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Appeared on: Tuesday, June 21, 2005
BenQ DW1625


1. Introduction

One of the latest releases from BenQ labs is the BenQ DW1625, a 16X/8X DVD burner. It is similar to the 1620 model but does not support 16X/16X as the 1620 does. The main feature of this drive is the LightScribe technology. In a previous review from CDRInfo, we were introduced to LightScribe and how it works as well as a comparison between 3 Lightscribe drives, one of them being the BenQ DW1625. In this review however, we will be taking a brief look at how the 1625 performs as a DVD burner.

The DW1625 can burn up to 16X and 4X speeds with DVD+R and +RW media, and up to 8X and 4X speeds with DVD-R and-RW media. It can also produce a full DL disc in almost 24mins at 2.4X burning speed.

- Drive Features

BenQ's exclusive Write Right Technology utilizes two powerful features: Tilt Control and WOPC II (Walking Optimal Power Control II). By using these features, the DW1625 is able to maintain perfect control over both the laser beam angle and the power rate being projected onto the disc, ensuring every bit of your data is written at the best possible quality.

WOPC + BLER OPC: Unlike other drives which preset the writing power before the actual writing of data, the WOPC II (Walking Optimal Power Control) algorithm evaluates the writing quality constantly and adjusts the writing power accordingly, in order to ensure the best possible writing quality over the entire disc. The BLER OPC (Block Error Rate Optimal Power Control) further enhances the writing quality near the end of the disc, where the risk of warping is higher.

WOPC strategy...

Tilt Control: BenQ's Tilt Control always keeps the writing angle at 90 degrees to the disc's surface to ensure uniform writing.

- Specifications

Performance [DVD+R DL]
Data Transfer Rate /double layer write: 26.59 Mbit/sec (2.4X)

[DVD+R/+RW]
Data Transfer Rate /write: 177.28 Mbit/sec (16X)
Data Transfer Rate /rewrite: 44.32 Mbit/sec (4X)
*DVD+R LightScribe available @ 1x with LightScribe discs.

[DVD-R/-RW]
Data Transfer Rate /rewrite: 88.64 Mbit/sec (8X)
Data Transfer Rate /rewrite: 44.32 Mbit/sec (4X)

[DVDROM]
Data Transfer Rate /read: 177.28 Mbit/sec (16X, Max.)
Access time: 120 ms

[CD]
Data Transfer Rate /write: 6000 KByte/sec (40X)
Data Transfer Rate /rewrite: 3600 KByte/sec (24X)
Data Transfer Rate /read: 6000 KByte/sec (40X, Max.)
*CDR LightScribe available @ 1x with LightScribe discs.
Access time: 120 ms

Interface E-IDE/ATAPI
Supported IDE Mode PIO mode 0/1/2/3/4
DMA mode 0/1/2
UDMA mode 0/1/2
Buffer Size 2MB
Firmware Upgrade Flash memory upgradable
Writing Mode [DVD]
DVD Data and Video

[CD]
Track-at-Once, Disc-at-Once, Multisession, Packet Writing (fixed & variable packet), CD Digital Audio, Direct-Over-Write on CD-RW, Test Write

Disc Size [DVD] 120 mm disc
[CD] 80 and 120 mm discs
Disc Formats [DVD]
DVD+R DL 8.5GB, DVD Video, DVD-5, DVD-9, DVD-10, DVD-18, DVD+RW 4.7GB, DVD+R 4.7GB, LightScribe DVD+R, DVD-RW 4.7GB (Closed Session), DVD-R 4.7GB

[CD]
CD-DA, CD-ROM XA (m1, m2f1/m2f2), CD-R, LightScribe CD-R, CD-RW, Bootable CD, Photo CD (Single & Multi-session), Video CD, Super Video CD, CD-Extra, Mixed-mode CD, CD-Text

Power Requirement +5V ± 5%, ripple: 100mVpp
+12V ± 10%, ripple: 200mVpp
Environment Conditions Operating temperature: 5oC~50oC at humidity of 8-80% RH
Non-operating temperature: -40oC ~60oC at humidity 5%~95% RH
Reliability Characteristics MTBF: 125,000 POH (20%)
Non-recoverable read error < 1 block in 1012 bits (CD and DVD)
Physical Characteristics Dimensions: 146 X 42 X 198 mm (W x H x D)
Weight: 1.0 Kg
OS Compatibility Windows XP / 2000 / ME / 98SE
*QVideo and QSuite are supported by Windows XP and 2000 only.
Minimum System Requirement • IBM PC compatible
• Pentium III 550MHz CPU
• 128MB RAM
• 100MB free HDD space for CD/DVD recording related software installation
• 1GB free HDD space for CD image recording (10GB for DVD authoring) is recommended.

The drive uses the well known RPC II region control, allowing the user to change the drive's region at most 5 times. Below are the drive's main specs as given by NeroInfoTool and DVDInfoPro:

- Retail Package

The retail package that arrived in our labs, included the DW1625 model, a software disc with Nero 6 Suite, Nero LightScribe v.1.0.13.1, InCD v.4.3.11.1, QVideo 2 v.5.2.3.23, QSuite v.1.0 and the user's manuals. We also received a small presentation of LightScribe technology. BenQ also included 2 blank media in the retail package, one CD LightScribe media and one DVD LightScribe media. It should be noted that this was the first LightScribe product to include LightScribe DVD media in the retail package, since both HP and Philips products only had CD LightScribe media. As you can see, this is a retail package that will satisfy most users.

The drive is available in two colors, beige and black. We received the beige colored drive. The front panel is almost the same as the DW1620 model, expect for the LightScribe logo.

On the rear panel you can see the analogue and digital outputs (SPDIF), the IDE connector and the power input.

Removing the screws and opening the drive's cover voids the drive's warranty. For reference reasons, we post the following pictures. You can click on the mainboard picture for a higher resolution image:

The DW1625 model uses the Philip's Nexperia PNX7860E chipset.

- Installation

The drive arrived with firmware revision BBAA and since BenQ sent us their newest firmware release, we flashed the drive without problems to firmware revision BBEA.

The drive was installed with no problems under WindowsXP and it was recognized as "BENQ DVD DL DW1625".

For comparison reasons, we will be reviewing the DW 1625 against two other similar in specs drives, the Waitec Action 16 and the LG 4160B.

- Testing software

In order to perform our tests we used:

  1. Nero CD-DVD Speed v3.80
  2. CDVD Benchmark v1.21
  3. ExactAudioCopy v0.9 beta5
  4. Nero Info Tool v3.00
  5. PlexTools v2.23
  6. DVDInfoPro v3.51
  7. Nero Burning Rom v6.6.0.13
  8. DVD Decrypter 3.5.4.0
  9. CopyToDVD 3.0.54
  10. Alcohol 120% 1.9.5 build 2802

2. Transfer Rate Reading Tests

- CD Format

The BenQ DW1625A DL supports up to 40X reading speed.

The BenQ drive performed well in all three reading transfer tests. The Waitec drive was the fastest reading pressed and CDR media, due to its 48X max supported reading speed as opposed to 40X for both the other drives. The BenQ drive was fastest reading 24X USRW media with a small difference from the LG drive and a significant difference from the Waitec which only supports a max 32X max reading speed.

-DVD Format

The DW1625A can read PTP Single Layer DVD-ROM discs at 16X CAV. All drives reported the same speeds more or less, with the LG the fastest.

With a PTP DVD-ROM disc, the starting point for both layers is at the inner part of the disc. The drive reads from the beginning of each layer (inner part) progressing towards the outer part of the disc. Again, all drives reported similar speeds, with negligible speed differences between them.

With an OTP Dual Layer disc, the first layer structure is the same as the first layer on a PTP disc. The drive reads the first layer exactly the same way as PTP discs, and at the same speed. The starting point of the second layer of an OTP disc however, is located at the outer part of the disc. The reported average speed was 6.00X (3~8CAV)

With DVD±R the LG drive reported the highest speeds, while with DVD+RW all drives reported similar speeds. With DVD-RW media, the BenQ drive was twice as fast as the LG and Waitec drives. The strange thing here is that the BenQ drive is very consistent at around 6.2X and with -RW, it has suddenly produced 12X reading speed.

The DW1625 reported an average of 8929 kB/s which is a very good performance although not one of the fastest, but still a good, fast ripper.

-Appendix

Nero CD-DVD Speed Graphs


3. DVD Error Correction Tests

In the following tests, we examine the DVD reading capabilities of the 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 DW1625 BenQ drive did not encounter any problems whatsoever during this error correction test with scratched DVD-ROM media. Climbing up to 16X speed, it passed smoothly over the defective area.

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 between 65 and 75 micrometers.

Once again, error free reading, indicating great error correction with the 1625 drive.

- 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.

Smooth graph all the way to the end and over both layers.

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 micro meters.

As we can see, the 845 test disc was no problem for the DW 1625 drive's mechanism, producing yet another smooth graph.

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.

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 also has 65 - 75 micrometer fingerprints.

Both graphs show excellent error correction mechanism. All smooth to the end of the reading except for a small drop in speed with the 545 test disc. Well done.


4. DAE Tests

- Pressed and CDR AudioCD results

The DW1625 supports up to 40X CAV DAE speed. The following results were reported when using Exact Audio Copy.

Very good performance by all three drives. The Waitec Action 16 was fastest due to its 48X maximum supported reading speed.

- Advanced DAE Quality

The DW1625 achieved a perfect quality score of 100 in Nero's CD Speed Advanced DAE test. The drive can read Leadin data, CD Text and Subchannel data, but cannot read Leadout data. The reported average speed was 28.14X.

- Ripping 90mins AudioCDs

The drive could not successfully rip the 90mins audio CD.

- Ripping 99mins AudioCDs

However, that was not the case with the 99mins CD, which was ripped successfully.


5. CD Recording Tests

- CD-R Format

The drive supports 8X, 12X, 16X (CLV), 32X and 40X (P-CAV) writing speeds.

According to Nero CDSpeed, the drive reached the maximum 40X speed. The test started at 17.74X and finished at 39.98X having an average speed of 30.32X.

- Other features

The DW1625 supports overburning, writing up to 99min. and can read/write CD-Text.

- CD-RW Format

The DW1625 supports 16X CLV and 24X P-CAV rewriting speeds with Ultra Speed Rewritable Media (US-RW). The drive also writes at 4X/10X CLV with HS-RW discs, while NS (1~4X) CD-RW media is not supported. Below you can see the Nero CD-DVD Speed writing simulation test with blank 24x US-RW media from Mitsubishi Chemicals. The average writing speed was 23.47X

- CD-RW Mount Rainier Tests

The BenQ DW1625 does not support the Mount Rainier format.


6. DVD Recording Tests

- Writing Performance

The maximum supported speed for DVD+R is 16X (6X~16X CAV), 8X P-CAV for DVD-R, 4X CLV for DVD±RW and 2.4X for DVD+R DL media.

By using Nero CD-DVD Speed's "create disc" function, we are able to see the 16X recording technology being used by the DW1625 burner.

The drive completed successful DVD writing at 16X in 6:17mins. It started writing at 5.58X, reached a maximum writing speed of 15.99X and clocked in an average speed of 11.42X.

Below is a table with several 12X and 16X burners, reporting their average writing speeds as measured by Nero CDDVDSpeed, showing that the BenQ DW1625 is the fastest 16X recorder:

Drive
Writing Strategy
Writing Speed
Average
Writing Speed
BenQ DW1625
CAV
16X
11.42X
Plextor PX-712A
P-CAV
12X
10.62X
ASUS DRW-1604P
Z-CLV
16X
10.11X
Pioneer DVR-108A
Z-CLV
16X
10.03X
LG GSA-4120B
Z-CLV
12X
9.87X

- Supported media list/Burning Tests

We burned 4315MB of data on various DVD±R, DVD±RW media. We used the maximum allowed writing speed for each disc.

- Writing Time Results

- Comparison with other drives

With DVD+R and -R media, the BenQ burner was very close to being the fastest, only 1 second behind the LG GSA-4160B in both cases.

With DVD+RW/-RW media, the BenQ burner was the slowest among the three where with DVD-RW media, the difference was around 40 secs.

- DVD Overburning Test

Overburning is not supported with DVD+R media.

- DVD+MRW Tests

The drive doesn't support the Mount Rainier feature.


7. 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:
  • The LiteON SOHD-167T with patched firmware being able to read DVD5 up to 16X CAV and DVD9 up to 10X CAV. For the transfer rate tests we used the latest Nero CDSpeed version.
  • The Plextor PX-716A with the latest available firmware. For scanning the disc, we used the latest PlexTools version at 2X CLV reading speed, BURST mode, with middle accuracy.

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 overspeed 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.

16X DVD+R Writing Speed

- Summary

We were glad to see that in most cases, the test reported low PI and smooth scans, indicating good burning quality at 16X burning speed using DVD+R media.


8. 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:
  • The LiteON SOHD-167T with patched firmware being able to read DVD5 up to 16X CAV and DVD9 up to 10X CAV. For the transfer rate tests we used the latest Nero CDSpeed version.
  • The Plextor PX-712A with the latest available firmware. For scanning the disc, we used the latest PlexTools version at 2X CLV reading speed, BURST mode, with middle accuracy.

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 overspeed 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

Great writing quality at 8X burning speed, which is the maximum speed supported for DVD-R media.


9. CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 3

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

  • The LiteON SOHD-167T with patched firmware being able to read DVD5 up to 16X CAV and DVD9 up to 10X CAV. For the transfer rate tests we used the latest Nero CDSpeed version.
  • The Plextor PX-716A with the latest available firmware. For scanning the disc, we used the latest PlexTools version at 2X CLV reading speed, BURST mode, with middle accuracy.

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 overspeed 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±RW Writing Speed

- Summary

Average good burning quality with DVD+RW and -RW media. Some high error levels and not completely smooth graphs. This is something that a possible future firmware release could address.


10. Writing Quality Tests - Almedio AEC-1000

The AEC-1000 consists of a DVD Drive and the "ALChecker" error measurement application which can check the written data quality. The application is capable of 1X CLV measurement as well as 4X CLV on DVD-Video/ROM and finalized DVD+R/-R media.

There are three measurement modes:

The checking status is shown graphically in real time while you can save the error graph at the end of the test. The reported errors are the PI and the UncPO. In the case of PI, it counts the number of rows corrected by the PI error correction in each group of eight consecutive ECC blocks. In the case of UncPO, it counts the number of ECC blocks in which more than one byte is uncorrectable in eight consecutive ECC blocks. For our quality scans, we set for 1X CLV and Fine Mode which is the slowest and with the safest results. Also, we chose to measure all the media burned at the maximum available writing speed, namely 16X.

The Almedio AEC-1000 quality test is known for its strict criteria and as such is the ultimate judge on the quality of burned media. In this case, as we can see from the above scans, the BenQ drive managed to get a "Condition is Good " on three of the four media tested, while the PI levels are low in the first three cases. Excellent burning quality, even at 16X burning speed.


11. DVD+R DL - Page 1

- Writing Tests

We burned two 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 in ISO format (single file). Afterwards, we used CopyToDVD, latest available version at the time of the review.

  • Traxdata Double Layer media @ 2.4X

The writing process was finished after 40:04 minutes. The average speed was 2.24X as reported by CopyToDVD software.

  • Verbatim Double Layer media @ 2.4X

The writing process was finished after 23:24minutes. The average speed was 2.30X.

For comparison reasons, we post DL burning times for other writers, with the same disc content and same recording software:
Drive
Time (mins)
LiteON SOHW-1673S
22:34
NEC ND-3520A
22:35
Freecom FX-50 22.40
ASUS DRW-1604P (4X)
23:10
Pioneer DVR-108

23:10

BenQ DW1625
23:24
Plextor PX-716A 23:33

The BenQ drive is not one of the fastest DL burners out there, since the max DL writing speed now is up to 6X, but certainly it can not be considered a slow DL burner.


12. DVD+R DL - Page 2

- Writing Quality

In order to test the BenQ DW1625 writing quality, we used the LiteOn SOHD-167T and the Plextor PX-716A drives.

click to enlarge!

According to the above graph, the burned media quality is good, confirmed by the smooth line throughout the reading process.

Using Plextools, we produced the above graph, where we can see low PI but some high POE spikes. Not the best quality from DL media, but not a bad one either.

Verbatim media gave similar results to Traxdata media, same smooth CDSpeed graph and lower PI. This is a very good quality burn from the BenQ 1625 drive. Overall, good quality, may not be the fastest burns, but still good quality ones.


13. Booktype Support

The BenQ DW1625 supports booktype management with the use of the BenQ booktype manager:

Here we get a warning message that once burned, the booktype cannot be changed back.

And we successfully changed the Booktype to DVD+R from DVD-ROM.


14. Lightscribe Feature

Two months ago, three LightScribe drives came to our labs. One of them was the BenQ DW 1625 drive, the one we are reviewing here. Back then, we saw what LightScribe technology was, how it works and how each of the three LightScribe enabled drives performed. Here, we will not be reviewing the LightScribe potentials of the 1625 drive since that has already been done. For the Lightscribe comparison review, feel free to look here. Instead, we will take a brief look at the LightScribe technology, what it is and how it works. You can also find useful information about LightScribe here.

-What is LightScribe?

LightScribe technology is an integrated system that with the combination of three key elements, manages to produce "precise" as it is said, CD and DVD labels. These three elements are the Lightscribe enabled drive, the specially dye coated discs, and the specific supported software. Note that the use of specific coated media is required and cannot be done with any printable media.

Only specific media must be used...

-How it works?

In layman's terms, the LS enabled drive uses a laser that emits light energy onto the thin dye coated disc (on the label side of the media) chemically changing the dye coating and enabling visible points on the disc. As the disc spins inside the drive, the light beam marks even more points on the dye, following the pattern given to the drive's mechanism by the specific lightscribe software. This results in a precision image on the label side of the disc.


15. Conclusion

Throughout this review, we saw some of the main capabilities of the DW1625 BenQ burner, apart from the LightScribe feature. Although similar to the 1620, a previous release from BenQ, it can not write -R media at 16X speed, as its max supported speed is 8X for that media type.

The drive supports a wide range of media brands and has not shown a conflict with any of the known brands used for this review. Its reading speed is quite good, both with the CD and DVD formats. As a DVD ripper, it can not match the LiteOn drives, which are known for their ripping capabilities but it is not slow by any means, managing to achieve a fairly good speed. It did not break the barrier of 9000 kB per second but it did get very close.

The drive comes in beige....

Unfortunately, it does not support overburning and does not recognize 90mins CD audio discs. Error correction is very good and will satisfy most end user's needs, since it managed to flawlesly read all test media inserted, whether that be CD or DVD.

...and in black...

The supported DL writing speed is not satisfactory (2.4X max) since almost all new releases support 4X DL writing and some up to 6X DL burning speed. But if you have patience, you will end up with a very good quality burn as the graphs in the previous pages of this review confirm. The DVD quality is satisfactory, with good burns with 16X +R media, and 8X -R media as well. A really good burner, even though it does not support up to 16X for -R media.

As for the DVD±RW media, the performance did not leave us satisfied, producing average quality burns at the max supported speed of 4X in both cases.

The price of the drive is around US$85.

- The Good

- The Bad

- Like To be fixed

Retail Package
Reading
Error Correction
Protected Discs
Writing
Features


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