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This story was printed from CdrInfo.com,
located at http://www.cdrinfo.com.
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Appeared on: Friday, September 02, 2005
NEC ND-3540A


1. Introduction

NEC's latest addition to the market is the NEC-ND 3540A and as one can see from the specs in the table below, not many things have changed since the previous model, the 3530A. DVD±R burning speed is maxed out, so, no changes there. DVD±RW burning speed remains the same. So what does the new NEC model have to offer? Well, NEC has moved a step forward and much like all latest models, has introduced 8X +R DL burning speed.

So, the ND-3540A is a 16/16X DVD±R recorder, supporting up to 8X/6X DVD+/-RW burning speeds respectively and up to 8X for DVD+R DL and 4X for DVD-R DL media.

- Features

The WOPC feature continues to exist in the ND-3540A for optimized writing performance. Furthermore, the drive can overspeed a wide variety of media.

- Specifications

Model
NEC ND-3540A
Transfer Rate read and write
DVD +R: 16x max.
DVD-R: 16x max.
DVD +RW: 8x max.
DVD-RW: 6x max.
DVD +R9: 8x max.
DVD-R DL: 4x
CD-R: 48x max.
CD-RW: 32x max.
Access time
DVD 140ms, CD 120ms
Mechanism
motorized tray load mechanism for horizontal and vertical use
Interface
IDE / ATAPI
Burst transfer rate
PIO mode 4 / Ultra DMA 33
Cache
2 MB
Media supported
DVD-ROM, DVD-R (DL approx march 2005), DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW,DVD+R9,CD-ROM, CD-R and CD-RW with 80mm and 120mm diameter
Modes supported
DVD-ROM,DVD-Video,CD-DA, CD Extra,CD Text,CD-ROM,CD-ROM XA,CD-I,CD-I Ready,CD-Bridge,PhotoCD, VideoCD
Writing methods
DAO, SAO,TAO with zero gap,variable or fixed packet, multisession
Compatibility
MPC Level 3, MultiRead, PC2001
Dimensions
148mm x 42mm x 190mm

The RPC II region control is used, 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:

- Nero InfoTool

- DVD InfoPro

-VSO Inspector

- The Drive

The ND-3540A comes in two faceplate colors, typical white and black. We received the bulk version with a white faceplate. The front of the drive is a typical NEC, with a minor difference from the other NEC drives with the inclusion of the DVD+R DL logo next to the DVD+RW logo on the far right.

On the rear panel you will find the analogue and digital audio outputs (SPDIF), the IDE master/slave/cs selector pins, the IDE connector and the power input.

It is not recommended that you open the drive up, since you will void the guarantee. Instead, you can take a look at the inner workings of the drive with the help of the pictures below. Click on the below images to see a larger, more detailed photo.

click to enlarge!

The drive uses the same NEC D6364 chipset as the previous model, the ND 3530, which is known for its good burning quality capabilities.

- Installation

The drive came in with the 1.01 firmware release which happens to be the latest one so no further flashing was needed. It was identified as "NEC DVD_RW ND-3540A" under WinXP. Below is a screenshot of Nero Burning Rom's specs for the drive.

Throughout this review, we will be comparing the 3540A's test results against those of two other drives, the BenQ 1640 and the LiteOn 1693S.


2. Transfer Rate Reading Tests

- CD Format

For our CD transfer rate tests, we used the Nero CD-Speed utility and both Pressed and CDR media. Lets take a look at how the drive performed in comparison to the other two drives.

 

Minor speed differences when using Pressed CD media, all drives are fast enough, with the LiteOn being the fastest.

Again similar performance although the LiteOn had the slowest end speed. Very steady performance from the NEC drive.

In this case, the NEC drive reported very good average speed, proving overall a fast CD reader.

- DVD Format

Now lets have a look at how the drive performs with DVD media. Again a set of DVD media was used, both SL and DL.

 

With SL media, all drives reported more or less the similar speeds, with only slight differences between them.

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. In this test, the reviewed drive performed well enough being only slightly slower than the BenQ drive.

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. Same performance with the PTP reading test.

With DVD±R, our reviewed drive was again marginally slower than the BenQ. With DVD±RW though, the 3540A left no doubt who was fastest.

Unfortunately, the "rip-lock" function that NEC employs in all their burners is still present, and so we had a sluggish 7172kb/s average ripping speed.

-Appendix

Nero CD-DVD Speed Graphs

CD Pressed / CD-R / US-RW
DVD Pressed SL / DVD Pressed DL / DVD-R / DVD-RW / DVD+R / DVD+RW


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: 1469093
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 118376 Avg: -78.7 dB(A) Max: -33.8 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 4888 Avg: 1.0 Samples Max: 28 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 2 Avg: 6.0 Samples Max: 6 Samples
Total Test Result
70.4 points (out of 100.0 maximum)
C2 Accuracy
99.7 %

The error totals can be described as a bit high for this test although the maximum error loudness is acceptable. Overall, average performance with this test media.

- ABEX TCD-726

Errors total
Num: 3545
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 4254 Avg: -83.9 dB(A) Max: -15.2 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 53 Avg: 22.1 Samples Max: 467 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 0 Avg: 0.0 Samples Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result
80.1 points (out of 100.0 maximum)
C2 Accuracy
99.8 %

The 726 test media, is usually no problem for the majority of the tested drives. However in this case, we got readings that indicate poor CD error correction capabilities.

- 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-3540A
5/5
5/5
5/5
5/5
0/5

With this test disc, the drive reported good results, managing to read flawlessly 4 tracks out of 5.

- Summary

The NEC ND-3540A is a bit of a mixed bag with CD error correction. The results with the ABEX TCD-721 and 726 disks were not the best we've seen but the CD Check disc was certainly better than average.


4. DVD Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we examined the DVD reading capabilities of the NEC ND-3540A 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.

What we have here is error free reading with a small drop in speed over the last part of the defect region.

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.

Excellent reading. The drive managed to read over both defective areas without problems.

- 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.

This test disc proved to be a little bit harder to read and there were speed fluctuations and drops at the end of both defective regions. Still, the NEC drive managed to read over the defective areas on both layers without producing any errors.

ABEX TDR-845

The disc is a single sided, dual layer DVD-ROM disc of 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.

Very good performance with smooth lines (steady reading speed). Again, no errors reported.

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!

Very good error correction capabilities, with a drop in speed after the layer change.

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!

Excellent reading by the NEC drive. The artificial dots and fingerprints were no match for the drive's error correction mechanism.

- Summary

The NEC ND-3540A surely proved to have a great error correction mechanism with DVD media, much like the previous models. If DVD error correction is on any buyer's need-to-have list, then he/she will not be disappointed by this drive.


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.

SecuROM and PSX ripping is no problem for the NEC drive. On the other hand, the Safedisc protection proved to be quite a handful for the ripping capabilities of the 3540A.

Game Title
Protection Scheme
Duration
Reading speed
PSX "NBA Jam Extreme"
Lybcrypt
00:55 min
1643 sectors/sec
Serious Sam The Second Encounter v1.07
SafeDisc v.2.60.052
32:28 min
172 sectors/sec
VRally II
SecuROM v.2
2:36 min
2204 sectors/sec

- Writing Tests

The NEC ND-3540A supports the 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.

- Fifa 2004 - Safe Disc v3.1x

- The Sims Superstar - Safe Disc v2.9x

- The Sims Unleashed - Safe Disc v2.8x

- Serious Sam Second Encounter - Safe Disc v2.51.021

- Max Payne - Safe Disc v2.51.020

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
NEC ND-3540A
No
Yes
No
Yes
Yes

Like most NEC based drives, the ND-3540A cannot produce working backups with the newest v2.8x, v2.9x and v3.1x builds. Partially working backups were produced for SafeDisc v2.51.051 & v2.51.020.


6. DAE Tests

- Pressed and CDR AudioCD results

The ND-3540A supports up to 40X CAV DAE speed. The following results were reported when using Nero CD-Speed software.

 

The BenQ and LiteOn drives support up to 48X DAE speed, while the NEC only up to 40X. Hence the differences in average speed.

The NEC ND-3540A drive can report C2 errors, but caching is not supported, as with most NEC based drives.

- Advanced DAE Quality

No surprises here, the NEC drive performed more or less the same as the previous model. A total quality score of 94.4 and an average speed of 29.12X is considered an improvement on previous drives (prior to the NEC D6364 chipset).

The ND-3540A cannot read Leadin data or Leadout data, but it can read CD Text and Subchannel data. The reported average speed was 29.21X. Somewhat same performance with the previous model (3530A).

- Ripping 90mins AudioCDs

click to enlarge!

Unfortunately, the reading was not completed and produced the above error message.

- Ripping 99mins AudioCDs

With 99min AudioCDs, the burner could not recognize the inserted media.

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


7. Protected AudioCDs

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

The tested protected Audio discs were:
Audio Discs Protection
Celine Dion - New Day Has Come Sony's Key2Audio
Natalie Imbruglia - White Lilies Island Cactus Data Shield 200
Aiko Katsukino - The Love Letter Cactus Data Shield 200.0.4 - 3.0 build 16a

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:

- Recognition of the inserted disc (Yes/No).

- Ripping all wavs (with EAC's Burst Mode) to the hard disk with copy&compare function.

- Listening to the produced wavs for any click/skips.

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-3540A
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 successful for all tracks

As seen from the above table, the NEC drive managed to rip flawlessly the inserted protected audio discs.

- Cactus Data Shield 200.0.4 - 3.0 build 16a (Aiko Katsukino - The Love Letter)

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-716A (firmware v1.08).

CDS 200.0.4 - 3.0 build 16a
NEC ND-3540A
Reading performed without any errors.

- C1C2 Error rate from PleXWriter PX-716A (8X CLV reading speed)

- BETA/Jitter Error rate from PleXWriter PX-716A

C1/C2 levels indicate an error free backup.

We then tried to extract all wav files with the Plextor PX-716A 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

- CD-R Format

The drive supports 8X, 16X, 24X, 32X, 40X and 48X (CAV) writing speeds.

According to Nero CDSpeed, the drive clocked in an average speed of 36.36X.

- 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.

As the above graph indicates, not all four inserted media were burned at the max 48X speed. TY media was burned at 32X in 3:37mins, while BenQ CDR media was burned at 48X in exactly 3:00mins.

- Other features

Overburning writing
Up to 90min
CD text reading/writing
Yes

- CD-RW Format

The ND-3540A supports 4X, 10X, 16X (CLV), 24X (Z-CLV) and 32X (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 32x US-RW media from Mitsubishi Chemicals.

- CD-RW Mount Rainier

The NEC ND-3540A does not support the Mount Rainier feature.


9. Writing Quality Tests - C1 / C2 Error Measurements
Untitled Document

We measured the C1 / C2 error rate on the recorded discs we burned at the various supported writing speeds. The software we used is the latest PleXTools Professional and in particular the built-in Q-Check utility. The reader was the Plextor PX-716A.

BenQ 80min 52X @ 48X

Intenso 80min 52X @ 48X

TY 80min 52X @ 48X

Traxdata 80min 52X @ 48X

- Summary

One out of four burned media reported C2 errors (Intenso) while all the other media are considered error free burns. Overall, excellent performance with CDR media by the NEC drive. Now let us see how the Clover Systems CDX utility reports on these burned media.


10. Writing Quality Tests - Clover System Tests
Untitled Document

This is the first time we include the following tests in a burner review. The Clover Systems CDX Compact Disc Analyzer is a high-speed tool to quantitatively measure the quality of a CD. It will analyze CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, CD-I, CD-R, Photo-CD, Enhanced CD and CD-RW discs at 4X, 8X, 24X, 32X or 40X speed. It effectively measures disc quality by examining the quantity and severity of CIRC errors generated during playback. It also provides the capability to measure signal parameters related to pit geometry, such as asymmetry and reflectivity. Together, all these bits of information provide a thorough analysis of disc quality. The Clover Systems Analyzers can also perform various format-checking tests on data discs, and do bit-for-bit data comparison on all types of CDs. All tests are carried out at the maximum speed of 40X.

CIRC error correction uses two principles to detect and correct errors. The first is redundancy (extra information is added, which gives an extra chance to read the disc), and the second is interleaving (data is distributed over a relatively large physical area). The CIRC error correction used in CD players uses two stages of error correction, the well known C1 and C2, with de-interleaving of the data between the stages.

The error type E11 means one bad symbol was corrected in the C1 stage. E21means two bad symbols were corrected in the C1 stage. E31 means that there were three or more bad symbols at the C1 stage. This block is uncorrectable at the C1 stage, and is passed to the C2 stage. Respectively, E12 means one bad symbol was corrected in the C2 stage and E22 means two bad symbols were corrected in the C2 stage. E32 means that there were three or more bad symbols in one block at the C2 stage, and therefore this error is not correctable.

BLER (Block Error Rate) is defined as the number of data blocks per second that contain detectable errors, at the input of the C1 decoder. Since this is the most general measurement of the quality of a disc, you will find BLER graphs for all media tested below. If you click on the images you can see a more detailed table, indicating error levels. The Red Book specification (IEC 908) calls for a maximum BLER of 220 per second averaged over ten seconds. Discs with higher BLER are likely to produce uncorrectable errors. Al low BLER shows that the system as a whole is performing well, and the pit geometry is good. However, BLER only tells us how many errors were generated per second, and it does not tell us anything about the severity of those errors.

BenQ 80min 52X @ 48X

Intenso 80min 52X @ 48X

Traxdata 80min 52X @ 48X

TY 80min 52X @ 32X

- Summary

A more professional and reliable look at the burned media is accomplished through CDX from Clover Systems. We managed to confirm the Plextools scans as far as BenQ, Traxdata and Intenso media are concerned. Surprisingly, the TY media proved to be the a "bad" burn, even though it reported very low levels in the Plextools scans and no C2 whatsoever.


11. DVD Recording Tests

- Writing Performance

Now we will check the burning performance with DVD media. We expect no surprises here due to the fact that the drive uses the same burning speed for DVD±R/RW. Below, you can see the available writing speed graph, as reported by Nero Burning Rom.

By using Nero CD-DVD Speed with DVD-R and DVD+R media, we are able to see the 16X CAV recording technology in action for -R and +R media. You can clearly see that WOPC is activated.

- DVD+R media @ 16X CAV

click to enlarge!

- DVD-R media @ 16X CAV

- Burning Tests

DVD-R media

Overspeeding has always been a "plus" for the NEC drives. As we can see, the 3540A is no exception managing to overspeed TY, Verbatim and Maxell media, at 12X for the first two and 16X for the last. Best burn came with Maxell media 8X DVD-R burned at 16X writing speed in 6:12mins.

With DVD-RW we had no surprises, as the 3540A managed to burn a full RW media at 10:43, much like the other 6X -RW enabled recorders.

In this case, while using DVD+R media, we got the same overspeed performance from the drive with TDK 8X and TY 8X, both burned at 16X speed. The only drawback is the drop in burning speed for some media, such as CMC MAG and RiDisk which were burned at 12X instead of their stated speed of 16X. Bust burn (fastest one) came with TDK 8X media burned at 16X in only 6:07mins.

With DVD+RW media, we saw great results. The drive managed to produce a full burn in only 7:25mins, which is even better than DVD+R 8X media.

- Comparison with other drives

In both cases, for both DVD+R and -R media, the NEC drive was slowest with a slight difference from the LiteOn and BenQ drives.

With DVD+RW, all three drives performed similarly, burning at the speed of 8X. With DVD-RW media, the NEC was slower by 40 or so seconds.

- DVD Overburning Tests

Unfortunately, the drive does not support overburning.

- DVD+MRW Tests

The NEC ND-3540A does not support the Mount Rainier feature.


12. CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 1

In order to test the writing quality and readability of the burned media we are using 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 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.

16X DVD-R Writing Speed

- CMC MAG 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- Maxell 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- Verbatim(MKM) 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- Optodisc 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- TDK 16 X DVD-R @ 16X

- Maxell 8X DVD-R @ 16X

- Summary

Most of the inserted discs reported good results with low PI values. Unfortunately, TDK 16X media reported an error with both CD-Speed and Plextools. Overall good performance with DVD-R at 16X burning speed.


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:

- 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 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

- Datawrite 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- MKM 8X DVD-R @ 12X

- Optodiscs 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- Ridisc (Blue) 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- Ridisc (Red) 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- Traxdata 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- TY 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- Summary

Best results came with Ridisc (Blue MCC 02R) at 8X burning speed. Overall we have average to good burning quality with DVD-R media at 8X. The oversped MKM at 12X reported good results, with smooth CD-Speed graph and low PI plextools scan values.


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:

- 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 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.

16X DVD+R Writing Speed

- Maxell 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- MKM 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Optodisc 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Philips 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Ricoh 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Ridisc 16X DVD+R @ 12X

- CMC 16X DVD+R @ 12X

- TDK 8X DVD+R @ 16X

- TY 8X DVD+R @ 16X

- Summary

Although the scans do not indicate an excellent outcome, the performance remains within desired levels, with PI values below the 280 limit.


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:

- 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 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

- CMC 8X DVD+R @ 8X

- Maxell 8X DVD+R @ 8X

- Optodisc 8X DVD+R @ 8X

- Traxdata 8X DVD+R @ 8X

- Summary

We can safely say that in this case, performance has improved and the NEC 3540A reported good results. Almost all media reported the same low values that we have become used to from NEC drives, with the "worst" burn being with Traxdata, which can be described as good to very good.


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:

- 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 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

- MKM 8X DVD+RW @ 8X

- Ricoh 8X DVD+RW @ 8X

- MKM 6X DVD-RW @ 6X

- Traxdata 6X DVD-RW @ 6X

- Summary

The MKM DVD+RW 8X and MKM DVD-RW 6X reported the best results and can be described as good burns, with PI values within limits. The remaining media were above the limit and both had average to bad CD-Speed scans.


17. 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:

- Fine Mode: checks a series of eight consecutive ECC blocks,

- Rough Mode: checks eight consecutive ECC blocks every 100h ECC blocks

- Quick Mode: checks three specified areas

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.

- Ricoh 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Verbatim 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Maxell 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- Verbatim 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- Summary

Much like CDX, the Almedio "ALChecker" is a more professional solution to the standard scan utilities. We used the ALChecher to scan four 16X burned media, two -R and two +R both at 16X. The above scans confirm the Plextools scans with all but the last one, with Verbatim DVD-R 16X media, which as the pop up windows dialog box indicates, was a bad burn.


18. DVD+R DL - Page 1

- Writing Tests

We burned some DVD+R DL and 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 then used the latest CopyToDVD, 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-3540A burner.

The screenshot below was taken when Verbatim DVD+R DL 2.4X certified media was inserted. The NEC drive was able to burn this media overspeeding up to 8X burning speed. As we will see from the following screenshots, this can not be done with 8X certified DL media.

After pressing "OK", the burning procedure started without any unexpected delays. It should be noted that we did not change the default booktype setting prior to writing the disc to DVD-ROM booktype, in order to investigate the default booktype setting for this media type.

- Verbatim DVD+R DL 2.4X @ 8X

- MKM DVD+R DL 8X @ 4X

- MKM DVD-R DL 4X @ 6X

- Traxdata DVD+R DL 2.4X @ 2.4X

The writing process was finished after 15:17 minutes when writing at 8x, and 19:31 minutes when writing at 6x. The average speed was 5.97x and 5.12x respectively, as reported by the CopyToDVD software.

For comparison reasons, we post DL burning results with other writers, with the same disc content and same recording software. As you can see, this is not the fastest recorder available, but it still is fast enough to outperform most burners on the market.

Drive Time (mins)
NEC 2510A 37:17
BenQ DW1600A DL 40:16
BenQ DW830A 39:14
NEC ND-3540A

15:17

LG GSA-4120B 38:12
ASUS DRW-1604P (4X) 23:10
ASUS DRW-1604P (2.4X) 38:08
Pioneer DVR-108A (4X) 23:10
Pioneer DVR-108A (2.4X)

38:23

NEC ND-3500A 22:52
TDK 1616N 22:51
NEC ND-3520A

22:35

NEC ND-3530A 17:48
Pioneer DVR-109 16:29
BenQ DW1640 14:14

19. DVD+R DL - Page 2

- Writing Quality

In order to test the NEC ND-3540A DVD+R DL and DVD-R DL writing quality, we used the LiteOn SOHD-167T and the Plextor PX-716A drives.

- Verbatim DVD+R DL 2.4X @ 8X

- MKM DVD+R DL 8X @ 4X

- MKM DVD-R DL 4X @ 6X

- Traxdata DVD+R DL 2.4X @ 2.4X

Best case was the MKM +R DL 8X burned at 4X, reporting extremely low PI values and some PO, all below the limit. All burnings can be considered as indicating good writing quality with DL media from the 3540A drive.


20. BookType Setting

BookType setting feature is a must have with all the latest drives released on the market. Just as with all NEC drives, the 3540A also supports this function but only with +R DL media. The user can change the booktype of media either through Nero Burning ROM (automatically achieved through nero automatic functions) or by the use of some of the well known utilities available, to maximize compatibility with stand-alone DVD players.

Below you can see some screenshots from Nero CD/DVD Speed software and DVDInfoPro software. Both can be used to change the default booktype setting with the ND-3540A.


21. Conclusion

NEC, the well known optical storage manufacturer among other things, has released it's latest model, the ND-3540A DL burner, similar to the 3530A with the only difference that it supports up to 8X burning speed for +R DL media, which is the fastest currently available. Apart from that, it is still the same good performing drive, something we have come to expect from NEC, offering 16/16X for DVD±R media and 8X/6X for DVD±RW media. DVD-R DL support is still there at the current max supported speed which remains the same, that of the 4X.

The reading capabilities of the 3540A are quite extensive, being a relatively fast reader with any inserted CD media (apart from the 90/99 mins audio discs, which is a drawback) as well as DVD media, putting the drive in good standing against other latest releases like the BenQ 1640. Defective media did not present a challenge for the drive's error correction mechanism, even though the CD error correction was no different from the previous models. The 3540A will cover the CD reading needs of an average user. DVD error correction is a strong feature of the drive, managing to read flawlessly all our test media.

In the protected media arena, both audio and data discs, the 3540A did quite well. It managed to rip all three protected test audio discs, and produce a 100% error free backup of the advanced protected audio media. While with the data protected media, the drive gave its best. A "certified" PSX and Securom ripper, it will only have troubles backing up Safedisc protected games, managing to backup only up to SafeDisc 2.60.

CD-R burning was achieved at 48X writing speeds and during the tests, we also had 32X burning speed media as well. Quality with these media was good, although the CDX utility reported 2/4 burns as "pass" quality with the other two getting a "fail". Burned DVD media were of really good writing quality following on the footsteps of previous NEC models in this area. Some bad burns were reported such as the Verbatim DVD-R 16X media, while some media were burned at a lower than designated speed. DVD±RW burning quality was good, with the 8X +RW media reporting some good results, but could certainly be improved through a firmware release.

DL writing quality was very also good with all inserted DL media for both +R and -R formats. At 8X, 6X, 4X and 2.4X, the drive performed very well, with the media reporting low PI and perfect smooth scans. The drive supports the Booktype feature, and one can easily change the booktype of a specific media prior to burning. Note that this feature is supported only for +R DL media at the moment by the NEC drive.

The drive costs only about US$75.00 and its price makes it a very attractive buy, considering the writing quality that you get at this price!

- The Good

- DVD-R DL support at 4x, and DVD+R DL support at 8x

- Very good DVD error correction capabilities

- Can burn DVD+RW media at 8X, and DVD-RW media at 6X

- Supports audio protected discs

- SL/DL writing quality

- The Bad

- Average CD error correction

- Cannot recognize 99min Audio CD's

- Cannot create working backups with SafeDisc protected games over v2.60

- Cannot overburn DVD recordable media

- Booktype supported only for +R DL media

- Like To be fixed

- Booktype support for SL media

- RW writing quality

Retail Package
Reading
Error Correction
Protected Discs
Writing
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