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Appeared on: Wednesday, December 29, 2004
NEC ND-6500A


1. Introduction

NEC ND-6500A - Page 1

NEC introduced in June of 2004 their first, ultra compact double layer burner, with the aim to bring high quality, fast DVD burning to laptop users, without the need for external drive enclosures. It is extremenly light weight, adding only 0.19kg to your laptop. Although you might notice several similarities with the ND-2510A model, in order to minimise its size, NEC has used a totally different laser pick-up mechanism.

"High resolution writing strategies" are again incorporated into the ND-6500A, just as with the ND-2510A, which is in fact an improved version of Active Optimized Power Control (Active OPC). Active OPC constantly monitors the sensitivity of the media and adjusts the laser strength to achieve the best possible results. It does this by analyzing the reflection from the media's surface. Anti "buffer under run error" system ensures safe burns.

- Features

This internal burner can write up to 8x with DVD-R and DVD+R media, while it can re-write at 4x. Although this is not the maximum writing speed available, it is the maximum speed for a drive of this size. Afterall, speed is not an issue for this product, since notebooks are commonly used for professional reasons. So, reliability is needed, even if speed performance has to be reduced. It can also write CD-R media at 24x and re-write CD-RW media at 16x. Of course, double layer media is supported, and it can write DVD+R9 media at 2.4x.

- Specifications

Drive
NEC ND-6500A
Media
DVD
CD
Transfer Rate Read 8x max (max 11000 kb/s) 24x max (max 3600 kb/s)
Transfer Rate Write DVD-R 8x ZCLV (max 11000 kb/s) CD-R 24x ZCLV (max 3600 kb/s)
DVD-RW 4x CLV (5500 kb/s)
DVD+R 8x ZCLV (max 11000 kb/s) CD-RW 16x CLV (max 2400 kb/s)
DVD+RW 4x CLV (5500 kb/s)
DVD+R9 2.4X CLV (3300 KByte/s)
Access Time 160ms 130ms
Mechanism Tray load mechanism - Vertical operation possible Anti - dust seal PC 2001 Certification MultiRead compliant
Interface IDE/ATAPI Interface with UltraDMA 33(max. 33 MByte/sec transfer rate)
Cashe Memory 2MB - Anti "buffer under run error" system
Media/Modes supported DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-Video, CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, CD-Audio, CD Extra, CD Text, CD-IReady, CD-Bridge, Photo-CD, VideoCD, Hybrid CD
Writing methods DAO(disc at once), SAO(session at once), TAO(track at once) with zero gap, variable or fixed packet, multisession
Compatibility MPC Level 3, MultiRead, PC2001
Dimensions 128mm x 12.7mm x 129mm
Weight 0.19kgr

The drive cannot read DVD-RAM media, it does not support Mount Rainier and it uses the well known RPC II region control, allowing a user to change the drive's region at most 5 times. Below are the drive's main specs as given by NeroInfoTool, VSO Inspector and DVDInfoPro:

- The drive

We received the bulk version of the ND-6500A, which includes the bare minimum. It only includes the drive without any accompanying software discs. On the other hand, since the product is intended to be used with notebook PCs, no cables are required and no mounting screws are needed. We would like to see some software support though, but nowadays, burning software is not so hard to find over the internet.

NEC uses a black front bezel. Observant users might notice that this is a dummy bezel, used for transportation reasons. This bezel can easily be replaced with your laptop DVD bezel. You can see the eject button and the emergency eject hole. The activity led lights up green when the drive is writing or reading.

On the rear panel you will find the one and only universal connector that provides power supply and data communication. This is the standard interface used on all notebook PCs

The following picture shows the rotation mechanism and the laser lens assembly on the NEC ND-6500A. By clicking on the picture, you can see a higher resolution image.

click to enlarge!

- Installation

The device was connected to our test notebook PC and was identified as "NEC DVD+RW ND-6500A" under WinXP. You can see that the booktype option is supported, just as with the NEC ND-2510A.

The drive arrived with v2.22 firmware revision, meanwhile NEC had contacted us to inform us that a new version was available. We flashed the drive successfully with their latest firmware version, v2.23.

In this review, we will be comparing the drive with the LiteOn 832S and the LaCie d2 drive, since all these drives have similar specifications.

- Testing software

In order to perform our tests we used:

  1. Nero CD-DVD Speed v3.55
  2. CDVD Benchmark v1.21
  3. ExactAudioCopy v0.9 beta5
  4. Nero Info Tool v2.27
  5. KProbe v2.4.2
  6. PlexTools v2.17
  7. DVDInfoPro v3.16
  8. Nero Burning Rom v6.6.0.3
  9. DVD Decrypter 3.5.1.0
  10. CopyToDVD 3.0.29.48

2. Transfer Rate Reading Tests

NEC ND-6500A - Page 2

Transfer Rate Reading Tests

- CD Format

The NEC ND-6500A supports up to 24X reading speed (3600kb/sec). Below are the transfer rate graphs along with the comparative results for the LiteOn 832S and the LaCie d2 drive:

The NEC ND-6500A cannot compete with the other two drives when it comes to reading speed, but this was more or less expected since the other two drives support higher reading speeds than the ND-6500A. On the other hand, for a 24X reader, the NEC model performed rather well.

- DVD Format

All three drives can read DVD media discs at 8X. The ND-6500A was the slowest of all and with a significant speed difference. In fact, the ND-6500A is the slowest reader at 8X among all drives that have this as their maximum read speed. On the other hand, as stated in the first page of this review, speed should not be a deciding factor for a drive like this, since it is intended more for professional use where reliability should be the key issue.

The two layers of a PTP DVD-ROM disc are read sequentially with the drive starting reading from the inner part of the disc, which is the beginning of each layer, progressing towards the outer range for each layer. The ND-6500A's reading performance was again not the best with this disc type also.

The first layer of an OTP dual layer DVD-ROM is read exactly the same way as the first layer of the PTP disc we tested previously. The difference here is the reading strategy of the second layer on the disc. The beginning of the second layer is located in the outer part of the disc, so the drive starts reading from the outer tracks towards the inner part of the disc. Again, similar behaviour as before. The NEC burner was the slowest of all three burners.

The ND-6500A can read DVD ±R/±RW media up to 8X. It reported very good reading performace with +R and -R media, but with -RW and +RW media, it was again slower than the other two drives.

As you can probably see in the graph above, reading speed is not a strong point of the NEC ND-6500A.

-Appendix

Nero CD-DVD Speed Graphs


3. CD Error Correction Tests

NEC ND-6500A - Page 3

CD Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we check the drive's behavior when reading scratched / defective audio discs. The test discs used were the ABEX series from ALMEDIO.

- ABEX TCD-721R

Errors total
Num: 1456413
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 173349 Avg: -80.3 dB(A) Max: -18.6 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 5992 Avg: 1.2 Samples Max: 18 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 34 Avg: 6.0 Samples Max: 6 Samples
Total Test Result
64.1 points (out of 100.0 maximum)
C2 Accuracy
98.5 %

The drive did not perform well with this test disc, giving high loudness level (-18.6dB) as well as a high overall error total. The Total Test Result score of 64.1 is also somewhat disappointing.

- ABEX TCD-726

Errors total
Num: 8435
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 12256 Avg: -85.3 dB(A) Max: -11.4 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 322 Avg: 4.2 Samples Max: 18 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 2 Avg: 6.0 Samples Max: 6 Samples
Total Test Result
73.4 points (out of 100.0 maximum)
C2 Accuracy
94.7 %

Usually, most DVD burners can read more easily the Abex TCD-726 test disc, but again, the NEC ND-6500A had problems reading this disc. The drive managed to compile a score of 73.4, which is rather low.

- CD-Check Audio Test Disc

The CD-Check Test Disc is a very useful tool for evaluating the Sound Reproduction / Error correction capabilities of a CD player. The disc offers a signal combination with disc error patterns to rate the drive's abilities to read music and reproduce it completely. Five tracks on the disc contain a sequence of progressively more difficult tests. These tracks are referred to as Check Level-1 through Check Level-5.

The tracks are reproduced through a software multimedia player (i.e. Windows Media Player). Each level is considered as passed, if the tone is smooth, continuous without interruptions, skipping or looping. The higher the Check Level passed, the more reliable the sound reproduction of the tested drive.

Error Level
1
2
3
4
5
NEC ND-6500A
5/5
5/5
2/5
0/5
0/5

Again, the NEC ND-6500A did not perform well with this test disc. Although the fifth track is not easily read by most burners, we expected to read at least track 3 without problems. However, the NEC burner passed only the first two out of the five check levels for this test.

- Summary

Unfortunately, CD error correction with the ND-6500A is below average. Since this NEC model is used as a notebook internal drive, it is meant to be used as a reader as well. We expected to see better performance from a drive of this kind.


4. DVD Error Correction Tests

NEC ND-6500A - Page 4

DVD Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we examined the DVD reading capabilities of the NEC ND-6500A drive with scratched / defective DVD media. For the tests, we used CDVD Benchmark and Nero CDSpeed . The reference test media comes from ALMEDIO.

- Single Layer media

ABEX TDR-821

This is a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM with a 4.7GB capacity, and its surface has an artificial scratch of dimensions varying from 0.4 to 3.0 mm.

The following transfer rate picture comes from the CDVD Benchmark v1.21 transfer rate test.

The ND-6500A managed to complete this operation without errors. It did not even need to lower its speed to read over the scratched area. Very good performance.

ABEX TDR-825

This is also a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM of 4.7GB capacity. The data structure of the disc is exactly the same as that of the TDR-821, with the difference that there are no scratches on it but instead, defective areas of dimensions ranging from 0.5 to 1.1 mm. There are also fingerprints sized from 65 to 75 micrometers.

Again, the clean, straight line indicates very good DVD error correction capabilities, since no errors were reported throughout the reading process.

- Dual Layer media

ABEX TDR-841

This is an 8.5GB dual layer, single sided DVD-ROM disc with artificial scratches of dimensions ranging from 0.4 to 3.0mm, on both layers.

.

The NEC drive read the scratched media without problems, as if there were no scratches at all.

ABEX TDR-845

The disc is a single sided, dual layer DVD-ROM disc with a capacity of 8.5GB. The only difference between the TDR-845 and the TDR-841 is that the first includes defective areas and fingerprints. The dimensions of the defective areas range from 0.5 to 1.1 mm and the fingerprints are sized from 65 to 75 micrometers.

Once more, excellent performance from NEC at this point.

ABEX TDV-541

The TDV-541 is a single sided, dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc, with a capacity of 8.5GB. The disc is based on the TDV-540 series which is designed for inspection and adjustment of DVD-VIDEO players. The disc checks the layer switch operation from layer 0 to layer 1 and also includes test pictures and test signals for DVD sound files.

The current TDV-541 also checks the error correcting capabilities of the drive and includes scratches from 0.4 to 3.0 mm.

click to enlarge!

The ND-6500A read this test disc as if there were no scrathes on it. Usually, NEC based drives lowered their speed after the layer break-point, but in this case, there were no speed drops reported. It started to read at a speed of 1.90X, reached a highest reading speed of 4.56X at the end of the first layer, and reported an average speed of 3.42X.

ABEX TDV-545

The TDV-545 disc is based on the TDV-540 series. It is a single sided, dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc with a capacity of 8.5GB. The TDV-545 includes artificial black dots on the data surface, sized from 0.4 to 1.0 mm. It has also 65 - 75 micro meter fingerprints.

click to enlarge!

Not even this disc was a problem for the ND-6500A model.

- Summary

Although CD error correction was not a strong point of the ND-6500A, it seems to perform extremely well with defective/scratched DVD media. High DVD error correction capabilities from NEC.


5. Protected Disc Tests

NEC ND-6500A - Page 5

Protected Disc Tests

- Reading Tests

To create the image of the various protected titles to the hard disk, we used Alcohol 120% software and the appropriate settings, according to the protection type of the inserted discs. Below you can see the duration of each process as well as the transfer rate in each case.
Game Title
Protection Scheme
Duration
Reading speed
PSX "NBA Jam Extreme"
Lybcrypt
01:04 min
1340 sectors/sec
Serious Sam The Second Encounter v1.07
SafeDisc v.2.60.052
32:53 min
166 sectors/sec
VRally II
SecuROM v.2
3:11 min
1864 sectors/sec

The NEC-ND-6500A was almost as fast as the LaCie drive with PSX games. However, the LiteON drive was the slowest with PSX games, but the fastest of all three with SafeDisc protected games. SecuROM protection was not a problem for the ND-6500A, but it performed slightly slower than the other burners.

- Writing Tests

The NEC ND-6500A supports DAO-RAW writing mode. For checking the drive's EFM correction status, we used 5 different game titles with different SafeDisc 2 versions having the latest software patches installed. After making the images of the various titles onto the hard disk, we burned them (maximum speed) with Alcohol 120% v1.9.2.1705. Two different discs were created for each title; one with the "Bypass EFM error" enabled and one more with the function disabled.

The table below shows the results of the attempted backups and whether they worked (game installed / played normally), or not.

Drive

Fifa 2004
SD v3.1

Sims Superstar SD v2.9
Sims Unleashed SD v2.8
Serious Sam-Second Encounter
SD v2.51.051
Max Payne
SD v2.51.020
EFM OFF
EFM ON
EFM OFF
EFM ON
EFM OFF
EFM ON
EFM OFF
EFM ON
EFM OFF
EFM ON
Toshiba
SD-M1502
No
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Creative CD5233E
Yes
No
Yes
Yes

NEC ND-6500A

Yes
No
Yes
Yes

The NEC ND-6500A cannot produce working backups with the newest v2.8x, v2.9x and v3.1x builds. This was more or less expected since all NEC based drives have the same behaviour with these copy protection methods. Partially working backups were produced for SafeDisc v2.51.051 & v2.51.020.


6. DAE Tests

NEC ND-6500A - Page 6

DAE Tests

- Pressed and CDR AudioCD results

The ND-6500A supports up to 24X CAV DAE speed. The following results were reported when using Exact Audio Copy.

The NEC ND-6500A was slower with both Pressed CD and CDR media. On the other hand, all other drives in this comparison matrix support a faster DAE speed, so this difference in speed was expected.

The NEC ND-6500A drive can report C2 errors, but caching is not supported.

- Advanced DAE Quality

Although very good burners can achieve a perfect quality score of 100, the ND-6500A achieved a score of 95.3, which is good but not perfect. The ND-6500A cannot read Leadin data or Leadout data, but it can read CD Text and Subchannel data. The reported average speed was 12.16X, and it was once again the slowest in the comparison matrix.

- Ripping 90mins AudioCDs

click to enlarge!

The ND-6500A reported an average reading speed of 14.06X, starting the reading process at 9.40X and achieved a maximum speed of 19.55X. 90mins media was not a problem for the NEC ND-6500A.

- Ripping 99mins AudioCDs

Unfortunately, the drive cannot read/rip 99mins CDs, reporting wrong time length and giving the following error message.

It should be noted that 99min Audio CDs have been a problem with all NEC based drives.


7. Protected AudioCDs

NEC ND-6500A - Page 7

Protected AudioCDs

For the test procedure we used three audio discs with different audio copy protections. The ripping process on all protected Audio discs was carried out with Exact Audio Copy v0.9 beta5.

The tested protected Audio discs were:

The Cactus Data Shield 200, contains artificial errors that are not easily bypassed by the reader, while the Key2Audio contains a second session causing problems for readers when trying to read the Table Of Contents (TOC).

The tested tasks are:

The drive recognized up to the 12th Audio track of the CDS200 disc,

and with the "Retrieve Native TOC" option removed, the drive recognized the 13th track.

The test results are shown in the following table:

Key2Audio
CDS200
NEC ND-6500A
Ripping process completed, EAC reports no problems, Read&Test CRC comparison successful for all tracks
Ripping process completed, EAC reports no problems, Read&Test CRC comparison not the same for all tracks

The ND-6500A managed to rip accurately Key2Audio protected discs, and Read&Test CRC comparison was the same for all tracks. On the other hand, the CDS200 protection system could not be 100% accurately copied. Read&Test CRC comparison was not the same for all tracks.

This is a "special" CDS200 build, since it doesn't contain any artificial errors which create problems during the ripping process. Most problems occur when trying to write the ripped wav files, since the produced CD-R disc contains C2 and CU errors! This "problem" is rumored to be connected to specific chipset weaknesses.

We ripped the disc contents with EAC and burned the wav file produced from the Cactus Data Shield 200.0.4 - 3.0 build 16a disc with the latest Nero version as AudioCD+CD-Text. The burned media was checked for C1/C2 errors and for BETA/Jitter errors with PlexTools software using Plextor PX-712SA (firmware v1.05).

CDS 200.0.4 - 3.0 build 16a
NEC ND-6500A
Reading performed without any errors.

The ND-6500A managed to produce an error free back-up disc, according to the C1/C2 graphs.

We then tried to extract all wav files with the Plextor PX-712SA and PlexTool DAE Error Correction 5th Level enabled:

No errors were reported after extracting all files. The drive can backup the disc 100% accurately.


8. CD Recording Tests

NEC ND-6500A - Page 8

CD Recording Tests

- CD-R Format

The NEC ND-6500A supports up to 24X CAV writing. It also uses the JustLink buffer underrun protection technology.

According to Nero CDSpeed, the drive clocked in an average speed of 19.52X. The test started at 11.44X and finished at 25.81X.

click to enlarge!

- CD-R Recording Times

We created an 80min data compilation with Nero Burning Rom and recorded it on a 700MB disc. The writing performance varies according to the inserted media. Below is a chart depicting all recording times with various media.

Not all media could be recorded at the maximum 24X writing speed. Waitec 52X media could only be recorded at 16X. Best performance was reported with Maxell 48X and MMore 52X media, returning a time of 5:01 minutes. Good performance at this speed.

- Other features

The NEC ND-6500A supports overburning up to 90mins at full speed and can both read and write CD-Text.

Unfortunately, the drive cannot overburn more that 90mins, giving the following error message.

- CD-RW Format

The ND-6500A supports up to 16X (Z-CLV) rewriting speeds, with Ultra Speed Rewritable Media (US-RW). Below you can see the Nero CD-DVD Speed writing simulation test with blank 24x US-RW media from Mitsubishi Chemicals.

click to enlarge!

- CD-RW Mount Rainier

The NEC ND-6500A does not support the Mount Rainier feature.


9. Writing Quality Tests - 3T Jitter Tests

NEC ND-6500A - Page 9

Writing Quality Tests - 3T Jitter Tests

On this page we present the 3T Pit & Land Jitter graphs when using various media burned at 16X and 24X writing speeds.

- 3T Pit results

Most media performed very well with the ND-6500A, reporting 3T Pit Jitter values lower than the Red Book limit (35nsec). However, some media reported higher 3T Pit Jitter values, such as Traxdata media that gave a maximum value of 40nsec. Generally, the ND-6500A showed very good performance with these media.

- 3T Land results

Again, average Land Jitter values were lower than the Red Book limit, but with certain media, Land values reached a maximum of 42nsec. However, this was an exception, and the drive performed very well with almost all media tested.

It should be noted though, that the drive can only burn at 24X maximum writing speed, so such good performance was expected since, the lower the writing speed, the better the quality results.


10. Writing Quality Tests - C1 / C2 Error Measurements

NEC ND-6500A - Page 10

Writing Quality Tests - C1 / C2 Error Measurements

We measured the C1/C2 error rate on the recorded discs we burned at the various supported writing speeds. The software we used is PleXTools Professional v2.18, and in particular the built-in Q-Check utility. The reader was the Plextor PX-712SA (firmware v1.05).

BenQ 80min 52X @ 24X

Creation 80min 48X @ 24X

MAXELL 80min 48X @ 24X

MMore 80min 52X @ 24X

Traxdata 80min 52X @ 24X

TY 80min 48X @ 24X

Verbatim 80min 52X @ 24X

Verbatim 80min 52X @ 16X

- Summary

Most media reported very good results, marking the ND-6500A as a good quality CD writer. On the other hand, Maxell and Verbatim media reported C2 errors, but this behaviour does not apply to all media.

- Appendix


11. DVD Recording Tests

NEC ND-6500A - Page 11

DVD Recording Tests

- Writing Performance

The NEC ND-6500A can burn DVD+R and DVD-R media at a maximum speed of 8X, and can Re-Write DVD+RW and DVD-RW media at 4X. Ahead's Nero Burning Rom reported speeds are shown below.

Using Nero CD-DVD Speed with DVD-R and DVD+R media, we are able to see the 8X ZCLV recording strategy being used by the recorder for -R and +R media.

click to enlarge!

click to enlarge!

- Burning Tests

The ND-6500A uses a rather strange DVD-R writing strategy, with the final Z-CLV "step" achieved towards the end of the writing process. This final "step" is not at 8X but at 5.44X. This means that the burner is writing at 4.5X most of the time, and changes to 5.44X near the end of the disc. With this writing strategy, the burner needs more time than other 8X burners to complete a successful burn, which is why the reported burning times are more than 13 minutes. On the other hand, it should be noted that burning quality is the prime consideration with such a burner and not burning speed. Best performance came with TDK DVD-R media (13:35mins).

Again, burning times were slower than with other 8X burners. This happens because the burner cannot in reality use 8X writing speed. The maximum speed allowed with all the media we tested was 6.22X. Best results came with Taiyo Yuden 8X media (10:34mins).

- DVD Overburning Tests

Using Nero CD-DVD Speed, we tested if the NEC ND-6500A can overburn using DVD+R and DVD-R media. The drive does not support overburning, giving the following errors with all inserted media.

- DVD+MRW Tests

The NEC ND-6500A does not support the Mount Rainier feature.


12. CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 1

NEC ND-6500A - Page 12

CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 1

In order to test the writing quality and readability of the burned media we used two readers with two software applications:

In general, a "perfect" disc should have a smooth reading curve, very low PIE/POE and zero (0) POF error rates. Most times however, even though a disc has very low PIE/POE error rates, the reading curve may not be smooth containing dropoffs. Due to the fact that we oversped the reading capabilities of the LiteON SOHD-167T, such drops are expected, especially near the outer area of the disc.

The measurements below should be taken not as the absolute criteria of the burning quality, but as an indication level.

8X DVD-R Writing Speed

- Summary

Very good performance by NEC. Best quality was achieved with Verbatim media. Red peaks are not PO failures but PO correctable errors. All media could be read successfully by our LiteOn reader.


13. CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 2

NEC ND-6500A - Page 13

CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 2

In order to test the writing quality and readability of the burned media we used two readers with two software applications:

In general, a "perfect" disc should have a smooth reading curve, very low PIE/POE and zero (0) POF error rates. Most times however, even though a disc has very low PIE/POE error rates, the reading curve may not be smooth containing dropoffs. Due to the fact that we oversped the reading capabilities of the LiteON SOHD-167T, such drops are expected, especially near the outer area of the disc.

The measurements below should be taken not as the absolute criteria of the burning quality, but as an indication level.

6X DVD-R Writing Speed

- Summary

Again, the NEC burner reported very good quality results with all media burned at 6X. Best performance was achieved with CMC Magnetics 8X media.


14. CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 3

NEC ND-6500A - Page 14

CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 3

In order to test the writing quality and readability of the burned media we used two readers with two software applications:

In general, a "perfect" disc should have a smooth reading curve, very low PIE/POE and zero (0) POF error rates. Most times however, even though a disc has very low PIE/POE error rates, the reading curve may not be smooth containing dropoffs. Due to the fact that we oversped the reading capabilities of the LiteON SOHD-167T, such drops are expected, especially near the outer area of the disc.

The measurements below should be taken not as the absolute criteria of the burning quality, but as an indication level.

4X DVD-R Writing Speed

- Summary

Low PI error values and good quality scans are becoming a key feature of the ND-6500A. On the other hand, a small exception is the Optodisc DVD-R 4X media that could not be scanned with the Plextor burner, but could be read with the LiteOn reader.


15. CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 4

NEC ND-6500A - Page 15

CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 4

In order to test the writing quality and readability of the burned media we used two readers with two software applications:

In general, a "perfect" disc should have a smooth reading curve, very low PIE/POE and zero (0) POF error rates. Most times however, even though a disc has very low PIE/POE error rates, the reading curve may not be smooth containing dropoffs. Due to the fact that we oversped the reading capabilities of the LiteON SOHD-167T, such drops are expected, especially near the outer area of the disc.

The measurements below should be taken not as the absolute criteria of the burning quality, but as an indication level.

8X DVD+R Writing Speed

- Summary

DVD+R burned media quality seems to be as good as with DVD-R burned media. All media tested reported very low PI error values and no PO failures.


16. CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 5

NEC ND-6500A - Page 16

CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 5

In order to test the writing quality and readability of the burned media we used two readers with two software applications:

In general, a "perfect" disc should have a smooth reading curve, very low PIE/POE and zero (0) POF error rates. Most times however, even though a disc has very low PIE/POE error rates, the reading curve may not be smooth containing dropoffs. Due to the fact that we oversped the reading capabilities of the LiteON SOHD-167T, such drops are expected, especially near the outer area of the disc.

The measurements below should be taken not as the absolute criteria of the burning quality, but as an indication level.

6X DVD+R Writing Speed

- Summary

Although Waitec (CMC Magnetics) 8X media reported worse results than Verbatim 8X media, PI error values for both were rather low, and all media could be successfully read by our drives, without generating any errors.


17. CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 6

NEC ND-6500A - Page 17

CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 6

In order to test the writing quality and readability of the burned media we used two readers with two software applications:

In general, a "perfect" disc should have a smooth reading curve, very low PIE/POE and zero (0) POF error rates. Most times however, even though a disc has very low PIE/POE error rates, the reading curve may not be smooth containing dropoffs. Due to the fact that we oversped the reading capabilities of the LiteON SOHD-167T, such drops are expected, especially near the outer area of the disc.

The measurements below should be taken not as the absolute criteria of the burning quality, but as an indication level.

4X DVD+R Writing Speed

- Summary

Although Infosmart media gave the worst quality scan, there were no PO failures with any disc, and most media performance was more than satisfactory. The good news about this drive is that it produces good quality burns with most of the media, at different speeds, although speed is reduced compared with other 8X burners.


18. CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 7

NEC ND-6500A - Page 18

CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 7

In order to test the writing quality and readability of the burned media we used two readers with two software applications:

In general, a "perfect" disc should have a smooth reading curve, very low PIE/POE and zero (0) POF error rates. Most times however, even though a disc has very low PIE/POE error rates, the reading curve may not be smooth containing dropoffs. Due to the fact that we oversped the reading capabilities of the LiteON SOHD-167T, such drops are expected, especially near the outer area of the disc.

The measurements below should be taken not as the absolute criteria of the burning quality, but as an indication level.

2.4X DVD+R Writing Speed

- Summary

When 8X and 4X writing speed was used, the burner reported very good quality scans. However, we were expecting to see better results as the writing speed is further reduced. Of course, this does not mean that results were not acceptable, but they were worse than all the 4X and 8X scans. It should be noted that except for Philips media, all other media cannot be clasified as "A" grade.


19. CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 8

NEC ND-6500A - Page 19

CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 8

In order to test the writing quality and readability of the burned media we used two readers with two software applications:

In general, a "perfect" disc should have a smooth reading curve, very low PIE/POE and zero (0) POF error rates. Most times however, even though a disc has very low PIE/POE error rates, the reading curve may not be smooth containing dropoffs. Due to the fact that we oversped the reading capabilities of the LiteON SOHD-167T, such drops are expected, especially near the outer area of the disc.

The measurements below should be taken not as the absolute criteria of the burning quality, but as an indication level.

DVD+RW and DVD-RW Media

- Summary

Writing re-writable media is a key issue for this drive. Since the drive is geared towards notebook users where data storage and reliability are a prime consideration, we were happy to see that all quality scans were rather good with this media type.


20. DVD+R DL - Page 1

NEC ND-6500A - Page 20

DVD+R DL - Page 1

- Writing Tests

We burned some DVD+R DL discs with DVD-Video content. The source disc was "Gladiator Movie - Special Edition" disc1 with a total size of 6.86GB. First we transferred the movie to the hard disc with DVD Decrypter as ISO format (single file). We used Double Layer media provided by Traxdata and Verbatim (MKM). The following snapshot shows the media code for these Double Layer discs.

We then used the latest version of CopyToDVD with Traxdata Double Layer media, and specifically the "Movie & Pictures" option, and then "Write DVD Video". The software prompts us to select Video_TS/ISO image folder. We chose the "GLADIATOR.ISO" image and we selected the NEC ND-6500A burner.

After pressing "OK", the burning procedure started. It should be noted that we did not change the default booktype setting prior to writing the disc to idenify the default booktype setting for this media type.

The writing process finished after 37:48 minutes, a very good time for 2.4X double layer writing. The average speed was 2.34X as reported by the CopyToDVD software.

The second disc we burned was Verbatim Double Layer media. Recording time was reduced to 37:42 minutes and the average speed reported was 2.35X:

For comparison reasons, we post DL burning results from other writers, with the same disc content and same recording software:

Drive
Time (mins)
TDK 1616N
22:51
NEC ND-3500A
22:52
ASUS DRW-1604P (4X)
23:10
Pioneer DVR-108A (4X)
23:10
NEC 2510A
37:17
NEC ND-6500A
37:42
ASUS DRW-1604P (2.4X)
38:08
LG GSA-4120B
38:12
Pioneer DVR-108A (2.4X)

38:23

LiteON SOHW-832S DVD+R DL BookType
38:33
LiteON SOHW-832S DVD-ROM BookType
38:36
SONY DRU-700A

38:39

BenQ DW830A
39:14
BenQ DW1620A
40:03
BenQ DW1600A DL
40:16

As you can see, the ND-6500A is not the fastest double layer burner, but for 2.4X writing speed, it performs very well.


21. DVD+R DL - Page 2

NEC ND-6500A - Page 21

DVD+R DL - Page 2

- Writing Quality

In order to examine the NEC ND-6500A's DVD+R DL writing quality, we used the LiteOn SOHD-167T and the Plextor PX-712SA drives.

The ND-6500A kept on producing good quality discs, even with double layer media. However, a small drawback is that the default booktype is set to DVD+R DL, reducing compatibility with stand-alone DVD players.


22. BookType Setting

NEC ND-6500A - Page 22

BookType Setting

Although the default booktype setting for double layer media is set to DVD+R DL, the NEC ND-6500A allows this booktype setting to be changed. By now, most users might already be familiar with several utilities that can be used for this purpose.

Using the latest DVDInfoPro software, we were able to see the default setting for the drive, which was DVD+R DL. DVDInfoPro can also be used to change the default booktype setting.

We also used the WinBType booktype setting utility. Again, we had no problem changing the default booktype to DVD-ROM.


23. Conclusion

NEC ND-6500A - Page 23

Conclusion

You can see many similarities between the ND-6500A and the previous ND-2510A model. Of course, the ND-6500A model is mainly targeted for notebook users, while the ND-2510A is intended to be used with desktop PCs. Another difference is CD writing speed, with the ND-6500A being slower than the ND-2510A. Although the ND-6500A does not support the fastest available speeds on the market, it is the fastest available for slim drives.

Laptop users need an all-in-one drive to be used as a reader and as a burner at the same time. This means that more attention should be given to CD/DVD error correction and CD/DVD media burning quality, and less to speed. NEC appears to follow this line of thinking, reducing writing speed and increasing burning quality for both CD and DVD media.

The ND-6500A performed extremely well in our DVD error correction tests, but CD error correction could be further improved. DAE speed is rather low, it cannot make SafeDisc 2.60+ backups and cannot recognize 99 minute discs.

With double layer media, the drive's burning quality remains high, but the default booktype setting is set to DVD+R DL. Of course this bit-setting can be changed with several utilities already in use with former NEC ND models.

In general, the drive can be described in a few words as a good but slow reader, and a good quality (but again slow) burner. However, as already stated in this review, speed is not as important as quality for a drive of this kind.

- The Good

- The Bad

- Like To be fixed



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