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Appeared on: Monday, May 30, 2005
Rewritable Media Tests


1. Introduction

The DVD±RW formats have become very popular, mostly because they offer a convenient way to transport large amounts of information from one PC to another, on a single disc at low cost in comparison to other media such as USB flash disks which as yet don't offer the same capacities. Rewritable discs also allow for experimenting when creating master discs for duplication. In this case, the same RW disc can be used again and again, something that is not possible with ±R media where a new disc would be required each time. Moreover most standalone CD/DVD recorder owners choose the rewritable formats because they can author/edit their movies on the same disc, even after recording has finished, as with VR mode for example.

The cost of rewritable media is higher in comparison to plain recordable media. And there have been quite a few occassions where we have been asked by our readers "how many times can I rewrite on my RW" or "how is the writing quality affected after several burnings". For this reason we decided to run some basic tests, rewriting CD and DVD RW media "a lot of times" while at the same time measuring the writing quality.

We wrote our own utility which is capable of writing one file or several files/directories over and over again on the same disc, performing either a quick, full format, or a combination of both between rewrites of a continuous batch of burnings, in order to find out when RW media begins to degrade and at what point it will become useless. We set our utility to perform continuous cycles of single burnings with a quick erase between each burn. After a specific number of burnings (1, 5, 10, 50 and 100), we took quality measurements with Plextools and CDSpeed. The recording project for the CD-RW was an audio file of 650MB capacity and for the DVDRW a movie file of 4.21GB capacity.

Our first goal was to burn and reburn all the media until they were no longer writeable. However, after the first tests we did, we decided to perform only up to 100 burns since the time needed, especially for the DVDRW formats was too much. According to Verbatim, their RW media can perform up to 1000 burns while other media at least 500. If we try to estimate that a full DVDRW burn needs approximately 14 minutes, then the time for the whole project would take months to complete (each DVD RW disc would need around 230 hours at 1000 burns, each 14 minutes long).

The ID codes of the media we used for our tests are presented in the following tables:

DVD Media Code ID Speed Format
CMC Magnetics CMC MAG W02 4X DVD+RW
CMC Magnetics PHILIPS 041 4X DVD+RW
Datawrite PRODISC W02 4X DVD+RW
Maxell PHILIPS 041 4X DVD+RW
Memorex RICOHJPNW01 4X DVD+RW
Mitsubishi MKM A02 4X DVD+RW
Mitsubishi MCC01RW4X 4X DVD-RW
Mitsubishi MKM01RW6X01 6X DVD-RW
Optodisc OPTODISC OP4 4X DVD+RW
Optodisc OPTODISCR004 4X DVD-RW
Philips RITEK 004 4X DVD+RW
Traxdata RICOHJPNW11 4X DVD+RW
Traxdata RITEK W04 4X DVD-RW
Traxdata RITEK W06 6X DVD-RW
Waitec PHILIPS 041 4X DVD+RW

CD Media Code ID Speed
Mitsubishi Verbatim 97m34s24f 24X
Plextor 97m27s00f 24X
Philips CMC Magnetics 97m26s65f 10X

For our tests, Pioneer had kindly supplied us with 10 DVR-108 burners. We would like to add that each disc needed over 24 hours of continuous recording and none of the Pioneer drives reported any problems during the tests which revealed the reliability of the Pioneer drives, even under such gruelling conditions.

Drive Pioneer DVR-108
Media DVD CD
Transfer Rate Read 16X CAV SL DVD-ROM
12X CAV DL DVD-ROM
40X CD-ROM CAV
12X CAV DVD±R
8X CAV DVD±RW 32X CD-RW CAV
2X CLV DVD-RAM
8X CAV DVD+R9
Transfer Rate Write 16X DVD±R Z-CLV 32X CD-R Z-CLV
4X DVD±RW CLV 24X CD-RW Z-CLV
4 DVD+R9 CLV
Access Time 145ms 125ms
Mechanism motorized Tray load mechanism for horizonal and vertical use
Interface IDE / ATAPI
Burst Transfer Rate PIO mode 4 / Ultra DMA 33
Cashe Memory 2MB
Supported Media formats DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-Video, DVD-RAM, CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, CD-Audio, CD Extra, CD Text, CD-IReady, CD-Bridge, Photo-CD, VideoCD, Hybrid CD
Audio headphone jack and volume control at front plus digital-out and line-out at the back (MPC compatible)
Writing methods DAO(disc at once), SAO(session at once), TAO(track at once) with zero gap, variable or fixed packet, multisession
Weight 1.1kgr
Dimensions 148(W) × 42.3(H) × 198(D) mm

In the two cases of 6X DVD-RW media from Traxadata and Mitsubishi Chemicals, we used the Pioneer DVD-109instead of the DVD-108, due to its 6X supported writing speed for the DVD-RW format.

- DVD Writing Quality Measurements Method

In order to test the writing quality and readability of the burned media after the 1st, 5th, 10th, 50th and 100th burns, 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 in the following pages should be taken not as the absolute criteria of the burning quality, but as an indication level.

- CD Writing Quality Measurements Method

For checking the writing quality of the CD media, we used the Plextools C1/C2 Test. The reader was once again Plextor PX-712A

- Testing software

  1. Nero CD-DVD Speed v3.75
  2. PlexTools v2.20

More information about our test PC is included in the table below:

Test PC
CPU Intel Celeron 2.66Ghz
RAM DDR 2X256Mb/400Mhz
M/B Asus P4P800-X
HD Western Digital WD 800JB 7200RPM 8MB cache

2. CMC Magnetics DVD+RW (CMCMAGW02)

The specific CMC Magnetics DVD+RW disc has the CMC MAG W02 ID code, manufactured by CMC Magnetics and its certified speed is 4X. It was burned at this speed.

#1 recording

#5 recordings

#10 recordings

#50 recordings

#100 recordings

The writing quality after the first burning was not good, with high PIE error levels and a lot of fluctuations in speed after the 2.5 GB mark showing up in the CDSpeed graph. However after the five burnings, the writing qality has improved markedly. The PIE error levels decreased from 388 to 12 and the CDSpeed graph was as smooth as it gets. It seems that the specific media needs some burns first in order to give good quality results. Even after 100 burns, the writing quality was near perfect. Note that after each burn, as we mentioned in the introduction of this article, we had set our software to perform a quick erase.


3. CMC Magnetics DVD+RW (PHILIPS 041)

The specific CMC Magnetics DVD+RW disc has the PHILIPS 041 ID code, manufactured by CMC Magnetics and its certified speed is 4X. It was burned at this speed.

#1 recording

#5 recordings

#10 recordings

#50 recordings

#100 recordings

After the first burning, the writing quality was good with PIE error levels below the limit of 280 and the CDSpeed graph smooth. The writng quality once again becomes even better after the first couple of burns. Finally, after 100 burns the disc continues to produce low PIE error levels and its readability at 16X was excellent.


4. Datawrite DVD+RW (PRODISCW02)

The specific Datawrite DVD+RW disc has the PRODISC W02 ID code and its certified speed is 4X. It was burned at this speed.

#1 recording

#5 recordings

#10 recordings

#50 recordings

#100 recordings

The specific media reported excellent writing quality after the first burn which it retains up to at least the tenth burn and beyond. When we reached the fiftieth burn, the writng quality was still good but not as good as the first burns. The PIE error levels, although they were much lower than the 280 limit, are increased in comparison with those of the previous measuremts taken after one, five and ten burnings. However after 100 burns, the disc was still good and playable.


5. Maxell DVD+RW (PHILIPS 041)

The specific Maxell DVD+RW disc has the PHILIPS 041 ID code and its certified speed is 4X. It was burned at this speed.

#1 recording

#5 recordings

#10 recordings

#50 recordings

#100 recordings

Excellent writing quality and playability for the specific media. Once again, it seems the first burns are a necessity to improve writing quality.


6. Memorex DVD+RW (RICOHJPNW01)

The specific Memorex DVD+RW disc has the RICOHJPNW01 ID code, manufactured by Ricoh and its certified speed is 4X. It was burned at this speed.

#1 recording

#5 recordings

#10 recordings

#50 recordings

#100 recordings

The writng quality and the playability of the specific disc is great from the first burning and continues to be the same, even after 100 recordings.


7. Verbatim DVD+RW (MKM A02)

The specific Verbatim DVD+RW disc has the MKM A02 ID code, manufactured by Mitsubishi Kagaku Media, and its certified speed is 4X. It was burned at this speed.

#1 recording

#5 recordings

#50 recordings

#100 recordings

The writng quality is great for more than 50 burns. Low PIE error rates and smooth CDSpeed reading graphs. The writng quality after 100 recordings is still good but it seems that the media is starting to feel the effects as burnings increase.


8. Verbatim DVD-RW (MCC01RW4X)

The specific Verbatim DVD-RW disc has the MCC01RW4X ID code, manufactured by Mitsubishi Chemicals and its certified speed is 4X. It was burned at this speed.

#1 recording

#5 recordings

#10 recordings

#50 recordings

#100 recordings

Good writing quality with the specific media. The error levels are rather low. However, in all cases at the end of the disc there were fluctuations in the speed which seemed to get worse as the burn count progreesed.


9. Mithubishi DVD-RW (MKM01RW6X01)

The specific Mithubishi DVD-RW disc has the MKM01RW6X01 ID code, manufactured Mitsubishi Kagaku Media and its certified speed is 6X. It was burned at this speed.

#1 recording

#5 recordings

#10 recordings

#50 recordings

#100 recordings

The writing quality proved to be perfect no matter how many times the disc has been burned, even though the speed was 6X. There is very little difference between the first and hundredth burn indicating very consistent quality.


10. Optodisc DVD+RW (OPTODISCOP4)

The specific Optodisc DVD+RW disc has the OPTODISC OP4 ID code, manufactured by Optodisc and its certified speed is 4X. It was burned at this speed.

s

#1 recording

#5 recordings

#10 recordings

#50 recordings

#100 recordings

The writing quality measurements after the first burn were not good and CDSpeed produced an "UNRECOVERED ERROR" near the end of the reading procedure. We also saw POF errors. After the fifth burn, the PIE error count and level decreased a lot but CDSpeed showed that yet another disc had problems towards the end (outer region of the writing surface).


11. Optodisc DVD-RW (OPTODISCR004)

The specific Optodisc DVD-RW disc has the OPTODISCR004 ID code, manufactured by Optodisc itself and its certified speed is 4X. It was burned at this speed.

#1 recording

#5 recordings

#10 recordings

#50 recordings

#100 recordings

The rather prominent speed fluctuations at the end of reading illustrates that the writing quality is not as good as it should. The PIE and POE totals as well as their levels increased as burnings progressed.


12. Philips DVD+RW (RITEK 004)

The specific Philips DVD+RW disc has the RITEK 004 ID code, manufactured by Ritek and its certified speed is 4X. It was burned at this speed.

#1 recording

#5 recordings

#50 recordings

#100 recordings

Very good writing quality even after 100 burns with low PIE error rates. Again though, we witness another disc with speed fluctuations occurring at the end of the media, even from the first burn. The only difference with this disc being that it didn't get any worse as the number of burns increased.


13. Traxdata DVD+RW (RICOHJPNW11)

The specific Traxdata DVD+RW disc has the RICOHJPNW11 ID code, manufactured by Ricoh and its certified speed is 4X. It was burned at this speed.

#1 recording

#5 recordings

#10 recordings

#50 recordings

#100 recordings

The writng quality is quality is good and stable throughout the 100 burns. The PIE error rates are low. CDSpeed again reported some fluctuations in the speed at the end of the reading process.


14. Traxdata DVD-RW (RITEKW04)

The specific Traxdata DVD-RW disc has the RITEKW04 ID code, manufactured by Ritek and its certified speed is 4X. It was burned at this speed.

#1 recording

#5 recordings

#50 recordings

#100 recordings

The writing quality is constant throughout the 100 burns. Although the PIE error rates are low, the POE count is high and the Plextools graphs are not the best we've seen. Another disc with speed fluctuations but this time starting from just past half way.


15. Traxdata DVD-RW (RITEKW06)

The specific Traxdata DVD-RW disc has the RITEKW06 ID code, manufactured by Ritek and its certified speed is 6X. It was burned at this speed.

#1 recording

#5 recordings

#5 recordings

#50 recordings

#100 recordings

Amazing writing quality for the new 6X DVD-RW media from Traxdata. The PIE and POE error levels and counts are very low during the 100 burns and the graphs from CDSpeed smooth in most cases.


16. Waitec DVD+RW (PHILIPS 041)

The specific Waitec DVD+RW disc has the PHILIPS 041 code and its certified speed is 4X. It was burned at this speed.

#1 recording

#5 recordings

#5 recordings

#50 recordings

#100 recordings

In all cases the PIE error rates are low while the reading graphs from CDSpeed as smooth as it gets. It seems that the specific media maitains its excellent writing quality and playability even after 100 burnings.


17. Verbatim CD-RW (97m34s24f)

The specific Verbatim CD-RW disc has the 97m34s24f ID code, manufactured by Mitsubishi Chemicals and its certified speed is 24X. It was burned at this speed.

#1 recording

#5 recordings

#5 recordings

#50 recordings

#100 recordings

 

It seems, according to C1 reported errors, that the wiritng quality for the CD-RW media improves as the burnings increase. In the first tests we performed, we saw the specific media having the same behaviour even after 500 burns. The C2 errors started appearing after a while and we stopped the tests somewhere after 600 burnings.


18. Plextor (97m27s00f)

The specific Plextor CD-RW disc has the 97m27s00f ID code, and its certified speed is 24X. It was burned at this speed.

#1 recording

#5 recordings

#10 recordings

#50 recordings

#100 recordings

 

After the first burn, the C1 count is very high as are the levels, especially towards the end. After the fifth burn however, both the count and the levels indicate excellent burning, so once again we have the phenomenon which dictates at least one initial burn to settle in the disc. The excellent quality is still ther after 100 burns.


19. Philips CD-RW (97m26s65f)

The specific Philips CD-RW disc has the 97m26s65f code, manufactured by CMC Magnetics and its certified speed is 12X. The tests were done at 10X.

#1 recording

#5 recordings

#5 recordings

#50 recordings

#100 recordings

The C1 error levels are low, even after 100 burns. The writng quality for the specific media was extremely stable throughout the tests.


20. Conclusion

I think there is not a lot to say. The tests spoke for themselves. What we did witness and it seems to be the case with most of the media we tested, is that they all need a couple writes/erasures in order to "settle in" afterwhich we had lower levels and fewer errors. Most media also produced fluctuations in speed near the end (outer edge) of the media. In almost all cases, the writing quality was good while in some, simply excellent. This is also due to the good writing quality of the Pioneer drives we used. After 100 burns, the media were all still in good condition for which we didn't have any doubt since most manufacturers declare 500 burns or more as their limit. The Pioneer drives also showed no signs of fatigue.

It is highly possible that in the near future, we will update this review with more recordings, on the same ofcourse media. For this reason stay tuned...

 



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