">03:02</b>&nbsp;</div> <div class="m1" style="background: #696; width: 248px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">06:35</b>&nbsp;</div> </div> <div style="padding: 5px; background: #FFC"> <b class="u2"><span class="g4">Sony DRU-700A (40X CD-R)</span></b><br><div class="m1" style="background: #363; width: 116px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">03:04</b>&nbsp;</div> <div class="m1" style="background: #696; width: 317px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">08:25</b>&nbsp;</div> </div> <div style="padding: 5px; background: #FFF"> <b class="u2"><span class="g4">LG Electronics GSA-4082B (24X CD-R)</span></b><br><div class="m1" style="background: #363; width: 179px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">04:45</b>&nbsp;</div> <div class="m1" style="background: #696; width: 240px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">06:22</b>&nbsp;</div> </div> </div> </div> <!-- /perf chart --> <br><br><!-- perf chart --><div align="center"> <div style="width: 377px; text-align: left" class="u2"><b class="g4">RW read/write tests (min:sec)</b>&nbsp;&nbsp;(Shorter bars indicate faster performance)<br><table cellpadding="1" cellspacing="0" border="0"><tr><td><div style="background: #363; width: 8px; height: 8px"><img src="/b.gif" width="1" height="1" alt=""></div></td> <td><span class="a1">4.22GB RW write test</span></td><td>&nbsp;&nbsp;</td> <td><div style="background: #696; width: 8px; height: 8px"><img src="/b.gif" width="1" height="1" alt=""></div></td> <td><span class="a1">4.22GB RW read test</span></td><td>&nbsp;&nbsp;</td> </tr></table></div> <div style="border: solid 1px #666; background: #FFF; width: 377px; text-align: left"> <div style="padding: 5px; background: #FFC"> <b class="u2"><span class="g4">Sony DRU-700A (8X DVD+RW)</span></b><br><div class="m1" style="background: #363; width: 104px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">13:44</b>&nbsp;</div> <div class="m1" style="background: #696; width: 72px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">09:30</b>&nbsp;</div> </div> <div style="padding: 5px; background: #FFF"> <b class="u2"><span class="g4">Lite-On 832s (8X DVD+RW)</span></b><br><div class="m1" style="background: #363; width: 104px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">13:45</b>&nbsp;</div> <div class="m1" style="background: #696; width: 72px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">09:36</b>&nbsp;</div> </div> <div style="padding: 5px; background: #FFF"> <b class="u2"><span class="g4">LG Electronics GSA-4082B (8X DVD+RW)</span></b><br><div class="m1" style="background: #363; width: 104px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">13:48</b>&nbsp;</div> <div class="m1" style="background: #696; width: 73px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">09:38</b>&nbsp;</div> </div> <div style="padding: 5px; background: #FFF"> <b class="u2"><span class="g4">LG Electronics GSA-4082B (8X DVD-RW)</span></b><br><div class="m1" style="background: #363; width: 109px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">14:25</b>&nbsp;</div> <div class="m1" style="background: #696; width: 70px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">09:17</b>&nbsp;</div> </div> <div style="padding: 5px; background: #FFF"> <b class="u2"><span class="g4">Lite-On 832s (8X DVD-RW)</span></b><br><div class="m1" style="background: #363; width: 110px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">14:37</b>&nbsp;</div> <div class="m1" style="background: #696; width: 72px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">09:33</b>&nbsp;</div> </div> <div style="padding: 5px; background: #FFC"> <b class="u2"><span class="g4">Sony DRU-700A (8X DVD-RW)</span></b><br><div class="m1" style="background: #363; width: 110px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">14:39</b>&nbsp;</div> <div class="m1" style="background: #696; width: 72px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">09:32</b>&nbsp;</div> </div> <div style="padding: 5px; background: #FFF"> <b class="u2"><span class="g4">LG Electronics GSA-4082B (3X DVD-RAM)</span></b><br><div class="m1" style="background: #363; width: 292px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">38:47</b>&nbsp;</div> <div class="m1" style="background: #696; width: 142px; margin: 1px; padding: 1px; text-align: right"><b class="w">18:53</b>&nbsp;</div> </div> </div> </div> <!-- /perf chart --> <br><br> Unless otherwise mentioned, all write tests are run with <a href="http://dw.cbsi.com/redir?oid=&lt;!--#echo%20var='CNET-ONTOLOGY-NODE-ID'--&gt;&amp;siteid=7&amp;edid=&lt;!--#echo%20var='CNET-EDITION-ID'--&gt;&amp;lop=txt&amp;destcat=ex&amp;destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Everbatim%2Ecom" target="_blank" data-component="externalLink">Verbatim media</a>, rated at the drive's maximum speed. Find out more about <a href="/Labs/4520-6603_7-5141963-1.html?tag=txt">how we test DVD burners</a>. <br><br> Sony backs the DRU-700A with an industry-standard one-year warranty, but the company's toll-free tech support is available only weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. PT. Sony's <a href="http://dw.cbsi.com/redir?oid=&lt;!--#echo%20var='CNET-ONTOLOGY-NODE-ID'--&gt;&amp;siteid=7&amp;edid=&lt;!--#echo%20var='CNET-EDITION-ID'--&gt;&amp;lop=txt&amp;destcat=ex&amp;destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Esonyburners%2Ecom" target="_blank" data-component="externalLink">Web site</a> offers abundant support in the form of a variety of FAQs, technology white papers, software updates, PDF manuals, and firmware downloads.

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