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Home > Hardware Reviews > Optical Storage > DVD Recorders 1-4x

Monday, February 18, 2002
Panasonic LF-D311 DVD-R

1. Introduction

Panasonic LF-D311 IDE DVD-RAM/R - Page 1


Panasonic announced in the 24th of April 2001 a new combo drive that supports both "DVD-RAM" and "DVD-R" recording technologies. In addition to reading and writing to both DVD-RAM (rewritable) and DVD-R (write-once) discs, the multifunction drive provides all of the functionality of the DVD Forum specifications for DVD-RAM and DVD-R General, including maximum compatibility with DVD video players, recorders and DVD-ROM drives. Panasonic's new DVD-RAM/R solution is scheduled to begin shipping to OEM customers and channel partners in the second quarter of 2001 and will have a price under 500$.

- Used Technologies

Panasonic achieved the media interchangeability by developing an integrated lens/dual-laser opto-mechanical assembly. The optical pick-up is composed of high-power red lasers and optic detectors in the same unit. This allows compatibility with optical discs of varying substrate thickness such as DVDs (0.6mm) and various types of CDs (1.2mm). The drive uses one len and the 780nm laser to read all compact discs and the 650nm laser to read and write DVD-RAM and DVD-R general discs. Unlike to the DVD-R for professional authoring, which uses a laser with a wavelength of 635nm, the Panasonic DVD-R for general applications uses a 650nm light source, making it physically compatible with DVD-RAM technology which also uses a 650nm laser diode.

Is there such market for DVD-RAM/R drives?

Panasonic feels that there is such a market. DVD-RAM is already established mostly among professionals which are occupied with video editing and the addition of DVD-R format will allow users to be benefited from the total compatibility of the format:

"...The drive is compatible with every leading video authoring packages that will enable consumers and businesses to download video and stills from digital cameras and camcorders to their desktops, edit them, and enhance them with audio. A business that will be adding products to a training film or a home user that wants to compile a full season of their child's sports events will store their video on DVD-RAM. By saving the videos to DVD-RAM media, users can continue to add and delete videos or edit existing videos.  A business can add and remove products from a marketing video, update a kiosk video, or improve instructions on a training video.  Home users can add to videos and photo albums on discs designated for special memories, vacations or individual family members.  

For small-scale distribution, relatively small quantities (2-50 copies) of  DVD-R general copies can be quickly, easily and economically produced in real time and played back by most of the DVD-ROM drives and video players in use today. No matter how many copies are produced, each will be as clean and crisp as the original ? even if a copy of a copy.  If the video requires broad distribution, a master can be cut and sent to a service bureau for DVD-ROM production.

Many of the same capabilities that make the DVD-RAM/R drive so appealing for AV applications provide key benefits to other applications such as computer-aided engineering and graphic design, pre-press, and document imaging, as well as Web server storage and site downloading. Panasonic's new DVD-RAM/R drive is designed to move easily from AV to the computer, to TV and the Web. It is what mainstream users have wanted in DVD all along..."

- Product specifications

With the ability to write to and read from general-purpose 4.7GB DVD-R discs and 4.7GB/9.4GB DVD-RAM discs, the multifunction drive provides the familiarity of CD-R/RW. Other features are the ability to play back DVD video, DVD-ROM and DVD-R discs, and the 24x CD reading performance. Using the 4.7GB DVD-R General media, the Panasonic DVD-RAM/R drive provides a transfer rate up to 11.08 Mbps, which is equivalent to about 9 times the transfer rate of a CD-ROM's 1X speed. The 22.16 Mbps transfer rate for 4.7GB DVD-RAM is translated to a 18x CD data rate. Seek times are 75ms for DVD-RAM and 65ms DVD-R, DVD-ROM and CD media.

Specifications of LF-D311
4.7/9.4GB DVD-RAM (rewritable)
2.6/5.2GB DVD-RAM (rewritable)
4.7GB DVD-R General Use (write-once)
Data Transfer Rate (IF Interface):
Ultra DMA Mode 2: max. 33.3MB/s
PIO Mode 4: max. 16.6MB/s
Write Data Transfer Rate:
4.7GB DVD-RAM 1385KB with verifying
2.6GB DVD-RAM 690KB with verifying
4.7GB DVD-R 1385KB without verifying
Read Transfer Rate:
DVD-RAM (4.7GB) : 2770KBps (2x)
DVD-RAM (2.6GB) : 1385KBps (1x)
DVD-ROM: 8310KBps (6x)
CD-ROM/CD-R: 3600KBps (24x)
CD-RW: 1800KBps (12x)
Average Seek Time:
DVD-RAM 75ms
Write Compatibility:
4.7GB DVD-R (General)
Read Compatibility:
CD-DA, CD-ROM/XA, Photo CD, Video CD,
CD-Extra CD-R, CD-RW at max. 24x
DVD-ROM, DVD-R at max. 6x
DVD-RAM (4.7GB at 2x , 2.6GB at 1x)
Buffer Capacity:
Power Supply:
12V/5V, 5%
Dimensions (W H D):
146 41.3 196 mm
5.75" 1.63" 7.72"
1.1 kg (2.4 lbs.)

Initially, the drive will be supplied with an ATAPI interface for OEMs and third-party subsystem suppliers. Several third-party firms already offer Panasonic Combination drives with SCSI2, USB and IEEE-1394/FireWire connectivity. Panasonic and other firms have already developed Windows Me, Windows 9X, Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Macintosh OS 8.4 and above, Linux and UNIX support. Other drivers are under development.

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