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Appeared on: Monday, April 26, 2004
BenQ DW800A Dual Recorder (update)


1. Introduction - Upgrade procedure

BenQ DW800A Dual Recorder - Page 1

Recently BenQ offered all BenQ DW800A users the chance to upgrade their drive(s) from single (+R/RW) to dual (±R/RW) format. BenQ charged users $10 for each drive they wanted to upgrade, mainly due to royalty fees. The initial firmware upgrade allowed 2X DVD-R and 1X DVD-RW recording, with some limitations of course... After a while, BenQ released a new firmware, increasing the DVD-R writing speed to 4X. Let's see how the drive performs at 4X with various DVD-R media.

- Upgrade procedure

Before upgrading your drive, you must visit the BenQ website and read the instructions carefully. After paying the $10 fee, an email confirmation includes all the necessary details (download link and serial number) to complete the procedure. Let's see this step by step. The details of the DW800A drive are available below:

After downloading the -RW firmware, the updater utility prompts us to enter our serial number before flashing the drive. Note that you must be connected to the internet in order to allow the flasher to check the validation of the serial number and proceed with the update process. This way, BenQ ensures that all users will pay to upgrade their drives...

Below is the flash tool's opening window:

As we mentioned, an internet connection is required here. Insert your serial and press the "FLASH" button. If the serial is valid, the process begins:

Once the flashing procedure has ended, you now need to reboot your PC in order for Windows to find the recorder's new ID.

Let's now see our "new" recorder. The drive is identified as "DVD DUAL 8X4X12" and supports DVD-R/-RW writing as DVDInfoPro and CDSpeed show.

Although the drive's ID remains the same, the firmware revision changed to the B3D7, which is final since no newer firmware should be expected in the near future, according to BenQ. For unknown reasons, the B3D7 firmware was removed from the BenQ website only a couple of days after its initiall availability. For all those who are interested, you can download it here.


2. DVD-R recording tests

BenQ DW800A Dual Recorder - Page 2

- Test Setup

For testing the writing performance of the BenQ DW800A Dual recorder with a variety of DVD-R media at 4X, we used the following software:

Nero CD-DVD Speed v2.20

KProbe v1.1.29

- Media

Media Name
Media Code
Rated speed
CDSpeed
Writing speed
Imation
4X
4X
Intenso
4X
4X
Mam
4X
4X
Maxell
4X
4X
Mirror
4X
4X
Noname
4X
4X
PONY
4X
2.4X
BulkPaq Red
4X
4X
Sentinel
4X
4X
SKC
4X
4X
TDK
4X
4X
Verbatim
4X
4X

- Results

Below are the KProbe scans for each media and the corresponding CDSpeed graphs.

Imation 4X DVD-R @ 4X

Intenso 4X DVD-R @ 4X

Mam 4X DVD-R @ 4X

It is interesting that although KProbe returns a very high amount of PI errors, the disc is readable with the BenQ drive. This certainly strengthens the arguments that the measurements taken by KProbe may not be all that reliable..

Maxell 4X DVD-R @ 4X

Mirror 4X DVD-R @ 4X

Again, it is strange that the drive reports an unrecovered read error at the 3.3GB mark, where the PI error level is very low at this point. It is more logical to have expected a read error within the first few GBs of the disc, where the PI error rate is quite high.

Noname 4X DVD-R @ 4X

PONY 4X DVD-R @ 2.4X

BulkPaq Red 4X DVD-R @ 4X

When the PI error rate reaches 600, the BenQ DW800A dual drive stops reading.

Sentinel 4X DVD-R @ 4X

Despite the high spikes in the PI error rate, the CDSpeed graph was perfect.

SKC 4X DVD-R @ 4X

The BenQ DW800A lowers its reading speed to 1.98X.

TDK 4X DVD-R @ 4X

Verbatim 4X DVD-R @ 4X

- Conclusion

Overall the BenQ DW800A performed well in the 4X DVD-R writing tests. With quality media, the drive will produce low error rates (PI) as the KProbe scans showed and the CDSpeed graphs are perfect (4~8X CAV).

However, we noticed problems with non branded media, like:

where the BenQ DW800A reported either unrecoverable read errors or dropped the reading speed. The BenQ DW800A Dual drive also lowered its reading speed with SKC media. Lastly, the PONY (RitekG04) was burned at 2.4X while most other burners support 4x for this disc.

The BenQ DW800A had a good reputation as a quality 8X DVD burner for +R format, and we can say the same holds true for -R format. When used with quality -R media, the results were very good and a future firmware update (if any) should possibly keep the recording speed at 2.4X for a few media types, in order to maintain better writing quality.



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