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Appeared on: Monday, February 18, 2002
Pioneer DVD-104S DVD ROM


1. Region Codes
Pioneer DVD-104S IDE DVD ROM - Page 1

Pioneer DR-104S 10x DVD ROMThis is the latest DVD Rom from Pioneer..Last 6x DVD Rom models made big hit on market..This time Pioneer shipped 10x DVD/40x CD speed read..However this model also includes RPC mode 2 standard which locks drive after 5 changes of region..Will this model also be a must buy or not ??

Introduction
Pioneer's is well known company to most users since it has many patents related to optical technology. It was the 1st company which shipped slot-in CD Roms most of them were very succefull. Slot In drives also continued into DVD Rom models. Previous 4x, 6x models and newest 10x DVD Rom have it.

However the main difference is that this time the drive has RPC mode 2 standard as set down by the DVD Consortium as mandatory for all manufacturers of DVD-ROM drives produced after January 1st 2000. This mean all newest 10x and future DVD Rom will have it. But what is that RPC mode 2 standard about ? It's about Region codes. This time the region protection is hardware. You can change region only 5 times. This is a big problem to many users since many of us have DVDs from different regions.

REGION CODES

Region Codes are part of the DVD Standard. There is a Region number located within one or all of the components required for DVD-VIDEO playback. The Region number defines the region of the DVD-ROM drive and its playback hardware/software. DVD-VIDEO discs may also contain a Region number in the shape of a world globe. Unless the Region number on both the DVD-VIDEO disc and DVD-ROM drive and its playback components match, playback is not possible. When the word "ALL" is located in the world globe on a DVD-VIDEO disc, that particular DVD-VIDEO disc can be played on all DVD-ROM drives and its playback components, regardless of its region.

DVD Region Map

Pioneer DVD-104S DVD ROM Specifications

Supported CD Formats

DVD ROM & Video (Single & Dual Layer), DVD-R (DVD-RAM not supported), CD-R, CD-R/W, CD-DA (Audio CD), CD-ROM (Mode 1 & 2), CD-ROM XA, Video CD, Photo CD (single or Multi-session), CD-EXTRA, HYBRID CD, CD-Text

Interface

ATAPI Model: ATA/ATAPI-4, Ultra DMA 33

Sustained Transfer Rate

4.1X ? 10X (5.58MB/sec ? 13.5MB/sec) for DVD-ROM
17.2X ? 40X (2.58MB/sec ? 6.0MB/sec) for CD-ROM

Seek Time (random/average)

90ms for DVD-ROM
70ms for CD-ROM

Access Time (random/average)

100ms for DVD-ROM
80ms for CD-ROM

Functions

Multi Read, Horizontal & Vertical Mounting Orientation , Analog output, Digital Output (SDPIF), Plug & Play/ SCAM Compatible, Flash ROM

Data Buffer

512KB


2. Installation
Pioneer DVD-104S IDE DVD ROM - Page 2

Package
We boughted the OEM version of Pioneer 10x DVD Rom (DVD-104S), which included nothing more than the drive itself:

Installation:
Status Before Region Free Firmware...I installed Pioneer DVD-104s into my PC. Since it is an IDE device I decided to make it slave on Secondary Bus (after Quantum 6.4 HD). So I changed drive settings to slave and after PC booted up it intentified as Pioneer DVD-104S 10x DVD Rom 0118 into both DOS and Windows. In Windows unchecked Auto Insert notification, checked DMA and reboot. The drive was November 1999 model with v1.18 firmware. After I booted in Win2k from drive properties I could set Region and change it only 5 times. I also used Drive Info v1.02 for testing the region status:

Status After Region Free Fimware!!I connected to the Internet and found that a new firmware update was available. I d/l the update and flashed the drive with the newest v1.23. After more search I found that some guy made a region free firmware v1.23 for Pioneer DVD-104S!. I didn't waste any more time, d/l it and flashed it. After this flash drive was intentified as Pioneer DVD-104F 10x DVD Rom 0123 into DOS. Notice the DVD-104F<< letter. Drive was now region free!. However take notice when using that firmware. Read the instructions VERY carefully! ;)) You can also re-flash drive with future firmware updates from Pioneer (however region free will be lost until new region free firmware comes out.)

Test Machine:
ABIT BH6
Celeron 300A over clocked to 464 MHz
128 MB SDRAM PC 100
Quantum Fireball EX 6.4 GB UDMA
WD 18GB 7200 UDMA66
CL RivaTNT
CL AWE32
MS Windows 98 SE
MS Win2k 2195
Plextor UltraPlex 40max CD Rom - Firmware v1.03
Yamaha 8424s CDR-W - Firmware v1.0d
Sanyo CRD-BP2 CDR-W - Firmware Bc12
Pioneer DVD-104S DVD Rom - Firmware v1.23


3. Tests

Pioneer DVD-104S IDE DVD ROM - Page 3

Test Method:
I used CD Speed 99 v0.6, DVD Speed v0.01 and SiSoft SanDVDa 99 v8.5.30 to run Data tests. I run all tests with DMA On. All tests done at least 3 times ,took worst results, with same CD.

CD Speed results: (Speed : Bigger is better,  Seek Times : less is better, CPU Usage : less is better)

Speed (x)

Seek Time (ms)

CPU Usage (%)

Start

Average

End

Random

1/3

Full

1x

2x

4x

8x

DMA On

17.76

30.19

39.87

75

82

127

1

1

4

6

Pioneer DR-104S Data Graph (DMA On)

SiSoft SanDVDa 99 results

DVDive Index

Track Speed (ppm)

Buffered Read (mb/s)

Sequential Read (mb/s)

Random Read (kb/s)

Average Access Time (ms)

Data On

1956

9964

132

2.820

661

30

Pioneer DR-104S Sisoft Sandra Data Graph (DMA On)

True Use Test:
Copyed an mpg file (678MB) from Pioneer DVD-104s into Quantum 6.4 in 162 sec (27.90x) (CPU Usage was around 13%). We also used it as souce DVDive for writing CDs at 8x, 12x and in all tests performed ok.

Verdict of Data Tests:
Pioneer specification indicates that the DVDive has 2.58mb/s - 6.0mb/s data transfer rate. Read Data Tests showed that it has minimum 2.5mb/s and average was 4.5mb/s. Those speeds would make every user happy. Notice the impressive seek time (75ms for random) and CPU usage (even on full speed it reached 58%). However, the DVDive didn't perform so well in Sisoft SanDVDa tests. Pioneer DVD-104s will satisfy its owners since will it will work fast enough for Data tasks.


4. Results
Pioneer DVD-104S IDE DVD ROM - Page 4

CD Speed  results: (Speed : Bigger is better,  Seek Times : less is better, CPU Usage : less is better)

Dae Quality/ Accurate Stream

Speed (x)

Seek Time (ms)

CPU Usage (%)

Start

Average

End

Random

1/3

Full

1x

2x

4x

8x

Sync On

10 - Yes

11.65

12.07

11.98

882

768

1127

15

18

23

34

Pioneer DR-104s DAE Graph (DMA On)

Various Rippers Results

Test Method: I used CDFS.VXD & EAC v0.9 pre beta 3 to test audio capabilities. EAC reported that DVDive was capable of accurate stream but it also had "caching on". Tests made comparing "Burst" vs "Secure Stream with caching" mode.

Tested CD: The Chemical Brothers "Dig Your Own Hole" - Track :  1, 5, 10

Comparing Method:
- Ripped Tracks 1, 5, 10 of the CD with DVDag & DVDop (using CDFS) and with EAC (Secure & Burst mode).
- Edited all wavs with Hedit v2.0.04 and located the 2 following bytes (chosen randomly)
- Removed all previous bytes and saved.
- Then in a Dos window compared them using: FC /b x.wav y.wav

Programs Settings:
CDFS DVDiver v4.00.130 : DVDag  & DVDop
EAC v0.9b : Burst & Secure Mode / Rip Speed Default / Allow speed reduction / Error correction medium

Program

Average Speed / CPU Usage
(DMA On)

Listening Quality
(DMA On)

1 Track

5 Track

10 Track

CDFS DVDiver v4.00.130

25sec = 11.52x / 7%

28sec = 11.40x / 7%

27sec = 10.80x / 5.2%

No clicks..No sec  lost..Seemed ok!

EAC v0.9 (burst)

8.9x / 28%

11.2x / 30%

11.4x / 32%

No clicks..No sec  lost..Seemed ok!

EAC v0.9b (secure)

2.7x / 6%

3.2x / 6.5%

3.1x / 6.4%

No clicks..No sec  lost..Seemed ok!

 

Comparing Results

CDFS DVDiver v4.00.130

EAC v0.9 (burst)

1 Track

5  Track

10 Track

1 Track

5 Track

10 Track

EAC v0.9b (secure)

same

same

same

same

same

same


Additional Tests
Ripped all tracks using Test & Copy EAC (Burst mode). Into this mode all tracks ripped and tested by EAC (test repeated 3 times). Average ripping speed was 11.8x. CRC check test of EAC in all tests was ok. That means Pioneer DVD-104S is capable of doing up to 12x (max) DAE (CPU Usage 25-30%).

Verdict of DAE Results:
Pioneer DVD-104s maximum DAE performance is 12x as specifications stated. CDFS gave the best results since it had above 10x in all tests. EAC secure mode (with caching) performed from 2.7x-3.2x . Eac Burst mode performed quite good also giving up to 11.4x. As results indicate Pioneer DVD-104S is a good performer for DAE jobs. However if you plan to use it for 12x writing is not a good choise since it cannot follow CDR-W Dive.


5. Results (2)

Pioneer DVD-104S IDE DVD ROM - Page 5

Test Method
I used DVD Speed 99 v0.1 to run DVD tests (DMA On). All tests done at least 3 times ,took worst results, with same DVD - used "The X-Files : Fight the Future" DVD (Region 1 - Dual Side - 7.24GB sized) Movie.

DVD Speed results: (Speed : Bigger is better,  Seek Times : less is better, CPU Usage : less is better)

Speed (mb/s)

Seek Time (ms)

CPU Usage (%)

Start

Average

End

Random

1/3

Full

1x

DMA On

3.95

6.393

4.250

89

108

166

7

Pioneer DR-104S Data Graph (DMA On)

Movie Tests:
We tested Pioneer DVD-104S with many DVDs and our total impression is pretty good. When playing DVD movies average CPU Usage is 60% using Power DVD v2.5. The Region free firmware we used worked ok and we were able to change regions with DVD Genie for Power DVD and other software players.

DVD Tests Verdict:
Pioneer's DVD-104S DVD capabilities are very good. After played several movies with it (and Power DVD 2.5) we were very pleased from it's performance and picture quality. CPU Usage when playing with DVDs was 60% (Win98SE) which is average since other past Pioneers 6x DVD Rom model reached 100%. If you have a CPU less than PII300 consider taking an Mpeg2 hardware decoder for playing DVD titles else you might face problems.


6. Conclusion

Pioneer DVD-104S IDE DVD ROM - Page 6

Conclusion

Positive (+)

Negative (-)

- 10x DVD Read
- Multi Read
- CD Text Support
- CAV
- Good Seek Times
- Good Data Transfer Times
- Good DAE speed (up to 12x)
- Digital Output
- Flash Memory
- Low CPU Usage
- Ultra DMA 33

- Region Locked
- Price (120-140$)
- Noise :(


Overall the Pioneer DVD-104s seems to be very a very good drive. Data and DAE parts are very satisfactory and the high CPU load bug of Pioneer's 6x (IDE) models has been fixed. We used the drive as a source for writing CDs ,with Sanyo CRD-BP2, at 12x and drive managed it ok for data. If you plan to use it for AudioCD copy with 12x writing you will have problems.

Previous Pioneer 6x model didn't had good data performance and when used for CD to CD copy this caused buffer underruns and coasters. The SPDIF digital output will please power users, who can connect it to suitably equipped sound cards (such as Creative's SounBlaster Live! series). Also notice that drive produces enough noise to fill your ears when it spins up CD. I hope into next model Pioneer fix this..

DVD Performance is very good and CPU usage is average when using software players. It's price is some overrated and current Pioneer 6x DVD owners hardly will find reasons to change their drives and buy the newest 10x.Also remember that drive is region locked (which most of 10x DVD Rom are..) and if have a big collection of different regions DVD this will cause you problems. For you consider going for the 6x model which is region free (you can change regions with DVD Genie).



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