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Appeared on: Sunday, January 20, 2002

1. Introduction

Aopen RW5120A DVD+RW - Page 1

- Introduction

AOpen at June of 2001 announced : "...a leading edge product DVD+RW, which not only writes CD-R/RW medium, but also writes the high-density DVD+RW media (4.7Gbyte). It offers 2.5x DVD+RW writing, 12x CD-R writing, 10x CD-RW rewriting, 8x DVD and 32x CD reading. Five functions in one drive: DVD+RW, DVD-ROM, CD-RW, CD-R and CD-ROM. It is simply a convergence device, so-called Super Combo Drive. DVD+RW technology provides a unique advantage: Recorded discs can be played back on existing DVD Video players and DVD-ROM drives that are currently in use and will reach some 160 million by the end of 2001. With DVD+RW it is possible to perform Lossless Linking, i.e. to suspend and continue the writing process without linking loss..."

We compare side to side Ricoh/Philips and AOpen DVD+RW drives. How similar those three drives are? Are there any major performance differences? What about the price?

- The drive

Aopen RW5120A supports 12x (CD) and 2.4x DVD+RW writing, 10x re-writing, 32x (CD) and 8x (DVD-ROM/+RW) reading. The drive also supports "JustLink" in order to avoid buffer underruns for CD format and 'LooseLess Link' technology for the DVD+RW format. Its writing speeds are: 2x, 4x, 8x, 12x (CLV) writing and 2x, 4x and 10x (CLV) re-writing.

The writing speed for DVD+RW format is 2.4X CLV (X factor is now 1385Kb/s) which is equivalent to the 20x CD-RW drives. The drive doesn't support CAV writing technology. Among with the attached 2MB of buffer, the drive includes buffer underrun protection for DVD+RW format with the name 'Loss-less linking'. The drive doesn't support writing to DVD+R, DVD-R, DVD-RW and of course to DVD-RAM media.

- The package

The supplied package included the AOpen RW5120A drive among with: one piece of AOpen's 80mins 24x CD-R media, one piece of AOpen's 4-10x HS-RW media, one piece of Ricoh's DVD+RW media and the necessary software: Nero v5.5.5.6, InCD 3.12, PowerDVD v3.0 and CyberLink's Power Director v1.1 for the video playback/editing solution.

The front of the drive contains the "DVD+RW", "Aopen", "High-Speed RW", "DVD+RW" and the "Just Link" logos . The drive has only a reading/writing operating led.

On the back of the drive there are the usual connectors (IDE interface, power), the jumpers for setting the drive as Master/Slave/Cable Select, the SPDIF output connector and 3 jumpers which are not used (factory reserved):

- Installation

The Aopen RW5120A was installed as "master" in the secondary IDE BUS. The drive worked in UDMA-2 mode and after boot up, it identified itself as the "DVD+RW RW5120". We unchecked the Auto Insert notification, checked DMA and rebooted.

The drive was an November 2001 model with an initial firmware revision of v1.37. The drive is RPC2, which means that you can change its DVD region only 4 times. The DVD Region Info software gives the needed RPC2 confirmation (check right picture). We have no information if any region free firmware will be available, from third parties in the near future :-)

- Test Machine

WinMe/XP OSs
Soyo 7VCA
Celeron II 566 over clocked to 850 MHz
128MB SDRAM PC 133
Quantum Fireball EX 6.4 GB UDMA 33
DAWI 2975 - PCI (ULTRA) SCSI Host Adapter
Ricoh MP5120 firmware v1.30
Philips DVDRW208 firmware v1.35
AOpen RW5120 firmware v1.37

2. Data/DVD Tests

AOpen DVD+RW RW5120A - Page 2

Data Tests

- SCSI Mechanic v3.0x results

The Aopen RW5120A did performed almost the same as the competitor drives. The Philips DVD208 drive seems slight faster at the Sequential/Same Sector tests, while the Ricoh MP5120A gets the first place at the Random I/O tests. AOpen's performance is the same as with Ricoh's at both Sequential/Same Sector tests.

- Nero CD Speed v0.85 results: (Click to see the CD Speed Graph)

Using Nero CD Speed 0.84, Aopen RW5120A shows the same behavior with the other drives. The drive starts reading at 14.82X and ends at 32.4X, producing the lower average reading speed of 24.73X..

Also, Aopen RW5120A and the other drives in the test have similar "seek times" results. The drive needs around 100ms for random disc access.

- CDR Media: (Click to see the CD Speed graph)

With CDR media, again Aopen RW5120A performs a little lower than Ricoh MP5120A and Philips DVDRW1208. However, these differences in performance are very small.

- HS-RW media: (Click to see the CD Speed graph)

For the RW tests, we used Ricoh's 4-10x HS-RW media. Aopen's average reading speed with HS-RW media is 25.24X, exactly the same speed as Ricoh MP5120A

- DVD Speed v0.52: (DVD Speed graphs for DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD-RW , DVD+RW)

Aopen RW5120A showed a low performance with DVD-ROM media. The drive kept its reading speed low throughout all the task.

The seek times of Aopen RW5120A are higher than what Ricoh MP5120A and Philips DVDRW1208 can give.

When ripping DVD movies, Aopen RW5120A has an average ripping performance of 7904Kb/s, very close to the competition.

Let us now check the drive performance when reading DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD+RW media. As our tests results showed, the drive can read DVD-R and DVD+RW fast but has problems in recognizing the DVD-RW media, as also happened with the other drives in the test

- Movie Tests

We tested Aopen RW5120A with many DVDs and our overall impression was very good. When using various DVD movies we didn't encountered any visible problem.

3. CloneCD reading Tests
AOpen DVD+RW RW5120A - Page 3

CloneCD Reading Tests

- Procedure

We used CloneCD (v3.1.1.0) and 5 original CDs - Euro 2000 (SafeDisc 1), No One Lives For Ever (SafeDisc 2), Rally Masters (LaserLock 1), Desperados (LaserLock 2) and V-Rally 2 Expert (SecuROM 2) - in order to test the reading performance of the drive. We also tested its reading performance with backups of the original CDs, since the reading speed varies between the original and the backup media. The following pictures show reading/writing capabilities of the drive:

- PSX Pressed Media

For this test we used the PSX game 'NBA Jam Extreme' and we ripped the image to HD with CloneCD. We measured the reading times for Aopen RW5120A, which is low (86secs).

- SafeDisc 1/2 Results

Aopen RW5120A is faster than the already good performer Philips DVDRW208 when reading SafeDisc 1 protected CDs. It needs only 2 mins and 42 seconds to end the task, which is much faster than other DVD+RW recorders, including Ricoh MP5120A.

With SafeDisc v2.0 protected CDs, Aopen RW5120A performs lower than with SD1 CDs, but the final reading time is very good and faster than Philips DVDRW208.

- LaserLock 1/2 Results

In the LaserLock 1/2 protected CDs test, Aopen RW5120A has lower reading performance than Ricoh MP5120A and Philips DVDRW208, with the original & backup CD.

- SecuROM Results

Aopen RW5120A can read SubChannel Data from Data/Audio tracks, although it is a little slower than competition.

4. DAE Tests

Aopen DVD+RW DVDRW5160- Page 4

DAE Tests

- Test Method

We used CD DAE 99 v0.21 beta and EAC v0.9 prebeta 11 software in order to check the DAE performance of the drive with various AudioCDs (both pressed and CDR). The posted DAE results are the average of both applications, but the CPU usage was only taken from CD DAE 99, since EAC occupies the system a lot more. As a last note, we used the "BURST" reading mode of EAC. We made a full CD Rip starting from the first to the last track of the CD. The Average DAE reported speed along with the CPU Usage is displayed in the test graphs.

- DAE features:
As the EAC v0.9 prebeta 11 reported, Aopen RW5120A does support "Caching" of data, "Accurate Stream" and "C2 error info".

- Pressed AudioCD results: (Click to see CDSpeed Graph)

Aopen RW5120A supports up to 32X DAE speed at both pressed/CDR media. Its average performance is around 17.3X, slower than than competition:

- CDR AudioCD Results: (Click to see CD Speed graph)

Aopen RW5120A performed worst with CDR media than with pressed CDs:

- EAC Secure Extract Ripping mode

After many requests from numerous visitors we have added the EAC's secure extract ripping mode results, which ensures maximum produced WAV quality. Note that for each drive we used the build-in detection function:

Tested Drives
Average DAE Speed (X)
Philips DVDRW208
6.5 (sync errors)
Ricoh MP5120A
Aopen DVDRW5160

- Advanced DAE Quality

As it happened with Philips DVDRW1208, Aopen RW5120A had problems with Nero's CD Speed Advanced DAE quality test. It produced 31620 Data errors and got a score of 99. However, the reading speed was high and despite that Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE test says it can read CD-Text, it doesn't:

- Bad CDR Media results

Despite the fact that Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE test stretches a drive's mechanism to the max, we decided to do real life tests with a scratched disc. The disc was dirty, and with some light scratches, enough to cause problems to most of the tested drives. We used CD DAE 99 software to rip the whole disc (756539616 sectors) and the results were very interesting:

Average Speed (X)
Errors Of Total Disc (%)
Philips DVDRW208
Ricoh MP5120A
Aopen DVD5160

As the tests proved, Aopen RW5120A performed worse than the other drives since it produced the highest amount of reading errors.

- Ripping 90 and 99min CDs

The drive managed to read up to 98 min of a 99 min CD.

- Reading Protected AudioCDs

For the test procedure we used 3 protected AudioCDs, which we tested in both recognition and ripping (with CD DAE) processes:

* Pressed AudioCD with Sony's KeyAudio
* Pressed AudioCD with Cactus Data Shield 200 (Natalie Imbruglia - White Lilies Island)
* CDR AudioCD protected with Cactus Data Shield (CDS100) - made with Clone Audio Protector v1.1 (adding 30 secs lead-out)

AOpen RW 5120
Cannot recognize the disc contents
Can rip the contents of the disc without any problems. With Feurio you simply cannot playback only the 1st track
Reads all tracks as Data tracks - ripping impossible

As the test results showed, the AOpen RW5120A cannot handle Cactus Data Shield 200 protected AudioCDs but not Sony's KeyAudio.

5. CDR Tests
AOpen DVD+RW RW5120 - Page 5

CDR Tests

Aopen RW5120A supports up to 12x (CLV) writing. The drive includes 'JustLink' as the main Buffer Underrun Technology. We did our tests with Nero v5.5.5.7, CloneCD v3.1.1.0 and Padus DJ v3.50.799 software. For the CDR tests we used: Creation 74min (12x), Taiyo Yuden 74 & 80min (24x), Mitsui 74min (24 & 16x) and Verbatim/TDK 74min HS-RW media.

- CD-R Tests

We created a "DataCD" job with data slightly higher than 74mins (74:03:65). We burned the same job with all three drives, using the same media:

The AOpen RW5120A has the faster writing time with 404 secs. The Philips DVDRW208 needs one second less than Ricoh MP5120A (406secs) to finish the task.All the drives have the same performance in this test.

- 80min CDs

Following the same procedure as in the previous test, we created a DataCD with data higher than 80min (80:01:47). Again the AOpen RW5120A gets the first place with 434secs, Philips DVD208 comes second and Ricoh MP5120A last with 439 secs:

- Writing Quality Tests:

We used Creation 74min CD-R 12x certified media (real manufacturer Plasmon), and wrote a full 74min CD. All CDs were burned with Nero, and they were Audio CDs with 74:51:27 length size. The produced CDs were measured from DigitalDrives:

12x writing speed
Average Burning Time (secs)
Ricoh MP5120A
Philips DVDRW208
AOpen RW5120

Aopen RW5120A produced 9 average C1 errors, when using low quality media from "Creation". Those are the worst results, especially if you compare it with Philips DVD208. When using higher quality media (such as Taiyo Yuden 80min 24x), the produced C1 error rates are very low (below 1cps). The following graph comes from the Creation 74min 12x media:

Click To Enlarge!

- Overburning Tests

The AOpen RW5120A overburning up to 99mins.

- CD-Text Results

We created several AudioCDs with CD-Text enabled. Aopen RW5120A can write but not read CD-Text from Audio CDs..

- CloneCD Tests

CloneCD v3.1.1.0 reports that the drive supports the DAO-RAW writing feature and "JustLink". From our tests results DAO-RAW writing works without any problem for SafeDisc 1, LaserLock 1/2 and SecuROM 2 protections.

- SD2 Support

For the SD2 test we used the "No One Lives For Ever", "Max Payne" and "Emperor Battle for Dune" CD titles. We used the Philips DVDRW208 both as reader/writer. The produced backup did play when using the same drive but not at any other drive we tested. Therefore it can produce partial SD2 working backups.

- 8cm mini CDs

Aopen RW5120A supports ONLY reading of 8cm CDs.

6. RW-Packet Writing Tests

AOpen DVD+RW RW5120 - Page 6

RW Writing Tests

We used Nero for writing CDs in maximum RW writing speed for all the tested drives in 10x HS-RW media. Aopen RW5120A support the HS-RW writing standard:

Aopen RW5120A had the same burning time performance with Ricoh MP5120A. The erase time is for Aopen RW5120A is lower and the drive takes the first place in this test.

- Packet Writing Tests

We used Ahead InCD v3.14. We used Verbatim's Ricoh HS RW media and we formatted it. The formatting of the media takes around 10min. After formatting, we tested all four drives for their packet writing performance. The formatted disc had 530mbs of free space. We copied a 403 MB file (403.147 kbs) from a Hard Disk (on the same PC as the writers) to the formatted RW media-using explorer (we dragged and dropped) we completed the test twice to eliminate possible time measurement faults and user errors:

The AOpen RW5120A performed very well under packet writing mode. It has the same writing performance with the Ricoh and the same reading perfomance with the Philips drive.

7. DVDRW Tests

Aopen DVD+RW DVDRW5160 - Page 7

DVD Tests

- Writing Performance

We used Nero and wrote the same amount of data for all Pioneer DVR-A03/Ricoh DVD+RW MP5120A/Panasonic LF-D311 /Philips DVDRW208 and Aopen RW5120A drives. In the Nero's writing tab, only the 2.4x writing speed is displayed. The results are listed in the following table among with the average CPU Usage:

DVD Recording Tests
Writing Speed
Average Writing Time (min)
Average CPU Usage (%)
Ricoh MP5120A (DVD+RW)
Pioneer DVR-A03 (DVD-R)
Pioneer DVR-A03 (DVD-RW)
Panasonic LF-D311 (DVD-R)
Philips DVDRW208
Aopen DVDRW5120A

As the tests result showed, the AOpen RW5120 is the faster DVD re-writer,as it currently stands. The Philips DVDRW208A is slower by one second and Ricoh MP5120A needs some improvement since its behind by 17secs. In order to backup almost 4.38GB of data you will need 22:30mins. The Pioneer DVR-A03 needs 28mins at 2X and 56mins at 1X writing speeds.

- Erase Time Performance

Average Erase Time (mins)
Ricoh MP5120A DVD+RW
Pioneer DVR-A03 DVD-RW
Philips DVDRW208
Aopen DVDRW5120A

Aopen RW5120A has very low erase times - less than one minute for quick erase and 11mins for full erase. The drive is just one second slower than Philips DVDRW208.

- Packet Writing Performance

We used the same file/methodology as we are using for our CD packet-writing test. The AOpen RW5120A has the same performance with Philips DVDRW208. The Ricoh MP5120A is slight faster:

Packet Writing/Reading Tests
Average Writing Speed
Average Reading Speed
Ricoh MP5120A DVD+RW (2.4x)
Philips DVDRW208 DVD+RW (2.4x)
Aopen DVDRW5120A

- Compatibility Tests

The compatibility tests done with the same discs used for the DVD-ROM drives (Matsushita's DVD-R, Pioneer's DVD-RW and Ricoh's DVD+RW media). All discs were written with Nero and contained the same DVD movie.

Ricoh MP5120
Philips DVDRW208A
Aopen DVDRW5120A

As we had seen with the Ricoh MP5120A, Aopen RW5120A also supports DVD-R/DVD+RW media without any problems but not DVD-RW media. In fact the drive cannot recognize it at all, while the Ricoh MP5120A could recognize it but the playback of the written DVD movie failed.

8. Conclusion

AOpen DVD+RW RW5120A - Page 8


Positive (+)

Negative (-)

- Super DVD combo recorder
- Supports 8x DVD playback
- Supports "JustLink" anti-coaster technology
- Good reading/writing packet writing performance
- Good access times
- Very good CloneCD reading performance
- Supports HS-RW standard (10x re-write)
- Supports DAO-RAW
- Supports reading of SubChannel data
- Supports CD-Text (writing)
- Supports Overburning ( up to 99mins)
- Supports Ultra-DMA 33
- Can read/rip Cactus Data Shield 200 protected CDs

- Very Dad DAE quality with dusted/scratched CDR media
- High C1 errors with low quality CDs
- Creates partial working SD2 backups
- Cannot read CD-Text
- - Doesn't support reading of DVD-RW discs
DAE could be higher
- Cannot handle all AudioCD protections

The AOpen RW5120A comes to complete the pazzle of the DVD+RW recorders. The drive has almost the same performance as with Ricoh's MP5120A and Philips DVD208 drives. The reason is quite simple. All three drives are based upon the same mechanisms and have similar features. Of course there are variations of the reading/writing performances between the comparable drives which can be examplain due to different firmware revision. Our tests of Ricoh's MP5120A done with 1.30, Philip's DVD208 with 1.35 and AOpen's with 1.37.

The benefits and negatives of buying a DVD+RW recorder is more or less known from our previous reviews. The AOpen does offer the same level of performance ,in some cases better/worse, with Ricoh's/Philips DVD+RW recorders so you cannot make any mistake buying the drive. The arrival of the drive at the market is later than Ricoh's/Philips proposals and a new generation of DVD+RW recorders ,supporting DVD+R authoring, is coming. The price of the drive is around .... Euro and for countries like USA where Ricoh drives are hard to find is a nice solution.

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