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

Thursday, May 09, 2002
Ricoh MP5125A DVD+RW

1. Introduction

Ricoh MP5125A IDE DVD+RW - Page 1


The DVD+RW consortium after the first shipment of DVD+RW drives, ships its second generation DVD recorders that support both DVD+R and DVD+RW format. Ricoh is the first manufacturer that ships DVD+R/RW recorders with the model MP5125A. We compare the new MP5125A and the previous MP5120A to see what has changed and how compatible is the DVD+R against the DVD-R.

DVD+R: Physical format

The main change of the MP5125A is the adoption of the DVD+R writing. For now very few companies ship DVD+R media and for our tests we only got 5 pieces of DVD+R media from Ricoh. In short, the DVD+R has exactly same specs as with the DVD-R as Verbatim states:

DVD Media Specifications
DVD-R Authoring
DVD-R for General Use
Laser Wavelenght
Numerical Aperture
Recording Layer
Modulation Amplitude
Data Track Form
Wobbled Groove + Land pre-pit
Phase modulated wobbled groove
Wobbled Groove + Land pre-pit
Phase modulated wobbled groove
Track Pitch
0.74micro meter
Tracking Method (reading)
Minimum Pit Length
0.40micro meter
Data Modulation
8/16, RLL(2,10)
Error Correction
Channel Bit Rate
Scanning Velocity
Copy Protection

As we can see the DVD+R format has almost the same specs as with DVD-R for General use. That means, that both DVD+R and DVD-R should have the same compatibility with DVD players and drives. Below is a graph that lists the major features of all DVD formats:

DVD+R at a glance:

- 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
- ‘Lossless linking’ anti-buffer underrun technology

The drive

The MP5125A supports 12x (CD) and 2.4x DVD+R/+RW writing, 10x re-writing, 32x (CD) and 8x (DVD-ROM/+R/+RW) reading. The drive also supports "JustLink" technology in order to avoid buffer underruns, for the CD format. Its writing speeds are: 2x, 4x, 8x, 12x (CLV) writing and 4x, 10x (CLV) re-writing.

The writing speed for DVD+R/+RW format is 2.4X CLV (X factor is now 1385Kb/s) which is equivalent to 20x for CD-RW drives. Although the media support both CAV and CLV writing modes, the drive incorporates the CLV recording. The differences are the same as in the CD writing, meaning that the overall writing speed with CLV will be quicker. However random access with CAV is quicker. Due to 'Lossless Linking' we don't have buffer underrun problems in DVD+R/+RW formats. The drive doesn't support Mt. Rainier in both CD/DVD formats. The next generation of DVD+RW recorders are supposed to support the DVD-MRW format (Mount Rainier at DVD format). Currently, the following writing formats are supported:

1) DVD+R/+RW: DVD-ROM, DVD-Video, Random Access Write
2) CD-R/RW: CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, CD Extra, CD-I, Mixed-ModeCD, VideoCD, PhotoCD, CD TEXT and Bootable CD.

The media

Almost all manufacturers that sell DVD+RW will also ship DVD+R media. The DVD+R media can be written at 1X-2.4X. The media support both CLV and CAV recording technologies. CAV can be used in high-speed random access applications and CLV can be used in real-time recording applications. In addition, the DVD+R/+RW format utilizes lossless linking technology to support multi-session writing, allowing users to write (and read) additional data and video segments without finalizing the sessions. This feature enhances playback compatibility, saves time, and gives users the flexibility to use low-cost, write-once DVD+R discs for backups and archiving, as well as enabling different users to add recording sessions to the same disc.

The "official" DVD disc sizes are confusing because they do not follow the conventions used for other digital media. In the DVD world, 1 Gigabyte is 1,000,000,000 (109) bytes, whereas in the computer world, 1 Gigabyte is 1,073,741,824 (230) bytes. Therefore a 4.7-GB computer hard disk contains more data than a 4.7-GB DVD. In other words you can only fit up to 4.38GB of data, as with DVD-R/-RW/+RW media.

As with the DVD+RW, there will be two types of DVD+R media: "For Data", which can be used with drives that support DVD+RW media and "For Video" for stand alone Video players/recorders and drives. Both types include CSS written information in order to be compatible with all standalone DVD players. The DVD+R prices are expected to be around $9.99 for the single-sided 4.7GB discs and DVD+RW media available for $14.99.

The package

The package supplied included: the drive itself and 5 pieces of DVD+R media. The retail package will include: the drive itself, a quick start instruction guide, 1 piece of Ricoh 74min CD-R media, 1 piece of Ricoh DVD+RW & DVD+R media, 1 piece of Ricoh 74min HS-RW blank, audio cables and mounting screws. The attached software programs would be: Nero v5.5x, InCD v3.2x, NeoDVD v2.6x for DVD Video authoring, WinProducer v2.00 for Video editing and WinDVD v3.0 for DVD playback. The expected price of the drive is around $450. The DVD+R media costs $10 and DVD+RW media 15$. The European package will include 2 years of warranty.

The front of the drive contains all the necessary logos to separate it from normal CD-RW drives. The "Ricoh", "JustLink", "High-Speed RW" and "DVD+RW/+R" logos printed on it among with the drives codename "MP5125A" makes the difference. There is also only one led, the eject button 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):


The Ricoh MP5125A was installed as Master in the secondary IDE BUS. The drive worked in UDMA-2 mode and after boot up, it identified itself as the "Ricoh DVD+RW MP5125". Under WinXP, DMA was activated automatically.

The drive was a 2002 model (not sure which month exactly), with an initial firmware revision of v1.00a. Ricoh send us later a newer firmware update of v1.13 that was used for all reading/writing tests. We used Nero v5.5.8.0, InCD v3.28 and CloneCD v4.0.0.0. beta 30 for the recording tests.

The latest build of Nero supports the "high compatibility" mode. This was included by the software companies to allow users creating DVDs that they can create them according to the DVD ROM standard. As you may know the minimum data on a pressed DVD is about 1Gb or 30 mm of data. In some DVD drives and players having less data may cause incompatibility issues. The feature allows the users to write the minimum amount of data and the actual user data should not be less than 1Gb or 30mm.

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