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Appeared on: Thursday, December 05, 2002
INcoder GH32U-A1 DVD/CD-RW


1. Introduction

INcoder GH32U-A1 CD-RW - Page 1

- Introduction

is a new company that aims to ship optical storage solutions for the portable users. External USB2.0 is the latest trend of the optical storage industry. Many manufacturers ship external drives, mostly based on the USB2.0 connection interface, since it offers increased portability among with easy installation. The GH32U-A1 supports both CD/DVD formats in one package.

- Specifications

The INcoder GH32U-A1 supports the Z-CLV recording technology and the CAV reading technology. The drive's features according to Nero Info Tool are the following:

The drive supports 40X (CD) and 8X (DVD) maximum reading, 32X writing, and 12X re-writing speeds. Buffer underrun protection is present and the drive has an RPCII protection. The cache buffer is 2MB and reading of CD-Text and CD+G is supported. Nero Info Tool reports that C2 error information is also supported but its accuracy will be examined later. The drive has RPCII region protection. Lastly the Mt. Rainier format is not present.

- Recording/Re-writing speeds

The drive reaches 32X speed with the use of Z-CLV recording technology. Below is the Nero CD Speed writing graph that illustrates the implementation of Zone-CLV:

The 32x writing speed range is divided in 3 zones: The drive starts writing at 16X from the lead-in area till 16mins, shifts up to 24X at 17mins, and lastly shifts to 32X at 42mins and stays there until the end. The average recording speed is 25.82X, as Nero CD Speed shows. The speed is slower than with other internal 32X writers.

- The package

We got the retail version that includes: the drive, 32X CD-R media, 12X HS-RW media, a DC adapter and the USB2.0/1.1 cable. The attached software comes from Ahead (Nero Burning Rom, InCD) and InterVideo (WinDVD software). A printed manual that explains the basic installation and a diskette with device driver for Win98SE are also bundled.

Looking at the front panel, we can see the "INcoder", "HS-RW", "DVD-ROM" and "32X/10X/40X" logos printed on the tray. The eject button is placed in the top right corner and is backlighted with a blue electric colour. Two leds can be found in the front (orange/green), which indicate the drive's operation status.

The futuristic design of the drive is clearly defined in the following picture.

The exact same drive comes also in a white bezel

On the rear panel we will find the DC-in power connector and the USB2.0/1.1 compatible connection interface. Note that the drive is also available with a FireWire interface also.

On the bottom of the drive we can see the model's codename:

- Installation

The INcoder GH32U-A1 was connected with the included USB2.0 cable. The drive was recognized as an "HL-DT-ST RW/DVD GCC-4320B". We used Nero v5.5.9.17, CloneCD v4.1.0.1 and Ahead InCD v3.51.61 for the recording tests. The drive came with v1.00 firmware revision, which is the latest version available.


2. Data Reading Tests

INcoder GH35U-A1 DVD/CD-RW - Page 2

Data CD Tests

- Pressed CD results (Click to see the CD Speed Graph)

The INcoder GH32U-A1 was the slowest drive in the test compared with other 40X readers. The drive starts reading at 17.82X and ends at 40.17X giving a 30.5X average reading speed.

The seek times were very good and only ASUS CRW3212 was faster. In the random stroke the drive had 90ms average seek time and 165ms in the full stroke.

- CDR Media results (Click to see the CD Speed Graph)

With CD-R media, the drive is still slower than other internal readers. The average reading speed was higher than with pressed media, and reached the 31.65X.

The seek times with CD-R media were low, and only the CyQve 3248 was faster.

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

For the RW tests we used HS-RW media. The drive got the second best position with a 25.34X average reading speed.


3. CD Error Correction Tests
INcoder GH32U-A1 DVD/CD-RW- Page 3

Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we examined the error correction capabilities of the drive.

- EAC CD-R Test Disc

- Test Results (Max Reading)

Errors total
Num: 43770
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 1362
Avg:-68.2 dB(A)
Max: -7.2 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 65
Avg: 69.1 Samples
Max: 563 Samples
Skips Samples
Num:5
Avg: 9.6 Samples
Max:24 Samples
Total Test Result
72.4 points (of 100.0 maximum)

The drive starts reporting errors at 12mins. The errors within the black triangle defect, reached the -7.2dB (A) in specific areas. From the five scratches, the first two are repaired fully while the rest produced errors with high signal/noise level of -16dB(A). The score is of 72.4 out of 100 (max), which is an average performance.

- ABEX TCD-721R

- Test Results (Max speed)

Errors total
Num: 1409726
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 35370
Avg: -72.7 dB(A)
Max:-18.4 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 65740
Avg: 1.0 Samples
Max: 9 Samples
Skips Samples
Num:0
Avg: 0 Samples
Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result
76.2 points (of 100.0 maximum)

The score for the drive is still average. Even the drive didn't skip any sample, many muting samples were reported and several spikes reached the -18.4 dB (A) giving a 76.2 score.

- ABEX TCD-726

- Test Results (Max Speed)

Errors total
Num: 48223
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 240
Avg:-28.8 dB(A)
Max: -20.1 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num:113
Avg:1.0 Samples
Max: 1 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 1
Avg: 500 Samples
Max: 500 Samples
Total Test Result
74.0 points (of 100.0 maximum)

The TCD-726 was an easy disc for the INcoder GH32U-A1 drive. There were only a few errors in the start and at the 28mins. The spikes reached -20.1 dB (A) giving a score of 74.0 points.

- Conclusion

Test Disc
Reading Speed
Score
EAC CD-R
Max
72.4
ABEX TCD-721R
76.2
ABEX TCD-726
74.0
Average Score
74.2

The drive gets an average 74.2 score out of 100 at our reading error correction tests.

- C2 Information accuracy

- Test Results (MAX Speed)

The C2% score was 99.99% while the quality scores 84.1. The C2% error reporting didn't work with the c2 extract software, so there are no graphs and results from the EAC analyzer.


4. DVD Reading Tests

INcoder GH32U-A1 DVD/CD-RW - Page 4

DVD reading tests

- Test Method

We used Nero DVD Speed to run the DVD reading tests. All the tests were performed at least 3 times with the same DVD title (we show the average results). The tests discs were one single sided, single layer DVD-ROM, one single sided, dual layer DVD-ROM, DVD-R,-RW, +R and DVD+RW.

- Single Layer DVD-ROM reading: (Click for DVDSpeed results)

The INcoder GH32U-A1 supports the 8X CAV maximum reading speed. The average speed with the TDR-820A test disc was 7.67X

The seek times with the single layer DVD-ROM disc was very good. The drive needed only 99ms for the random and 187ms for the full stroke test.

- Dual Layer DVD-ROM reading: (Click for DVDSpeed results)

With the dual layer DVD-ROM test disc, the drive was slower with a 6.13X average reading speed.

The seek times for the dual layer DVD-ROM test disc were slightly increased compared to the results with the single layer disc. However, the performance is high.

- DVD Ripping Tests

We measured the DVD Ripping speed by using the "Matrix" DVD Video title and DVD Decrypter v3.0 software.

The ripping speed of the INcoder GH32U-A1 was very good with an 8828Kb/s average ripping speed!

- DVD reading Tests

The charts below shows the Nero CD Speed results with the following media.

The drive didn't have any problems to read any type of DVD recordable/re-writeable media we used. The average reading speed in all cases is similar (4.58-4.64X).


5. DVD Error Correction Tests
INcoder GH32U-A1 DVD/CD-RW - Page 5

DVD Error Correction tests

In the following tests we examined the DVD error correction capabilities. For the tests we used CDVD Benchmark v1.21 and Nero DVD Speed. The reference test discs come from ALMEDIO.

- Single Layer media

ABEX TDR-821

 

This is a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM with a 4.7GB capacity, with scratches. The drive ends the reading test without any reading errors. The drive lowered its reading speed after the size of the artificial scratch exceeded a specific limit but no read errors occurred.

ABEX TDR-825

This is also a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM with a 4.7GB capacity. The disc contains defects and fingerprints. The drive did not have any problems to read the disc contents. The yellow dots correspond to the current speed in each area of the disc. No read errors were reported.

- Dual Layer media

ABEX TDR-841

This is an 8.5GB dual layer, single sided DVD-ROM disc with artificial scratches with dimensions from 0.4 to 48 mm, in both layers. The result is very good, as it was expected, judging from the reading test with the single layer disc.

ABEX TDR-845

 

The disc is an 8.5GB dual layer, single sided DVD-ROM disc with defected areas and fingerprints. Again the drive easily overcomes the defected areas and successfully finishes the reading test.

ABEX TDV-541

 

The TDV-541 is a single sided, dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc (8.5GB) with scratches. The performance was not very good since the drive aborted reading after the drive passed over the second layer.

ABEX TDV-545

 

The TDV-545 disc is a single sided, dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc (8.5GB) with artificial black dots and fingerprints. The test was successful, with a 6.21X average speed and 138 ms for the layer change time.


6. CloneCD Reading Tests

INcoder GH32U-A1 DVD/CD-RW - Page 6

CloneCD Reading Tests

- Procedure

We used CloneCD and 4 original CDs - Serious Sam 2 (SafeDisc 2), Desperados (LaserLock 2), V-Rally 2 Expert (SecuROM 2) and NBA Jam Extreme (PSX) - in order to test the reading time of the drives. We also tested the reading performance with backups of the original CDs, since the reading speed varies between original and backup media. The following pictures show the drive reading/writing capabilities as CloneCD reports:

- PSX Pressed Media

For this test we used the PSX game 'NBA Jam Extreme' and we ripped the image to the HD with CloneCD. The drive needs only 53secs to finish the task, almost the same time as ASUS CRW3212.

- SafeDisc v.2 Results

The drive needs 18mins to end the task. The internal drives are not much faster, and only ASUS CRW3212 gave a higher result.

- LaserLock v.2 Results

With the LaserLock v.2 protected disc, the drive finished after 35 minutes. The Asus drive is still the fastest in the test.

- SecuROM Results

Incoder GH32U-A1 can read SubChannel data from Data/Audio tracks. 4:13 minutes were enough for the drive to make the image file to the hard disk.


7. DAE Tests

INcoder GH32U-A1 DVD/CD-RW - Page 7

DAE Tests

- DAE features

EAC v0.9 reports that the drive doesn't cachine data, supports "Accurate Stream" and can retrieve "C2" error information.

- Pressed AudioCD results

In this test we examine the DAE speed of the drive. The INcoder drive was fast enough to get the second position below ASUS CRW3212 with a 29.3X. No errors produced while ripping the disc.

- CDR AudioCD results

With CD-R media, the ripping speed reached the 30.1X, which is high enough to get again the second best position.

- EAC Secure Extract Ripping mode

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)
Pressed
CDR
INcoder GH32U-A1
22.5
22.6

- Advanced DAE Quality

The drive didn't have a perfect (100) score in the Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE test. It produced 7895 Data errors and got a 99.7 score. The drive can also read data from SubChannel and CD Text.

- Bad CDR Media results

Average Speed (X)
Errors
Errors Of Total Disc (%)
INcoder GH32U-A1
Cannot recognize disc contents

We used CD DAE software to rip the whole disc (756539616 sectors) to the hard disk. The drive didn't recognize the disc contents :(

- Ripping 90 and 99mins AudioCDs

Tested drives
Ripping up to
INcoder GH32U-A1
90mins

- Reading/Ripping Protected AudioCDs

For the test procedure we used 2 protected AudioCDs, which we tested in both recognition and ripping (with EAC) processes:

* Pressed AudioCD with Sony Key2Audio (Celine Dion - New Day Has Come)
* Pressed AudioCD with Cactus Data Shield 200 (Natalie Imbruglia - White Lilies Island)

Key2Audio
CDS200
INcoder GH32U-A1
Cannot recognize disc contents
Recognizes disc contents but cannot rip

The drive cannot handle either "Key2Audio" or "Cactus Data Shield 200" protected audio discs.


8. CDR Tests
INcoder GH32U-A1 DVD/CD-RW - Page 8

CDR Tests

We tested the drive with latest version of Nero/CloneCD. The drive supports only 8X, 16X (CLV) and 24X, 32X (Z-CLV) recording speeds. For all the recording tests, we used slightly more than 80min of data (80:01:47).

- Recording Tests

The INcoder drive was the slower recorder in all the recording speeds. The Z-CLV implementation was slower than the other 32X Z-CLV recorders. At the maximum speed (32X) it needs 3:53mins to end the task. The CyQve 3248 is faster by 19 seconds.

- Writing quality

We used Plasmon media and burned them at the 32X speed. The results are illustrated in the following table.

Brand
C1
Average Burning Time (mins)
Comments
Max
Average
Prodisc 80min 40X
22
1.0
3:53
Imation 80min 32X
23
3.5
3:53
C2 errors at 5mins
SanyoDigital 80min 32X
30
3.5
3:53
TY 80min 32X
25
0.6
3:54
SKC 80min 16X
30
3.4
3:53

The produced writing quality is high with certain media. The drive did not work well with Imation (CMC Magnetics) CD-R media since it may wrote it at 32X but produced C2 errors. The best results came with Taiyo Yuden 32X media (0.6 C1 average error rate).

- C1/C2 error graph from Imation 80min 32X @ 32X

- C1/C2 error graph from SanyoDigital 80min 32X @ 32X

- Overburning Tests

The drive can overburn up to 99mins.

- CD-Text Results

Both drives can read/write CD-Text without any problems.

- CloneCD Writing Tests

The CloneCD software reports that the drive supports the DAO-RAW feature. With the use of proper media, DAO-RAW writing can be performed at 32X (CAV). For checking the drive's EFM correction status, we used 3 different game titles with different SafeDisc 2 versions with the latest software patches installed. We used the drive as reader/writer at maximum reading/recording speed. Two discs were burned for each game. One disc was burned with PadusDJ and the other with CloneCD (Amplify Weak Sectors On). The results are posted in the following table:

Game Title
Tested Drive
SD2 Build
Settings
CloneCD (Amplify Weak Sectors On)
PadusDJ
Max Payne v1.05
Creative 52X
CD-ROM
v.2.50.020
Ok
TEAC 40X
CD-ROM
BTC DV316
DVD-ROM
Serious Sam - The Second Encounter v1.07
Creative 52X
CD-ROM
v.2.60.052
Ok
TEAC 40X
CD-ROM
BTC DV316
DVD-ROM
The Sims - Unleashed
Creative 52X
CD-ROM
v2.80.010
Ok
TEAC 40X
CD-ROM
BTC DV316
DVD-ROM

The INcoder GH32U-A1 didn't have any problem to backup discs protected with SD2 v2.5x.xx ~ 2.80.xx builds.


9. RW/Packet Writing Tests

INcoder GH32U-A1 DVD/CD-RW - Page 9

HS-RW Writing Tests

We used Nero Burning Rom for writing a HS-RW media at the maximum speed (10X). The drive was slower than the other drives (12X) due to its lower re-writing speed (10X). The task was finished in 7:56mins.

- Packet Writing Tests

We used InCD and a HS-RW media for all Packet Writing tests. The formatting of the media takes around 10min. 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:

In the writing part, the drive gets the third place with 6.92X average writing speed, and is the second fastest reader with 17.22X.


10. Conclusion

INcoder GH32U-A1 DVD/CD-RW - Page 10

Conclusion

Positive (+)

Negative (-)

- Futuristic design
- External combo drive with USB2.0 interface
- Supports "Buffer underrun protection" technology
- High DVD ripping speed
- Can read all types of DVD recordable/re-writeable media
- Very good DVD error correction/reading quality
- Can backup SD2 protected discs without the need of special software
- C2 error information is present with high accuracy
- Good DAE reading speed
- Good CD-R writing quality
- Supports reading of SubChannel data
- Supports CD-Text (reading/writing)
- Supports overburning up to 99mins
- Complete retail package

- The writing times are higher than with other 32X recorders
- Average CD error correction capabilities
- Cannot handle any protected Audio disc
- Cannot recognize our Bad DAE CD-R media
- Not a perfect performance in the Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE test
- Cannot read above 90mins

The INcoder GH32U-A1 is an attractive proposal since it offers increased writing/reading speeds for CD format, while it supports reading of DVD discs. Its 32X writing, 10X re-writing and 40X reading speeds of the CD format are the faster you can find nowadays in the combo market. The 8X DVD reading speed can be considered as satisfactory for our daily needs.

On the positive side, the drive's external design is unique, worked fine under the USB2.0 interface, supports Buffer Underrun technology, can rip DVD movies in high speed, can read ALL types of DVD recordable/re-writeable media and its DVD error correction is very good with a read failure in a particular test. Continuing presenting the positive's we should mention the ability to backup SD2 protected discs without the need of special software. Audiophiles will find the DAE speeds high among with the presence of C2 error information that can be retrieved with high accuracy. Last but not least, the drive can overburn up to 99mins.

On the negative side, the writing speeds are higher than with internal writers, the drive cannot handle any type of Audio protected disc, it offers average CD error capabilities and possibly won't read any medium-high damaged AudioCD. Even it can write 99min discs, it won't read them back since the process will stop at around 90mins.



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