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Home > Essays > Optical Storage

Monday, July 14, 2003
DVD Media Format Compatibility Tests

4. Parameters Of The Tests

The "parameters" of the tests

Since we have decided to check all this media formats compatibility tests by ourselves, in the following we describe how we chose the major parameters of the tests. These certainly include the hardware used for recording, the players for reading the discs, and, of course, the discs themselves, which after all are those about which all this conversation is taking place.

Players

We used 27 stand alone DVD players (of which 2 were also used as recorders) and 20 DVD-ROM PC readers (of which 3 were also used as recorders). Among those 20 DVD-ROM readers, there were also a few recorders, which were used solely as readers in our tests. These where all those drives available to us through the European market and we have been gathering them for over a year now. All the drives used were absolutely new, except some DVD-ROM's we had previously tested for presenting reviews in our web site. Even the latter had been kept out of use until the time of testing and were thus almost-new.

In the following 2 tables the reader can see the exact manufacturer and model used for doing our tests. The first table contains the stand-alone units, the second the PC DVD drives.

Stand alone DVD players.

Some of them are also able to record and 3 of them were used as recorders as well. (See relevant table below.)

Standalone Players
TOSHIBA SD-125E
LG DVD5253
PANASONIC DVD-RA 82
PANASONIC DVD-XV10
PHILIPS DVD 723
PHILIPS DVD 890
PHILIPS DVD-640
PIONEER DV-550
PIONEER DVD 7000
SAMSUNG DVD-S224
SONY DVP-F25
AIWA XD-DV370
FirstLine FLAVIO
KENWOOD DVF-3530
LG DVD 4710
PANASONIC DVD-RV32
PHILIPS DVD 733
PIONEER DV-343
PIONEER DV-656A
SAMSUNG DVD-127
SONY DVP-NS305
SONY DVP-NS705V
SONY DVP-PQ1
THOMSON DTH210
TOSHIBA SD-214E
TOSHIBA SD-220E
YAMAHA DVD-S520

PC DVD-ROM Players
PC DVD-ROM Players
AOPEN DVD1648
AOPEN RW125A
BTC BDV 316B
LITEON LTD-163
LITEON XJ-HD165H
MITSUMI DW7801
PHILIPS RW 228
PIONEER DCR-111
PIONEER DVD -105S2
PIONEER DVD -106S2
PIONEER DVD -A05
PIONEER DVD 500M
PIONEER DVD-U05S
PLEXTOR PX-320A
RICOH MP 5125
SONY DRX-500U1
TEAC DV-516E
TOSHIBA SD-R1202
WAILE SFINX 16
WAITEC XFILE

In all cases the most recent firmwares were downloaded or otherwise acquired. Each drive tested had the latest firmware and thus the best performance in terms of writing/reading quality and compatibility with respect to the latest discs on the market.

The recorders

We used as recorders 2 stand alone units and 3 PC drives. In each case we recorded at the maximum speed all types of supported media. In one case (Sony) we recorded media of both formats, since this was supported.

Recorders
Pioneer A05
Pioneer DVR7000
Philips DVDR890
HP dvd 300i
Sony DRX-500UL

Our choice here was based on arguments explained in the previous section. We had to include certainly the major drives from both camp "leaders". Since Ricoh 4x +R/RW recorder was not available when we designed the roadmap of our tests and as its 4x +R media were very scare at that time, we did not include Ricoh drives or media in our tests. We did not include a 4x Philips recorder either, because there is currently no such drive available in the market.

Having said this, we must point out that all major component manufacturers were represented in our tests. The NEC recorder is the same as the HP drive we used in our tests. Based on all those things we have learned over the time by performing exhaustive hardware tests, there is very little difference between drives based on the same hardware components. From this point of view adding or removing drives from the particular list we chose, would have only a marginal impact on the outcome of our tests. (Although would have probably lengthen unacceptably the required time to conduct them!)

The Media

Having selected the recording units as explained previously, we had to choose the respective media according to similar arguments. One media manufacturer had to be the one suggested by the unit manufacturer itself. We thus chose the types of media that are usually being shipped along with the units. In the case of -R/RW recorders, these were the Pioneer discs. In the case, however, of Philips, as 4x +R/ 2.4x +RW media were generally unavailable to us, we chose Verbatim discs which is, nonetheless, the OEM.

We also came under the requirement of a finite amount of time that we could spend on doing the tests. Obviously, we had to use the same exactly persons for doing all the tests. They had to be among our "crew" and be skilful enough to catch quickly and easily each drive's idiosyncrasies and write down clearly the outcome of each test. Each additional media manufacturer would add (27 + 20) x 6 = 282 more tests to be carried out. Having to choose among the perfect and feasible we decided to include only one additional disc manufacturer. It should be one with the greatest market share and among those offering discs of both types and at the maximum recorded speeds.

In both cases the media we chose as a third option was Maxell. A close alternative was to use TDK. But after gathering whatever TDK disc we were able to find in the European market, we soon came at a dead end: We could not find any 4x +R media! (Having done some more informal tests since our original deadline, we can assure our readers that there would be hardly a difference even if we were lucky enough to get the full arsenal of TDK discs.)

Summing up we used:

Media
Pioneer DVD-R 4x
Pioneer DVD-RW 2x
Maxell DVD-R 4x
Maxell DVD-RW 2x
Verbatim DVD+R 4x
Verbatim DVD+RW 2.4x
Maxell DVD+R 4x
Maxell DVD+RW 2.4x

In the case of dual format capable recorders (Sony DRX-500UL) we used, of course, all 8 combinations of the chosen discs.

 

 

The speed

We burned all discs in the maximum available speed by each drive. This was done for the following reasons. Each particular drive is factory calibrated to record best at this speed. This is a major factor, as we want to test what is in general the best offer by both camps under the rationale that we should try to minimize the number of reasons causing incompatibilities with older players. Had we chose otherwise, we would both face a much larger number of tests and the possibility of testing something that most of our readers would never use in practice.




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