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Appeared on: Wednesday, May 26, 2004
LiteOn SDW-431S

1. Package - Installation

LiteOn Slimtype SDW-431SX - Page 1

The latest external DVD writer from LiteOn is the SDW-431S. According to the manufacturer, the drive supports 4x DVD+R, 2x DVD+RW and 2x for DVD-R/RW. Of course, the drive is also a CD recorder with support for speeds of 24x and 10x for CD-R and CD-RW respectively, while as a reader, the drive can easily read DVD at the speed of 8x and CD at 40x. Below are presented analytically, the specifications for the new drive as they have been declared by the manufacturer.

- Features
- Specifications
USB 2.0
Buffer Size
2 MB
Access Time
DVD Family :128 ms
CD Family : 110 ms
Write Speed
DVD Family
Writing speed: DVD+R 4x ( 4500KB/sec ) by Z-CLV
DVD-R 2x ( 2700KB/sec ) by Z-CLV
Re-writing speed DVD+RW 2x ( 2700KB/sec ) by Z-CLV
DVD-RW 2x ( 2700KB/sec ) by Z-CLV
CD Family
Writing speed 24x ( 3600KB/sec ) by CAV
Re-writing speed 10x ( 1500KB/sec ) by CAV
Read Speed
DVD Family
8x ( 10800KB/sec ) by CAV
CD Family
24x ( 3600KB/sec ) by CAV
Read Formats
DVD Family
DVD single / dual layer ( PTP / OTP ), DVD-R ( 3.9 GB / 4.7 GB ) , DVD-R multi-borders, DVD+R, DVD+R multi-sessions, DVD-RW, and DVD+RW

CD Family
CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-ROM / XA, Photo-CD, Multi-session, Karaoke-CD, Video-CD, CD-I FMV, CD Extra, CD Plus, CD-R, and CD-RW

Writing mode
DVD Family
DVD Data and Video
CD Family
Support Fixed Packet, Variable Packet, TAO, SAO, DAO, Raw Mode Burning
Support OS
Windows 98SE / ME / 2000 / XP
135.0 ( W ) x 22.0 ( H ) x 174.0 ( D ) mm
405 g
Support both 8 cm and 12 cm disc of CD and DVD family

As shown in the above snapshots, the drive has 2MB buffer, is able to write under TAO, DAO, SAO, and RAW modes but does not support Mount Rainier, DVD-RAM and DVD+R DL reading and writing.

- Retail package

The retail package includes the LiteOn external drive, a USB cable, an audio connector cable for speakers or headphones and the power supply cable.
As for software, the retail package includes CyberLink Power DVD XP for DVD-Video playback and Sonic MyDVD for Video authoring. There is also a floppy with USB 2.0 device drivers for Win98.
Finally there are two blank DVD media, one DVD+R and one DVD-R, to get started with your first DVD writing.


- The drive

The drive's front panel, which is basically the loading tray, has the activity led indicator, the eject button and the emergency eject hole.

On the upper side of the drive are placed the supported media format logos along with LiteOn's logo and the power led indicator.

On the rear panel, there are the USB 1.1/2.0 connector, the power adapter input and an audio line output, in case you want to connect the drive to external speakers and use it as an audio playback device.

- Installation

Our test PC was a 1.8 GHz P4 configured with 512Mb RAM, an 80GB 7200rpm hard drive and Windows XP Professional SP1. The drive was connected to our test PC and was identified as "Slimtype DVDRW SDW-431S". All reading tests were done with firmware vMSOJ.

For the recording tests we updated the firmware to the latest vMSOK, released just a few days before. The new firmware adds support for a lot more media.

The following pages include test results for LiteOn drive in comparison with two other external DVD burners, the FREECOM FX-50 DVD+/-RW and Pioneer DVR-SK12D Dual DVD±RW recorders.

2. Data CD Reading Tests

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Data CD Reading Tests

In order to test the reading performance of the LiteOn drive, we used the latest version of NeroCDSpeed with different CD media formats.
- Pressed CD results (Click for CDSpeed results)

To check the reading performance of the LiteOn with pressed CD media, we used NeroCDSpeed and a data pressed disc.

The reading performance of the external Slimtype LiteOn SDW431-S was quite acceptable, managing to reach and slightly surpass the 24X maximum reading speed as stated in the manufacturer' s specifications, with CAV strategy. The seek times test graph showed that the drive was fast but not the fastest of the comparison.

- CD-R results (Click for CDSpeed results)

To check the reading performance of LiteOn with CDR media, we used NeroCDSpeed and a clone of the previous tested pressed media.

With results very similar to those with the pressed disc, the reading test with CD-R media finished with an end speed of 24.81X and quite fast seek times.

- ReWritable Media (Click for CDSpeed results)

To check the reading performance of the LiteOn with HS-RW media, we used NeroCDSpeed and a HSRW disc from Mitsubishi Chemicals.

The reading performance of the LiteOn with CD-RW media was again very similar to the results of previously tested media of the CD family. CAV reading strategy and end speed at 24.06X were the results that NeroCDSpeed reported.

3. CD Error Correction Tests

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Error Correction Tests

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: 779091
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 44218
Avg: -73.8 dB(A)
Max:- 36.0 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 2488
Avg: 1.0 Samples
Max: 11 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0 Samples
Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result
77.1 points (out of 100.0 maximum)

The 721R test disc is generally difficult to read with most drives. The LiteOn drive however, managed to finish the error correction test successfully and the software awarded the drive with a total score of 77.1 points out of 100. Throughout the test, there were muting samples and an average loudness of -73.8 dB(A) but there were no skipped samples, meaning that the drive managed to read all the defective areas. The total number of errors is also quite low.

- ABEX TCD-726



Errors total
Num: 0
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 4
Avg: -174.0dB(A)
Max: -174.0 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0 Samples
Max: 0 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0 Samples
Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result
100.0 points (out of 100.0 maximum)

Since the LiteOn received a very good score with the 721R test disc, it was expected that it should do well with the 726 Abex test disc, which somewhat easier for most drives to handle. The test finished quickly and the drive was awarded with a total score of 100.0 points (perfect).

- CD-Check Audio Test Disc

The CD-Check Test Disc is a very useful 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 reading music abilities and reproduce it completely. Five tracks on the disc contain a progressively difficult sequence. These tracks are referred to as Check Level-1 through Check Level-5.

The tracks are reproduced (played) through a software multimedia player (i.e. Winamp, PowerDVD, Windows Media Player). Each level is considered as passed, if the tone coming out from the speakers is clear and continuous without interruptions, skipping or looping. The higher the Check Level passed, the more reliable the sound reproduction of the drive.

Error Level
BenQ DW822A

The performance of the external LiteOn drive was satisfactory. The drive managed to read the first three tracks of CD-Check Test Disc without problems. The last two tracks were played back but there were many audible clicks, so these levels could not be considered as passed.

- Summary

Test Disc
Reading Speed
Average Score

The overall performance of the external LiteON SDW-431S with the CD error correction tests is very acceptable. The average score for the drive with the Abex discs is 88.55 points, and could be considered among the best.

4. DVD reading tests

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DVD reading tests

- Single Layer DVD-ROM (Click for CDSpeed results)

To check the reading performance of the LiteOn drive with single layer DVD-ROM, we used NeroCDSpeed and the 820A test disc from Abex.

The LiteOn and Pioneer drives returned almost the same reading speed with single layer DVD-ROM while the Freecom was by far the fastest. The external LiteOn drive, read the disc under CAV mode, but as CDSpeed showed the speed of the drive was not constant. With the seek times, the LiteOn returned slightly increased times compared to the Freecom drive, but the times are still quite acceptable.

- Dual Layer PTP DVD-ROM (Click for CDSpeed results)

The two layers of a PTP DVD-ROM disc are read sequentially, with the drive starting the read process from the inner tracks on the disc, where lies the beginning of each layer and progressing outwards towards to the outer tracks for each layer. The tools for this test are Nero CDSpeed and Abex 840 test disc.

Although the LiteOn did not perform smoothly with the previously tested single layer DVD-ROM, the dual layer disc was read without problems and the test finished with an end speed of 6.19x. The seek times graph shows that the LiteOn performed faster than the Pioneer but slower than Freecom drive.

- Dual Layer OTP DVD-ROM

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 on 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 inwards towards the inner tracks of the disc.

The CDSpeed screenshot shows smooth reading performance during the OTP reading test. Speed-wise, the test finished with an average reading speed of 4.60X and 6.14X at the end of the first layer. The drive used CAV reading strategy.

- DVD Ripping Tests

We measured the DVD-Video ripping speed of the LiteOn drive using the latest version of DVD Decrypter. The DVD Video title is the "Matrix" pressed DVD-Video.

The LiteOn returned an acceptable average ripping speed after the end of the ripping test. According to DVD Decrypter, the average read rate was 6.730 KB/s (4.9X) while during the test, the maximum read rate reached 8.651 KB/s (6.2X) The above graph shows that the LiteOn was faster than the external Pioneer DVR-SK12D but slower than the Freecom external writer.

- DVD Recordable / Rewritable reading Tests

The chart below shows the Nero CDSpeed average reading speed results for the following formats:

The LiteOn read all four tested writable and rewritable DVD's at almost the same average speed. The LiteOn external device, read all discs under CAV reading strategy and reported average speeds that ranged from 4.54X up to 4,57X for all media. According to the graphs, the LiteOn drive was faster than the Pioneer and about equal to the Freecom.

5. DVD Error Correction Tests

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DVD Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we examined the DVD reading capabilities of the LiteOn with scratched / defective DVD media. For the tests we used CDVD Benchmark and Nero CDSpeed. The reference test media come 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. The following transfer rate picture comes from the CDVD Benchmark v1.21 transfer rate test.

The LiteOn managed to pass all the defective areas without problem. The drive recognized the disc as a single layer DVD-ROM and used P-CAV reading strategy. As shown in the above screenshot, a little after reaching top speed, the speed alternated between 4.8X and 3.5X and that method was kept until the end of the test.

This is also a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM with 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 the surface and instead defective areas ranging in dimensions from 0.5 to 1.1 mm. There are also fingerprints with height between 65 and 75 micrometers.

Just as with the previous tested single layer DVD-ROM, so too with the ABEX TDR-825 test disc the LiteOn drive read the entire surface without problems, since the software did not report any errors. The drive used the same reading strategy and read the disc with a maximum reading speed of 4.8X.

- 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 above screenshot shows the error correction performance of the LiteOn with dual layer DVD-ROM. The drive read both layers under P-CAV and with high end speed. Just as with the previous single layer media, the drive alternated reading speed between 4.8X and 3.5X, a little after reaching top speed. The test finished successfully without error messages.


This disc is a single sided, dual layer DVD-Rom disc with capacity of 8.5GB. The only difference between the TDR-845 and the TDR-841 is that the first includes both defective areas and fingerprints. The dimensions of the defective areas range from 0.5 to 1.1 mm and the fingerprints have height sized from 65 to 75 microns (micrometers).

Once again the same reading performance from the LiteOn, with P-CAV reading strategy, high end speed and alternations in reading speed between 4.8X and 3.5X.


The TDV-541 is a single sided, dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc, with a capacity of 8.5GB.The disc is based on 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 current TDV-541 also checks the error correcting capabilities of the drive and includes scratches sized from 0.4 to 3.0 mm.

NeroCDSpeed confirms the very good DVD error correction capabilities of the LiteOn. The test finished quickly without changes to the reading speed at the defective areas. Also, as NeroCDSPeed shows, the drive had no problem during the layer switch operation.

The TDV-545 disc is based on the TDV-540 series. It is a single sided, dual layer Video/S-2 disc with a capacity of 8.5GB. The TDV-545 includes artificial black dots on the disc's surface, sized from 0.4 to 1.0 mm. It also has 65 - 75 micrometers high fingerprints.

Once again very good error correction performance from the LiteOn. Fast average reading speed, with an end speed at 6.19x and no errors during the reading test.

6. Protected Disc Tests

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Protected Disc Tests

- Reading Tests

To create an image of the various protected titles onto a hard disk, we used Alcohol 120% and the appropriate settings, depending on the protection type of the inserted discs. Below are summarized the capabilities of the LiteOn, according to CloneCD software. The summary below shows that the drive supports writing of CD+G under RAW DAO:

The game titles we used to test the reading speed for each protection scheme are given in the table below:

Game Title
Protection Scheme
PSX "NBA Jam Extreme"
Serious Sam The Second Encounter v1.07
SafeDisc v.2.60.052
VRally II
SecuROM v.2
PSX Pressed Media

SafeDisc v.2

SecuROM v.2

The LiteOn returned slow ripping times with Securom and PSX protected games. With the SafeDisc2 protected game the ripping speed was acceptable but still not the fastest of the comparison.

- Writing Tests
The LiteOn supports the DAO-RAW writing mode. For checking the drive's EFM correction status, we used 3 different game titles with different SafeDisc versions. After making the image files of the various titles to the hard disk, we burned them (maximum speed) with Alcohol and we played each burnt disc on the following three devices. Two different discs were created for each title; one with the "Amplify Weak Sectors " enabled and one with the function disabled.

The table below shows the results of the attempted backups and whether they worked (game installed / played normally), or not.

Tested Device
Game Title / Protection
Max Payne
Serious Sam The Second
Encounter v.2.60.052
The Sims Unleashed
The Sims Superstar
Fifa 2004
Amplify Weak Sectors



The LiteOn drive made working backups, either with Amplify Weak sectors on and off, of all game titles except for Fifa 2004. Even with SafeDisc v2.9 the drive managed to make playable discs. The written discs were fully playable on the LiteOn and Plextor drives, while the Toshiba drive could not play the Safedisc v2.9 disc with the Amplify Weak Sectors option enabled.

7. DAE Tests

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DAE Tests

- Pressed and CDR AudioCD results

The new LiteOn slimtype SDW-431S supports 24X maximum reading speed for DAE media and uses CAV reading strategy, and Nero CDSpeed confirmed these specifications.

Click for full graph

To test the ripping speed of the LiteOn we ripped the contents of the previously used pressed audio disc to our hard disk, using the CDDAE software. Then we repeated the same ripping process with a clone of the pressed disc to test the ripping performance of the LiteOn with CD-R audio discs and we summarized the results on the above graph. Both pressed and CD-R media gave back similar average speeds, but that speed was the slowest of the comparison.

- Advanced DAE Quality

CDSpeed advanced DAE quality test confirms that the LiteOn is not an ideal solution for DAE. Although the drive managed to finish the test without Data or Sync errors and awarded with quality score 100 (perfect), the software reported that the drive cannot be safely used for OnTheFly copies as a reader at speeds over 10x. On the advanced features, the drive supports Subchannel Data bat according to the graph, LiteOn gave back the slowest reading speed of the comparison.

- Support of 90/99mins AudioCDs

LiteOn managed to rip the contents of our 90/99min test discs successfully.

- Reading/Ripping Protected AudioCDs

For the test procedure we used two audio discs with different audio protection schemes. We tested for both recognition and ripping to the hard disk. The software used was Exact Audio Copy.

* Pressed Audio disc protected by Sony Key2Audio (Celine Dion - New Day Has Come)

* Pressed Audio disc protected by Cactus Data Shield 200 (Natalie Imbruglia - White Lilies Island)

LiteOn SDW-431S
Freecom FX-50
Pioneer DVR-SK12D
Recognizes disc contents but cannot rip tracks

It seems that the LiteOn is not the best solution for ripping DAE discs but it can easily handle Audio protected media, as shown on the above table.

8. CD Recording Tests

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CD Recording Tests

- CD-R Writing Tests

To test the writing speed and writing method of the drive we used a blank 80min CD-R disc from TY and NeroCDSpeed to emulate the writing process.

Click for full graph

The above screenshot comes from NeroCDSpeed and shows that the external LiteOn SDW-431S, uses P-CAV writing strategy. The writing process started at 10.01X and finished at 24.05X verifying the manufacturer's specification for 24X writing.

- Recording Times

We created an 80min data compilation with Nero Burning Rom and recorded it on a 700MB disc.

The graph shows different writing times between the drives, something that was expected since each device supports a different maximum recording speed

According to the above graph, at the 24X maximum writing speed for the LiteOn SDW431-S, the Freecom drive's time was about 2minutes faster, This is due to their different writing strategies.

- CD-RW Writing Tests

To test the writing speed and writing method of the drive we used a blank 74min CD-RW disc from TY and NeroCDSpeed to emulate the writing process.

Click for full graph

Below we provide a comparison of the three drives where we used Nero Burning Rom software to burn a 651MB data compilation onto 10X US-RW media from TY.

Both the LiteOn and Pioneer drives support 10X maximum re-writing speed and therefore their burning times were about equal. Freecom was faster with 24X maximum re-writing speed.

9. 3T Jitter Tests

LiteOn Slimtype SDW-431SX - Page 9

Writing Quality Tests - 3T Jitter Tests

The LiteOn Slimtype SDW-431S supports a maximum writing speed of 24x and uses P-CAV writing strategy for the writing tasks. We expect to see quality values, since the supported writing speed could be considered as a safe writing speed for all writers since most currently available CD and DVD writers, support much faster writing CD-R speeds up to 52x and 40x respectively.

- 3T Pit results

The LiteOn drive did not manage to meet our expectations. The quality measurements returned increased Pit values, especially at the end of each disc's surface. The worst results are with Maxell media, written at 24X which turned TimeOut errors at the 70min mark. Although all discs returned values over the 35ns RedBook limit, the values of all the media brands except for Maxell, can be considered as acceptable.

The average Pit Jitter of the four written media, are represented on the above graph. The average Pit Jitter with Maxell media exceeds the 35nd RedBook limit while TY media is on the border. According to the graph, the lowest values come from MAM media.

- 3T Land results

The Land results are slightly increased in comparison to those of the Pit values. The highest value, as with Pit values, comes with Maxell media while MMore had the lowest measurement.

On the above graph we summarized the average Land values of each written media. In comparison to average Pit values, the average Land values are slightly increased. Three of four written media had average values over the 35ns RedBook limit. According to the graph, the best results come from MMore at 34.37ns and MAM at 35.68ns.

Recording Speed
Average 3T Pit Jitter (ns)
Average 3T Land Jitter (ns)
> 35ns
Max 3T jitter values (ns)
MMore 52X
39 Pit, 40 Land
41 Pit, 43 Land
Maxell 52X
55 Pit, 54 Land
TY 48X
37 Pit, 42 Land

The above table summarize the maximum and average Pit/Land Jitter values for all written media. According to the table, all discs gave back values over the 35ns RedBook limit.

10. C1 / C2 Error Measurements

LiteOn Slimtype SDW-431SX - Page 10

Writing Quality Tests - C1 / C2 Error Measurements

The C1 / C2 error rate was measured for the recorded discs, burned during the previous writing tests (jitter). The software used was Plextools v2.11 and the reader was the Plextor Premium drive.

The quality measurements of the discs showed that the LiteOn drive can be safely used with some media for quality writing tasks at the maximum writing speed of 24X, while others gave back increased C1/C2 errors at the end of their surface. According to the measurements, TY and MMore can be used for quality writing.

11. DVD Recording Tests

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DVD Recording Tests

- Writing Performance

The LiteOn Slimtype SDW-431S, is a dual writer so it supports both minus and plus formats. The supported speeds are 4X for +R and 2.4X for +RW media. On the minus format the supported speeds are slower at 2X for both writable and rewritable media.

The LiteOn supports 4x maximum DVD+R writing. The screenshot from NeroCDSpeed shows that the writing process started at 2.4x but after only few sectors(100MB) the speed was increased to 4x and that speed was kept constant until the end of the process.

For the plus rewritable media the supported speed is 2.4x. The drive wrote the disc under CLV with average writing speed 2.47x.


The supported speed for both writable and rewritable minus media is 2X and the drive writes both disc under the same strategy.

- Burning Tests

The following graphs show the maximum writing speed of the three devices with all available DVD writable and rewritable media.

The LiteOn supports 4X for plus writable media and therefore needed about 14:50 minutes to finish the writing task with the +R disc, while with supported speed at 2.4X for the +RW format, the writing process finished after about 22:30minutes. With the minus format, the LiteOn and Pioneer external writers finished each task at almost the same time while Freecom was faster at 4X with writable discs. The LiteOn returned acceptable times with all four tested media.

Since the external LiteOn drive does not support the current fastest DVD writing speeds, it had problems with specific media certified for writing at 8X. Despite this, the LiteOn recognized and wrote most tested media at the appropriate supported speed.

12. KProbe PI/PO quality tests

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KProbe PI/PO quality results

The following screenshots show the PI/PO scans for various DVD-/+R and DVD-/+RW media, recorded with the LiteOn 8x Dual writer at the maximum permitted speed.

The software used for the measurements was KProbe v2.0.1, the ECC was set to 8 and the reading at 4x with reader the LiteOn LDW-811s. The specific methodology is very dependent on the drive used as a reader, while the reliability of the PI/PO provided output is also not technically confirmed. Hence, we cannot safely come up with conclusive results, although we do make a comparison of the drive behavior when using various DVD recordable/rewritable media.

The recordable discs we used came from TraxData, CMC, More, Maxell, MC and Ritek. Further details about each disc type are presented at the bottom of this page.

The PI/PO quality measurements for the +R written media are good. Kprobe reported acceptable PI errors and quite low PO errors. Also, during the CDSpeed read process with the +R written media, no read errors occurred. For the minus format. although the supported speed is only 2X, the quality measurements of all written media returned values over the acceptable level and slightly increased compared to the -R measurements. Notice also, that the MMore DVD-R media was the only writable media that gave had read errors during the read process. With the rewritable format, both +RW and -RW media had acceptable values and the media was fully readable.

13. Bitsetting Tests

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Bitsetting Tests

The LiteON IT Book Type Utility allows you to freely choose a DVD+RW or DVD+R disc to be written as DVD-Rom book type, the most recognizable format for DVD players.

The user is able to set the Booktype Setting to either the drive itself, in order to record all DVD+R/+RW media as a "DVD-ROM" or to already recorded DVD+RW discs. Note that the bitsetting of a recorded DVD+R cannot be changed. In the majority of cases, you will not need to change the book type of your DVD media, as most DVD players and DVD-ROM drives have no problem reading recordable DVD media. However, some players (especially older models) cannot recognize discs that are characterized as DVD+RW/-RW or DVD+R/-R book types. In these instances, this compatibility issue can be easily resolved by changing the book type of the DVD media being written to DVD-ROM.

We used the latest version of Book Type Utility v1.0.6 and a rewritable DVD+RW media.

When we launched Book Type Utility and the Query button was pressed, the disc was recognized as DVD+RW. By pressing the change button a new window popped up.

The SetBookType dialog box prompts us to select a new book type for the media and we chose DVD-ROM.

The Info dialog box informed us that the Set Book Type was OK!

Although the previous message reported that the process ended successfully, the disc was still recognized as DVD+RW and not DVD-ROM as expected.

The end user should also notice the above limitations:

14. Conclusion

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  • Slim and lightweight
  • Good CD / DVD error correction
  • Low Seek times
  • Can playback/rip audio protected discs
  • Accurate and fast DVD ripping
  • Fast DVD-Ripping
  • Backup protected Safedisc2 games
  • Support 99min discs
  • Low DAE speed
  • Slow DAE ripping speed
  • Increased CD writing times
  • Only 10X CD-RW writing speed
  • BookType change feature

The LiteOn Slimtype SDW-431S is the latest external DVD writer from the LiteOn company. The drive is an all in one device, supporting both plus and minus DVD formats while it can also be used as a CD writer. As a reader, it supports almost all known media except for the latest DVD+R DL format.

The drive is stylish and the retail package includes everything that the user needs for the installation. We setup the External LiteOn through the only available connection, USB, where it was easily recognized on a windows XP environment. The error correction capabilities of the LiteOn proved to be a strong feature of the drive. The EAC software awarded the drive with a very good overall score meaning that it can easily read old and scratched CD-R media without problems.

With the DVD reading tasks, the LiteOn used the CAV reading strategy for all single/dual layer tested DVD media. We need to mention that during the single layer DVD-ROM media reading tests, the drive unexpectedly alternated the reading speed, resulting in a lower overall average reading speed, but despite this, the overall performance of the drive was quite good. The external LiteOn also proved fast on the DVD Decrypter test (ripping process) with an end speed of 6.2X. We also checked the DVD error correction capabilities of the LiteOn SDW-431S, where the drive had no problems, finishing all tests successfully.

The LiteOn proved to have very good backup capabilities. The drive managed to backup most tested games and returned working backups, up to the tested SafeDisc version 2.90, while the Pioneer, when tested only managed up to v2.60.052. Along with its protected games backup capabilities, the Liteon also proved good for backing up Audio protected discs. The drive managed to backup all tested audio CD-ROMs, but proved slow on DAE ripping.

We tested the writing capabilities of the LiteOn with both DVD and CD-R media . For the CD family, the supported writing speed of the LiteOn is 24X, while for DVD, it is 4X for +R and 2X for -R.

During the CD writing tasks, the LiteOn was slow with all tested media at the maximum available speed of 24x. The drive uses P-CAV reading strategy with start speed at only 10X and therefore in order to write a full 80min data CD-R compilation, the device needed about 5:46min, whereas the accepted time is about 4:00 minutes. Moreover, the quality measurements with the written media returned increased C1/C2 errors.

And last but not least, we checked the DVD writing times and quality of the external LiteOn writer. The 4X supported speed for plus format is quite acceptable for an external device but the minus writing speed is restricted at 2X. The LiteOn had fast writing times and satisfactory PIPO measurements with all written/tested +R media and all discs were fully readable with the LiteOn drive. But the same didn't happen with the minus format. Although the writing speed, as we mentioned before is restricted to 2X, the PIPO values were increased, in comparison to plus format. During the reading test of the written media, one disc, MMore DVD-R, returned back a read error.

Finally we tested the BookType change option of the LiteOn, using the Book Type Utility available at LiteOn's website. Although the utility recognized the disc, the BookType option didn't work although it seems that LiteOn which supports the feature, will fix this with a future firmware release.

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