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  DVD Burners round-up: Plextor, Panasonic & Pioneer drives tested

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Panasonic LF-D521 DVD-RAM drive

Initial Impressions

The Panasonic drive arrived first, and I used it for a few weeks before any of the other drives made there way to the bench. Included in the box were necessary screws, an audio cable, eject pin, software, 1 DVD-R disc, and a DVD-RAM disc. This unit is the only one that supports DVD-RAM in the round-up. The ownerís manual for this drive is huge, and filled with three different languages. Itís very difficult to maneuver in due to the languages all being jumbled together though.

Installing the unit was easy as expected, with no major speed bumps. The drive tray is very fragile, and I absolutely hated it. It requires you to position the disc in such a manner that actually takes a few minutes to figure out. You just donít drop the disc in and roll, since it might not read it. You have to position the disc perfectly, and kind of push it into its affixed position in order for it to work. Itís not a difficult task, just one I find annoying. The tray also felt very breakable, which is something I donít like since these drives are expensive.

Included Software

  • Bís Recorder GOLD5 BASIC ĖThis is the DVD-R/RW writing software which is backwards compatible with CD-R/RW. This software also supports DVD-RAM

  • DVD-MovieAlbumSE 3 ĖThis is DVD video recording software which enables you to make and edit movies

  • MyDVD 3.5 Ė Software that allows you to author using DVD-video format with MPEG2 motion pictures

  • WinDVD 4 Ė InterVideoís DVD player

  • FileSafe Ė This is simply backup software

Test Drive

As stated before, the Panasonic (Matsushita) drive is the only one in this review to support DVD-RAM technology. DVD-RAM was the first re-writeable media to hit the market, and is basically a hard drive on DVD media. Now that DVD-RW media has gone mainstream, DVD-RAM isnít as lucrative as it once was. I personally donít find a need for it, but this is a decision you will have to make based on your needs.

This was the slowest drive I reviewed. The specs look like this:

 

  Panasonic LF-D512
DVD-R 2x
DVD-RW 1x
DVD-RAM 2x
DVD+R -
DVD+RW -
CD-R 12x
CD-RW 8x
DVD-ROM (read) 12x
CD-ROM (read) 32x

 

Itís pretty hard to ignore the fact that the other drives in this review can write 2X faster than the Panasonic drive, which obviously gives them the speed edge in recording. But, if you are looking for DVD-RAM support, than the Panasonic drive is the lone wolf. Other than the speed differences, I had some problems writing .cue files with this drive. For some reason, I could not use the drive with Fireburner. Also, while burning many backups, I created several coasters with this drive. DVD-R disks are expensive, and creating coasters is no laughing matter. I burned a total of 15 DVD discs with the drive, and had 3 coasters. This could be a media incompatibility issue, but something I did not come across with the others. The included software was a bit cumbersome to use, with so many different programs. I did appreciate the addition of WinDVD, possibly the best DVD playback software available, at least a personal favorite.



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