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

Monday, February 18, 2002
Philips DVDRW208 DVD+RW

1. Introduction

Philips DVD+RW 208 - Page 1

- Introduction
The end of 2001 is the time frame for the first batch of DVD+RW recorders. After having already testing Ricoh MP5120A, a second manufacturer, Philips, ships a similar DVD+RW proposal for the user who wishes both CD-R and DVD+RW recording capabilities. Both drives have similar features and you might expected that raw performance would be the same. Does Philips proposal has anything newer than Ricoh's MP5120A or all first DVD+RW recorders share the same level of performance? Lets find out...

- DVD+RW: Physical format

We have already covered the DVD+RW format in our Ricoh MP5120A review, but we will sum it up for new visitors. DVD+RW in short offers:

- Single-sided (4.7 GB) and double-sided (9.4GB) discs option
- Uses a bare disc - no cartridge required
- 650 nm laser (numerical aperture 0.65)
- Constant linear data density
- CLV and CAV recording
- Write speeds from 1x to 2.4x DVD-Video data rates
- Defect management handled by the drive
- Quick formatting
- Recording: (Sequential and random recording, 32 kB ECC blocks, Lossless linking) -

- The drive

The Philips DVD+RW208 supports 12x (CD) and 2.4x DVD+RW writing, 10x re-writing, 32x (CD) and 8x (DVD-ROM/+RW) reading. The drive also supports "SeamLess Link" in order to avoid buffer underruns for CD format and 'Thermo Balanced Writing' technology for optimum writing quality. Its writing speeds are: 2x, 4x, 8x, 12x (CLV) writing and 2x, 4x and 10x (CLV) re-writing.

The writing speed for DVD+RW format is 2.4X CLV (X factor is now 1385Kb/s) which is equivalent to the 20x CD-RW drives. The drive doesn't support CAV writing technology. Among with the attached 2MB of buffer, the drive includes buffer underrun protection for DVD+RW format with the name 'Loss less linking'. The drive doesn't support writing to DVD-R, DVD-RW and of course to DVD-RAM media.

- The package

The supplied package included only the bare drive among with a DVD+RW media and the necessary 'CDR Software'.

The European retail box will include: The drive itself, a quick start instruction guide, 1 piece of Philips 74min CD-R media, 1 piece of Philips DVD+RW media, audio cables and mounting screws. The attached software programs would be: Nero, InCD v3.12, Sonic MyDVD v3.0 Build 29143R and PowerDVD v3.0 Build 1102. The Entry prices for Philips DVD+RW are expected to be around $790-870 around Europe. Philips offers a 2 year warranty for all new models including the DVDRW208.

The front of the drive is something that we first meet in a drive. It contains the "DVD+RW", "Philips", "High-Speed RW" logos and of course the drive codename "DVD+RW200 Series". You will notice the 2 led, one for each format that lights up using a special "intense blue" LED, as also found in the Yamaha CRW3200E series. When the drive is reading in either of both formats the main led is in the blue state:

Drive is reading from DVD

Drive is reading from CD

Drive is writing to CD

Drive is writing to DVD+RW

When the drive records in either CD/DVD formats the main led lights up "red" giving the necessary information about the drive status. Lastly, you will find the eject button (again back lighted) and the headphone input jack/volume selector:

On the back of the drive there are the usual connectors (IDE interface, power), the jumpers for setting the drive as Master/Slave/Cable Select, the SPDIF output connector and 3 jumpers which are not used (factory reserved):

- Installation

The Philips DVD+RW208 was installed as SLAVE in the secondary IDE BUS. Philips suggested this connection mode for maximum compatibility. Even if the drive worked fine, we noticed that PC needs extra time to detect the drive during the boot process. Sometimes also the drive was not properly recognized and we had to shut down and re-power up the PC.

The drive worked in UDMA-2 mode and after boot up, it identified itself as the "Philips DVDRW1208". We unchecked the Auto Insert notification, checked DMA and rebooted.

The drive was an October 2001 model with an initial firmware revision of v1.30. The drive is RPC2, which means that you can change its DVD region only 4 times. The DVD Region Info software gives the needed RPC2 confirmation (check right picture). We have no information if any region free firmware will be available, from third parties in the near future :-)

- Test Machine

WinMe/XP OSs
Soyo 7VCA
Celeron II 566 over clocked to 850 MHz
128MB SDRAM PC 133
Quantum Fireball EX 6.4 GB UDMA 33
DAWI 2975 - PCI (ULTRA) SCSI Host Adapter
Ricoh MP5120 firmware v1.30
Pioneer DVR-A03 firmware v1.65
Panasonic LF-D311 firmware A113
Philips DVDRW208 firmware v1.30

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