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Appeared on: Friday, February 08, 2008
Samsung SH-S203D

1. Introduction

Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology Corp. (TSST) recently released the SH-S203D Super-multi DVD burner, the first drive designed to offer 16x burning for DVD+R DL and 12x for DVD-R DL media. This differentiates SH-S203D from the rest of the DVD burners of the market, which mainly offer the same specifications possibly packed with some extra features. And while the recording speeds top at 20x for the DVD recordable formats, the SH-S203D deserves some more attention as a potential top perfomer with dual-layer DVDs. The supported 12x DVD-RAM speed also comes in to complete the package.

The new SATA drive additionaly brings some enhancements mainly focused on the recording quality, including the following:

- Specifications

- Drive Package Information

Along with the Samsung SH-S203D burner, the retail package includes the following:

1. Nero Express 7 Essentials - DVD/CD writing softeware

2. Nero ShowTime 3 Essentials - DVD media player

3. Nero Vision 4 Essentials - Editing &authoring wizard

4. Nero Recode 2 Essentials - Copy DVDs with one click

5. Nero Back/7up 2 - Easy back-up

6. InCD 5 Essentials - UDF packet writing software

7. Silver & black extra bezels

8. Quick installation guide

9. SATA connection cable

The S-ATA interface for the SH-S203D is typically placed at the rear side of the drive:

The drive is based on the Mediatek MT1859L chipset.

- Nero Info Tool

The drive came with firmware VerSB00 installed.

Let's move to our usual CD/DVD reading and recording tests, as well as the writing quality tests of the TSST drive, powered by DaTARIUS.

2. CD,DVD reading tests

For our CD transfer rate tests, we used the Nero CD-Speed utility and a set of data and audio CD-R/RW/ROM. The drive can read CD media at a maximum speed of 48X.

For each CDSpeed graph, you can click on the image to see the complete screenshot of the software, including the measuring results.




The following CD Speed graph shows the reading performance with US-RW media. For all the CDSpeed graphs, you can click on the image to see the full CDspeed snapshot.

- AudioCD

In the CD Speed Advanced DAE quality test, the drive's average speed was 27,85X with a quality score of 100.

- 90/99 mins Audio disc

Both the 90min and the 99 min audio CDs gave a read error, as you can see in the screenshots above.

- DVD Format

Now let's have a look at how the drive performs with DVD media. This time, a set of SL and DL DVD media was used. The drive is capable of reading at 12X maximum speed for single layer DVD ROM and at 12X for dual layer DVD ROM media.

DVD-ROM SL media -


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 its outer range.

The sharp drop downs of the speed just before the end of the second layer area could be considered as an issue here as the disc had some hard times read it.


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 of 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 and progresses towards the inner part of the disc.








- DVD Ripping speed.

Average - 11,578 kB/s (8.4x)
Maximum - 17,212 kB/s (12.4x)

3. CD error correction tests
CD Error Correction 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.


Errors total
Num : 397810687
Errors (Loudness)
Num 1882477
Avg : -23,7 dB(A)
Max : -3,2dB(A)
Error Muting
Num : 758564
Avg : 1,1 Samples
Max 470 Samples
Num 15
Avg 2760,1 Samples
Max 2939 Samples
Total Test Result
47,5 points (of 100.0 maximum)

The drive's error correction mechanisms are bad. The noise started at an early position of the disc (4 min). This denotes that the drive does not have good error hiding mechanisms. Furthermore, the errors go up to -12 db, thus making the noise audible.

- ABEX TCD-726

Errors total
Num 397810675
Errors (Loudness)
Num :1882477
Avg : -23,7 dB(A)
Max : -3,2dB(A)
Error Muting
Num :758523
Avg : 1,1 Samples
Max :470 Samples
Num :15
Avg :2760,1 Samples
Max :2939 Samples
Total Test Result
47,5 points (of 100.0 maximum)

Again, the drive fails to correct the errors from the artificial scratch cd.

- CD-Check Audio Test Disc

The CD-Check Test Disc is another 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 (e.g. 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

The drive managed to correctly play the first three tracks. Problems occurred with the fourth and fifth tracks. An average performance for Samsung SH-S203D.

4. DVD error correction tests
DVD Error Correction

In the following tests, we examine the DVD reading capabilities of the drive (error correction) 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


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.

Nice reading with no read errors from the Samsung drive.


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.

Again, no read errors from the drive.

- Dual Layer media


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 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.

Our drive here had some hard time reading both middle of the first and the second layer that is why we see the sharply drop down of the speed, but managed to finish the test correctrly.


The TDV-541 is a single sided, dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc, with a capacity of 8.5GB.The disc is based upon 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 drive was not able to read the disc.


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.

A flawless reading here, easily overcoming any defects.

5. CD-R Writing tests - Ritek 48x
Verbatim CD-R

-Disc Info

Ritek 48x CD-R



703 MB

Max nominal speed

- Writing strategy

Average Writing Speed: 36,64x
Writing time: 02:54:min

- Reading speed

- Writing Quality - Clover Systems

The E12 error rate was over limit, but the errors were corrected at the later stages of the error correction.

- About Clover Systems

The Clover Systems CDX Compact Disc Analyzer is a 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 speed of 4X.

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.

6. CD-R Writing tests - Verbatim 48x
Verbatim CD-RW

-Disc Info


Mitsubishi Kagaku


703 MB

Max nominal speed

- Writing strategy

Average Writing Speed: 36.77x
Writing time: 02:52:min

- Reading speed

- Writing Quality - Clover Systems

Excellent writing quality, with all the error rates within limits.

7. CD-R Writing tests - CMC Magnetics 48x
Verbatim CD-R

-Disc Info

CMC Magnetics 48x CD-R

CMC Magnetics


703 MB

Max nominal speed

- Writing strategy

Average Writing Speed: 36,95x
Writing time: 02:51:min

- Reading speed

- Writing Quality - Clover Systems

The E12,E22 error rates were over limit. However, no uncorrectable errors appeared.

8. CD-RW Writing tests - Verbatim 32x
Verbatim CD-RW

-Disc Info


Mitsubishi Kagaku


656 MB

Max nominal speed

- Writing strategy

Average Writing Speed: 23,06x
Writing time: 03:50:min

- Reading speed

- Writing Quality - Clover Systems

Excellent writing quality with all error rates within limits.

9. The DaTARIUS DVD Analyzer R 2x
DaTARIUS DVD Analyzer R 2x

The DaTARIUS DVD Analyzer R 2x is one of the cornerstones in DVD quality control equipment, and is truly unique in the industry. It allows checking of replicated DVDs with single and dual layer structure (DVD-5, DVD-9, DVD-10, DVD-14, DVD-18) and written DVD recordable, at 1X and 2X speed. It is based on the Pulstec Reference Pickup and Drive, developed in close co-operation with Pulstec and according to the standards of the DVD Forum.

In short, the device's features include:

Analysis of pre-recorded DVDs, single and dual layer, and written DVD Recordable
Analysis of pre-recorded DVDs, single and dual layer, and written DVD recordable
Double and single speed analysis
Double-check function at reference speed
Double-check function at reference speed
Multi-dimensional calibration
HF, jitter, mechanical and tracking parameters checked
Radial tilt control, focus offset compensation and slicing level adjustment for jitter measurement
Local defect detection/missing pits
Error flag analysis (PI-errors, PI-fail, PO-fail)
According to DVD Forum specification
Double-Check function
Control datasimulation
DVD-9 OTP sector number check

An explanation of the various parameters the DaTARIUS DVD Analyzer R 2x offers is available here. At the same page, you can read more details about the error signals and a brief analysis the possible meaning of its parameter in the overall quality of each burn.

In the following pages, we present the writing quality measurements of various DVD recordable and rewritable media, burned with the TSST SH-S203D DVD burner.

10. DVD+R Writing tests - CMC MAG E01

We start our DVD writing quality measurements with DVD-R media. A variety of different MIDs were selected and burned at the maximum allowed speed. In each of the following pages, you will find detailed information about each disc, the burning and reading procedure as well as the related signal measurements that construct the overall quality picture for each disc.

You can always navigate across to the different MIDs in this review, using the page navigation drop down menu.

-Media Info

- Writing - 12x (4.07x average) in 14:38 min

- Reading - 16X (11.69X average)

DaTARIUS Scans -

Lots of PISum8 errors and many POF (uncorrectable) errors. The Datarius Analyzer also failed to read some sectors of the disc at radius 39mm and 47mm.

Overall bad writing quality.

11. DVD+R Writing tests - DAXON AZ3
Verbatim MCC 03RG20 DVD-R

-Media Info

- Writing - 16x (11.74x average) in 05:59min

- Reading - 16X (12.12X average)

DaTARIUS Scans -

One POF (uncorrectable) error and some PISum8 near the limits. Not a perfect burn.

12. DVD+R Writing tests - PRODISC R05

-Media Info

Writing - 16x (11.93x average) in 05:43min

- Reading - 16X (12.16X average)

DaTARIUS Scans -

No uncorrectable errors appeared here.Nice burning quality.

13. DVD+R Writing tests - RICOHJPN R03

-Media Info

- Writing - 18x (13.43x average) in 05:09min

- Reading - 16X (12,11X average)

DaTARIUS Scans -

/Articles/Sources/S/SAMSUNG SH-S203D/IMAGES/CDDVD_WRITINGS/DVD+R/RICOHJPNR03/dig.png" width="479" height="771">

The PISum8 and POF error rates are very high . Also, the Jitter is always over the limit. Bad writing quality.

14. DVD+R Writing tests - MCC 004
ProdiscS05 DVD-R

-Media Info

- Writing - 18x (13.45x average) in 05:08min

- Reading - 16X (12.17X average)

DaTARIUS Scans -

The Datarius Analyzer was not able to read the disc between the radius of 44mm and 48mm. Apart from that, the test reported many PISum8 and POF errors.

15. DVD+R Writing tests - Yuden T03
ProdiscF01 DVD-R

-Media Info

- Writing - 20x (13.44x average) in 05:15min

- Reading - 15,30X (13.2X average)

DaTARIUS Scans -

Some POF errrors reported making the burn a bad one.

16. DVD+R DL Writing tests - MKM 003

-Media Info

- Writing - 10x (8.88x average) in 13:19min

Currently, there are no samples of DVD+R DL media, compatible with 16X writing. Ritek and Mitsubishi are expected to release some of them, and as soon as we get them we will rerun the tests. The Samsung drive is capable of writing those 16X compatible discs at 16X using Z-CLV.

- Reading - 12X (9.30X average)

DaTARIUS Scans -

Layer 0

Layer 1

Both layers' writing quality were nice with all error rates within limits.

17. DVD-R Writing tests - PRODISC F02
InfoDisc R20 DVD-R

-Media Info

- Writing - 16x (11,93x average) in 05:45min

- Reading - 16X (12.15X average)

DaTARIUS Scans -


18. DVD-R Writing tests - TTH02

-Media Info

- Writing - 16x (11.93x average) in 05:47min

- Reading - 16X (11.85X average)

DaTARIUS Scans -

A good burn showing no uncorrectable read errors.

19. DVD-R Writing tests - RITEK F1
YUDEN000 T03 000 (00h) DVD+R

-Media Info

- Writing - 16x (11,97x average) in 05:47min

- Reading - 16X (11.82X average)

DaTARIUS Scans -

Some PISum8 errors over limit, making this an average burn.

20. DVD-R Writing tests - CMCMAG AM3
Verbatim MCC 004 000 (00h) DVD+R

-Media Info

- Writing - 18x (13,44x average) in 05:12min

- Reading - 16X (11.76X average)

DaTARIUS Scans -

A bad burn showing many uncorectable errors.

21. DVD-R Writing tests - MCC 03RG20
RITEK R04 001 (01h) DVD+R

-Media Info

- Writing - 18x (13,36x average) in 05:12min

- Reading - 16X (12.10X average)

DaTARIUS Scans -

Another unacceptable writing reporting a huge amount of uncorrectable and correctable errors.

22. DVD-R Writing tests - TYG03
RICONJPN R03 004 (04h) DVD+R

-Media Info

- Writing - 20x (11.75x average) in 6:00min

- Reading - 16X (12.11X average)

DaTARIUS Scans -

Good burning quality with no uncorrectable errors.

23. DVD-R DL Writing tests - MKM 03RD30

-Media Info

- Writing - 10x (8.89x average) in 13:38min

The drive burnt the MKM 03RD30 DVD-R DL (8x) at 10x Z-CLV. In the following page you can also see a succesfull burn of a brand new MKM 04RD30 DVD-R DL at 12x.

- Reading - 12X (9.29X average)

DaTARIUS Scans -

Layer 0

Layer 1

The first layer's writing quality was nice with all error rates within limits. However, the second layer produced many many PISum8 and POF errors.

24. DVD-R DL Writing tests - MKM 04RD30

-Media Info

- Writing - 12x (8.90x average) in 13:46min

The drive burnt the MKM 04RD30 DVD-R DL disc at 12x using a CAV writing strategy, resulting to an overall burning time comparable to that we had when we burned the MKM 03RD30 disc at 12x, using Z-CLV. Samsung's upcoming vSB 01 firmware upgrade is also expected allow the drive to use the Z-CLV strategy with the new 12x DVD-R DL discs.

- Reading - 12X (9.30X average)

DaTARIUS Scans -

Layer 0

Layer 1

Generally the quality reported seems to be good, although the measurements were not taken in the complete area of the disc. For the areas measured, the digital errors were low enough to be corrected. The disc was also fully readable.

25. DVD-RW Writing tests - MKM01RW6X01
OPTODISC R16 000 (00h) DVD+R

-Media Info

- Writing - 6x (6.03x average) in 10:09min

- Reading - 12X (9.03X average)

- Writing Quality - Almedio AEC-1000

No uncorrectable errors were found and the correctable ones were under limit. Nice burning quality.

- About 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.

26. DVD+RW Writing tests - MKM A03
OPTODISC 0R8 000 (00h) DVD+R

-Media Info

- Writing - 8x (7.71x average) in 7:34min

- Reading - 12X (09.05X average)

- Writing Quality - Almedio AEC-1000

One uncorrectable error was found, as well as many PI errors advancing the error rate over the limit.Average writing quality.

27. DVD writing quality summary, Bitsetting
Media List

In the following table, we have gathered the findings of the DVD quality measurement tests. Note that each disc was measured under the same conditions with the DaTARIUS equipment. On the left side of the table, you can find the discs that did not produce uncorrectable digital errors, while on the right side are the rest of the discs. For detailed measurement data, visit the corresponding pages.

- Media List

Media type
Digital errors within limits
Digital errors exceed limits
TYG03 burned at 20x Verbatim MCC 03RG20 burned at 18x
TTH02 burned at 16X CMC MAG. AM3 burned at 18x
  RITEKF1 burned at 16X
  ProdiscF02 burned at 16x
PRODISC R05 001 (01h) burned at 16x  YUDEN000 T03 000 (00h) burned at 20x
  Verbatim MCC 004 000 (00h) burned at 18x
  RICONJPN R03 004 (04h) burned at 18x
  Daxon AZ3 000 (00h) burned at 16x
  CMC MAG E01 000 (00h) burned at 12x
DVD+R DL   Verbatim MKM 003 000 (00h) burned at 10x
DVD-R DL   Verbatim MKM 03RD30 burned at 10x
DVD+RW   Verbatim MKM A03 000 (00h) burned at 8x
DVD-RW Verbatim MKM 01RW6X01 burned at 6x  

- Booktype Settings

The booktype feature is supported for DVD+R, DVD+R DL and DVD+RW.

- DVD Overburning

The drive was able to overburn some media, gaining some extra MBytes of data.

28. Final words

The Samsung SH-S203D is the first DVD writer capable of burning DVD±R DL media at 16X and 12X respectively. This is a major advance for the optical disc writers market, as other companies are now called to follow on this new speed level. The brand new 12x DVD-R DL media we used on this test performed quite well and the recorded disc was fully readable. Unfortunately, we do not have samples of 16X DVD+R DL media yet, so we used the 8x DVD+R DL media burned at 10X. When we get our hands on some, though, we will rerun the tests and update the article.

However, no one wants a fast DVD ReWriter, unless it is a qualitative reader and writer.

So, as we do for all the drives, we performed a series of reading and writing tests on the drive. Let's move on to the results.

Starting with CD/DVD reading and error correction tests, the reading process of pressed CD and DVD media was completed successfully, reading all of them but the 90 and 99 mins audio discs. As far as CD error correction is concerned, the drive produced high levels of noise which could be audible. Furthermore, the drive's error hiding mechanisms are not so good, thus spreading the noise to almost all the surface of the disc. However, this does not mean that the produced sound will be defective in all its extent. On the other hand, DVD error correction tests showed us that the drive is a good DVD media reader, correcting and successfully reading almost all of the defective discs.

Procceding to the writing quality tests, the Samsung drive turned out to be an average writer. It was able to read all the burned DVD discs without any speed fluctuations, but the Datarius Analyzer reported uncorrectable errors on the majority of them. Furthermore, the analyzer was unable to read some parts of a few discs. As for the CD media, all the burned discs produced no uncorrectable errors, and the majority of them were flawless burns.

To sum up, the SH-S203D left us with an average impression. Its pros are its high DVD±R DL writing speed as well as its good DVD error correction mechanisms. Should the writing quality be improved, the drive will definitely be one of the best currently available. This Samsung drive can be found at the stores for about $40-$60.

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