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latest DVD-R/-RW burner for PCs boasts faster writing speeds and a lower
price tag. But is that enough, when more and more DVD+R/+RW devices
are appearing in High Street stores?
The very first DVD
burner for the consumer market was the Pioneer DVR-A03 IDE model. This
burned to General Use DVD-R and DVD-RW discs - as well as CD-R and CD-RW
- and, when released, cost £750. That may sound staggering now,
but it was one-third the price of the only realistic alternative - Pioneer's
S201 commercial model.
Writing speeds have stepped up a notch with Pioneer's latest General
Use burner, the A05. This can write to DVD-R at 4x and to DVD-RW at
2x, and creates CD-Rs at 16x, and CD-RWs at 8x. The price is £200
- which is even less than its predecessor, the A04 - and we expect it
to fall further as competition among brands and DVD formats hots up
As you'd expect, the A05 only writes to DVD-R and DVD-RW, the formats
that Pioneer pioneered, and not to discs in the rival +R/+RW formats.
Indeed, at the time of writing, only Sony's DRU-500A will record to
all four main DVD disc formats. And, with so many companies having vested
interests in promoting one pair of formats over the other, we don't
expect to see many multi-format burners appearing in the near future.
Like all good DVD burners, installing the A05 is simple and fuss-free.
That contrasts hugely with the idiotic and unnecessarily restrictive
set-up routine that we suffered when struggling to install Philips'
latest DVD+R/+RW model, the DVDRW228. The A05 connects to the PC in
the same way as any IDE CD-ROM or CD writer - no dedicated drivers are
required for it to be seen by the host system. With the writer in place,
the bundled software is installed, and it's time to get burning.
While a drive might support high recording speeds, these speeds are
only possible if using the appropriate high-speed media. Thankfully,
the A05 came bundled with a 4x DVD-R disc - the kind that will kill
Pioneer A03 and A04 burners (and a bunch of other Pioneer-made products)
if the firmware hasnít been updated! A 3GByte file took 10 minutes
to record to this disc.
That sort of speed will be a huge attraction to video makers using previous-generation
burners and who regularly find themselves creating numerous copies of
large DVD projects. DVD-RW burn speed is now up to 2x, allowing the
same file to be recorded in about 20 minutes.
Unlike the last revision of Pioneer's DVD burner, this model is a major
improvement. It's faster and has better support for FireWire enclosures.
It's also a very well-behaved drive, and took everything we threw at
it without complaint.
Pioneer's software bundle is strong, and serves well to introduce newcomers
to the possibilities of DV and DVD video. We do feel that purchasers
will want to replace most of the applications over time - so the supplied
software shouldn't be allowed to sway a buying decision - especially
since MyDVD seems to be included with every burner!
With a price tag under £200 - and falling - there's no denying
that the A05 is great value. But, deciding which DVD burning standard
to go for is tough for everyone, and it is possible to avoid that decision
(and also be better prepared for the long term) by spending a little
extra on Sony's burn-everything drive. That's what we suspect a lot
of folk are going to do, once Sony sorts out its current supply problems.
Reviewed in March's issue:
DVanced PAL/NTSC Converter
Sonic Desktop Movie Maestro
Sonic Foundry Sound Forge/Acid Pro
Combustion slashed to under £900
Matrox FX exchange web site
Avid DV editing freebie
DVD X Copy
MS WM9 hits the net
Video Forum 2003