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Pioneer DVR-A08XL review: Pioneer DVR-A08XL

Pioneer's DVR-A08XL is the Speedy Gonzales of 16X double-layer burners.

Jon L. Jacobi
4 min read
Pioneer DVR-A08XL
If you've been looking into 8.5GB double-layer DVD burning but you were put off by the slow 2.4X write speed, you're going to love the Pioneer DVR-A08XL. Not only does it write double layer at 4X, it also reads all types of DVD media faster than any drive we've tested. The drive is rated to read CDs at 40X and write both DVD-R and DVD+R at 16X, DVD-RW and DVD+RW at 4X, and CD-R/RW at 32X/24X.

The retail version of the drive comes with a software bundle featuring Ulead products. DVD MovieFactory 3.5 Disc Creator is included for authoring movies, VideoStudio 8.0SE for video editing, PhotoExplorer 8.5SE for handling digital photos, BurnNow 1.5 for data chores, and DVD Player 1.5 for playing movies. NovaStor's highly regarded NovaBackup 7.1 is on hand to take care of backup chores. All in all, Pioneer has put together an adept and easy-to-use software package.


Pioneer DVR-A08XL

The Good

Superfast 4X DL reading and writing; 16X DVD+R and DVD-R.

The Bad

Mediocre documentation; no digital audio output; subpar CD performance.

The Bottom Line

The Pioneer DVR-A08XL delivers excellent 4X double-layer DVD read and write performance, but it's a bit slow reading and writing CDs.

Installing the A08XL, with its plain black or putty-colored face and big silver eject button, is easy enough. However, the information-challenged installation guide will be no help. If this is your first optical-drive installation, we suggest you read CNET's guide to installing an internal burner before you start. Also, though Pioneer includes four mounting screws, there are no cables. Generally speaking, most PCs will have an open connector or a spare IDE cable, but if you want to tap the drive's analog audio output instead of playing music across the IDE bus, get a cable when you purchase the Pioneer. The DVR-A08XL is also the first drive we've seen in quite a while that lacks a digital audio output.

The A08XL's performance may make you forget the missing cables. Its 4X double-layer writing smoked the 2.4X competition by nearly 20 minutes, and it edged out Asus's DRW-1604P by 3 seconds (check back soon for a review of the Asus drive). It turned in excellent times reading all types of DVDs. Alas, CD write and read performance was subpar for a first-rank DVD burner, though it will easily be fast enough for the large majority of users.

Pioneer provides a one-year warranty on the DVR-A08XL, as well as toll-free phone support from 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PT for the full life of the product. Don't hesitate to call if the lackluster documents don't answer your question--maybe the company will improve them to match the documentation that Ulead provides for the software. Online support is a bit better, with downloadable firmware, white papers, and the like, but we were unable to locate a link to e-mail a tech-support agent.

DVD movie rip/burn tests (min:sec)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
4.4GB DVD Video burn test  
4.4GB DVD Video rip test (from DVD Video)  

Double-layer DVD movie rip/burn tests (min:sec)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
7.9GB DVD Video burn test  
7.9GB DVD Video rip test (from DVD Video)  
Note: * The Pioneer and Asus drives write to 2.4X double-layer DVD+R media at 4X.

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

RW read/write tests (min:sec)
(Shorter bars indicate better 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.

Pioneer DVR-A08XL

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 8