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CenDyne DVR-104 DVD-RW EIDE drive review:

CenDyne DVR-104 DVD-RW EIDE drive

  • 1
MSRP: $449.99
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The Good Burns highly compatible DVD-R along with rewritable DVD-RW media; doubles as a CD-RW drive; includes buffer-underrun protection; complete software bundle.

The Bad Slow compared to DVD+RW drives; sluggish CD-R and CD-RW performance.

The Bottom Line CenDyne's DVR-104 works well for authoring home DVDs, and a few updates make it a better deal than its predecessor. But this device is a bit slow compared to DVD+RW drives with second-generation DVD+R capability.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.0 Overall
Editors' note:
Earlier this month, CenDyne was ordered by the Superior Court of California to shut down. The company is no longer shipping products and is not servicing warranties, honoring rebates, or providing technical support. Consumers should exercise caution before purchasing CenDyne products. Read the full story. (August 22, 2003)
CenDyne's DVR-104 DVD-RW drive is the latest version of the DVR-103, the Pioneer drive that started the home-movie-burning revolution. Debuting at half the original's $995 price, the CenDyne writes and rewrites to capacious 4.7GB DVD-R/RW media as well as CD-Rs and CD-RWs. It also offers faster read speeds and better media handling. Unfortunately, however, it's beginning to look a bit slow compared to its DVD+RW competition. CenDyne's DVR-104 DVD-RW drive is the latest version of the DVR-103, the Pioneer drive that started the home-movie-burning revolution. Debuting at half the original's $995 price, the CenDyne writes and rewrites to capacious 4.7GB DVD-R/RW media as well as CD-Rs and CD-RWs. It also offers faster read speeds and better media handling. Unfortunately, however, it's beginning to look a bit slow compared to its DVD+RW competition.

Modest beginnings
We can't comment as much as we'd like on the DVR-104's installation because the drive we tested lacked final packaging and accessories. However, we can say that the preproduction documentation covered installation adequately; shipping units should have a full user guide. One hassle we remember from the DVR-103 is repeated here: There's no jumper chart on the label or the back plate, so you'll have to refer to the user guide to find the assignments. The drive is compatible with every version of Windows from 95 OSR2 onward, with the exception of Windows 2000 Server.

Some of the $499 DVR-104's write capabilities are better than those of the DVR-103, which haughtily spit high-speed media back at you. Instead, the DVR-104 is much friendlier, writing readily to 8X- to 12X-rated CD-RW media--albeit at its 4X maximum speed. Also new is Burn-Proof buffer-underrun protection for CD-R, so the DVR-104 can reliably create discs even while you're multitasking.

Par five
One trait we wish the DVR-104 hadn't inherited from the DVR-103 concerns write performance on CNET Labs' tests. The DVR-104's write speed is fine, but it takes an inordinate amount of time to close a disc. The DVR-104 burned our 3.24GB test movie (959MB after compression) to DVD-R in 13 minutes, 16 seconds, but part of this time was spent closing the disc. (Pioneer is aware of this problem.) Fortunately, the "closing time" doesn't increase significantly with the amount of data written. Another bottleneck occurred while writing groups of files; our 500MB-directory write test took an abysmal 11 minutes, 3 seconds. By contrast, writing one large, 383MB file took a more reasonable 4 minutes, 44 seconds. Note: Though CenDyne plans to include Ahead InCD with the shipping product, it did not come with our evaluation unit. We used Veritas DLA for the packet-writing tests.

The drive posted more reasonable scores on our other tests, reading back a 500MB directory in 7 minutes, 17 seconds and a single 383MB file in 4 minutes, 42 seconds. We didn't officially test the DVR-104's CD-R/RW write performance, but during our informal look, it was about what you'd expect from a drive with 8X/4X ratings--which are still slower than the 12X/10X ratings offered by competing DVD+RW drives.

Support for the drive is above par. CenDyne offers a one-year warranty on the DVR-104. Live telephone support is available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. PT, but it's a toll call. CenDyne's plentiful Web support includes online registration, a tech BBS, FAQs, drivers, software downloads, e-mail contact info, and even a glossary.

Wait and see
If you want to burn home movies that are compatible with a large number of DVD players and drives, then CenDyne's DVR-104 with its proven DVD-RW technology is a great deal. But second-generation DVD+RW drives--which are faster overall and promise to write to more-compatible recordable DVD+Rs--are due to appear soon at the same price point. Though DVD-R media will be much cheaper than DVD+R media in the short term, take a good look at upcoming DVD+RW drives before you plop down half a grand on the CenDyne DVR-104.

Data write tests
Time, in minutes, to perform tasks (shorter bars indicate better performance)
Write a 383MB file to DVD-RAM or DVD+RW media   
Write 500MB directory to DVD-RAM or DVD+RW media   
Panasonic LF-D321U (DVD-RAM/R)
2.44 
3.29 
HP DVD100i (DVD+RW)
2.58 
4.53 
Sony DRU110A/C1 (DVD+RW)
3.36 
4.13 
QPS Que DVD burner (DVD-RAM/R)
5.75 
7.78 
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)

HP DVD100i (DVD+RW)
2.22 
Sony DRU110A/C1 (DVD+RW)
2.10 
Panasonic LF-D321U (DVD-RAM/R)
1.32 
QPS Que DVD burner (DVD-RAM/R)
1.30 
CenDyne DVR-104 (DVD-RW)
1.21 
 
Read tests
Time, in minutes, to perform tasks (shorter bars indicate better performance)
Copy the 383MB file from DVD-RAM or DVD+RW to hard drive   
Copy 500MB directory from DVD-RAM or DVD+RW to hard drive   
HP DVD100i (DVD+RW)
2.13 
3.27 
QPS Que DVD burner (DVD-RAM/R)
2.42 
4.08 
Panasonic LF-D321U (DVD-RAM/R)
2.59 
5.35 
CenDyne DVR-104 (DVD-RW)
3.83 
5.86 
Sony DRU110A/C1 (DVD+RW)
2.89 
12.30 
 
The DVR-104 is no match for DVD+RW drives, which are compatible with rewritable media. Nonetheless, the DVR-104 writes to DVD-R media, which are playable by more DVD drives--a trick DVD+RW drives haven't mastered yet. For the DVD-RW write tests, we used the Veritas DLA program included with other drives because CenDyne did not bundle a UDF-writer application with our evaluation unit. The company plans to ship Ahead InCD software with the DVR-104 DVD-RW drive.

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