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Home > Hardware Reviews > Optical Storage > DVD Recorders Double Layer

Tuesday, June 08, 2004
LiteOn SOHW-832S

1. Retail Package/Installation

LiteON SOHW-832S Dual DVD±RW Recorder - Page 1

LiteOn, as a leading optical storage manufacturer, announced at the end of April, a new 8X DUAL burner, the "SOHW-832S". The main difference with the presently available SOHW-812S series was the adoption of Double Layer (DVD+R DL) recording.

Our main interest is to see how the new LiteON drive compared with the previous 812S series and most importantly, if and how DL writing works. Another important issue would be writing quality and the various subtests where the LiteOn 812S performed very well. So, let's get cracking!

- New Features

The most important new feature of the SOHW-832S is the ability to read/write Double Layer DVD+R media.

The Double Layer DVD+R system uses two thin embedded organic dye films for data storage separated by a spacer layer. Heating with a focused laser beam irreversibly modifies the physical and chemical structure of each layer such that the modified areas have different optical properties to those of their unmodified surroundings. This causes a variation in reflectivity as the disc rotates to provide a read-out signal as with commercially pressed read-only discs. Below is a picture showing the structure of a DVD+R DL media.

For more information about DVD+R DL technology, you can visit the DVD+RW Alliance website or Philips Research website.

The LiteOn SOHW-832S also supports:

  • SMART-BURN avoiding Buffer UnderRun Error, Automatically adjusting writing strategy & running OPC to provide the best burning quality
  • SMART-X function adjusts CD-DA / VCD / DVD data extraction to the fastest allowable speed according to both data request rate from host and disk quality
  • VAS® system reduce vibration and noise during recording and reading

In terms of writing/reading speeds, the drive supports 8X (Z-CLV) writing for both DVD±R and 4X (CLV) writing for DVD±RW formats, while it can read DVD-ROM (pressed) up to 12X (CAV). The drive offers 40X (P-CAV) / 24X (Z-CLV) / 40X (CAV) specs for the CD formats.

The drive's model name, SOHW-832S, is coded according to the SONY Alliance Models ODD Naming Rule:

  • S: SONY
  • O: Optical
  • H: Half-Height Optical Loader
  • W: DVDRW ODD Type
  • 8: Maing DVD writing speed
  • 3:
  • 2: Second generation
  • S: Sanyo Pickup Supplier

- Specifications

E-IDE/ATAPI (Ultra DMA Mode 2)
Writing Speed:

DVD+R: 8X / -R: 8X, DVD+RW: 4X, DVD-RW: 4X

CD-R: 40X, CD-RW: 24X
Read Speed:

DVD+R/-R/+RW/-RW: 8X

DVD-ROM: 12X, CD-R/RW: 40X
Random Access:
DVD: 160msec, CD: 160msec
Buffer Size:
Supported Disc Formats:
DVD: 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-R/RW: 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
Supported Writing Types:

DVD±RW: Disc-at-once, Incremental recording, Multi-border recording, Restricted overwriting

  CD-R/RW: Variable Packet, TAO, SAO, DAO, Raw Mode Burning & Over-Burn

The specs don't indicate whether the drive supports Mount Rainier for either of CD or DVD formats, but we will check this later. The drive also uses the RPC II region control, allowing a user to change the drive's region at most 5 times, which however can easily be bypassed with various utilities.

Below are the drive's main specs as given by NeroInfoTool and DVDInfoPro:

Lastly, let's see what additional information KProbe software returns for LiteON based drives:

- European Retail package

The European retail package includes the LiteOn SOHW-832S, a quick install guide, mounting screws and a sound cable. While the retail box doesn't mention it, it supports 1-year warranty for Europe, Middle-East and Africa. Included software is Nero v6 OEM version and CyberLink PowerDVD v5.0 retail version. The total cost is expected to be around €135.00.

The package also contains one LiteON 8X brand DVD+R media (RICOH, ID Code: RICOHJPNR02) and a LiteOn 4X brand DVD-R (CMC Magnetics, IDCode CMC MAG. AF1) .

Our retail package included a DVD+R DL (from Mitsubishi Chemicals) media, but we suspect that this won't be included with most retail packages that users buy...

Now let's take a look at the drive itself.

The SOHW-832S looks more or less the same as the previous 812S series and it has all the appropriate logos indicating the supported formats. The busy indicator lights up green when the device is active, orange when reading / accessing a disc and red when burning. On the front, the user will distinguish the DVD+R DL logo!

On the rear panel you can see the analogue and digital outputs (SPDIF), the IDE connector and the power input. Our drive was manufactured during May 2004 in Taiwan.

Something that should be noted is that the drive is much shorter than the usual CD/DVD recorder, making its mount an easy task even for PCs with small cases. Below you can see a picture of the drive with noticeably smaller dimensions compared with the Plextor Premium drive.

Removing the screws and opening the drive's cover voids the drive's warranty. For reference reasons, we post the following pictures. You can click on the mainboard picture for a higher resolution image:

Click To Enlarge!

The LiteOn SOHW-832S further incorporates (located on the underside of the controller circuit board), a high-speed DVD dual Optical Disk Controller chipset from MediaTek Inc. consisting of two CMOS ultra-scale integrated circuits, the MT1816E and MT1818E. The MT1816E is the front-end analog signal processor and the MT1818E is the servo control and Endec IC. The pickup system is the Sanyo SF-DB 10SA. Note that the LiteOn SOHW-812S used the exact same board design (with slight differences in memory brand used but at the same memory timings)!

- Installation

The drive was installed as secondary master and under WindowsXP recognized as a "LITE-ON DVDR SOHW-832S". The drive arrived with firmware vVS01 and till today there hasn't been a newer firmware release. Below is a picture from Nero Burning Rom, showing the drive's specs.

After all tests had finished, LiteON released a newer firmware, VS03 with the update description "match more media".

Nothing really changed in the drive's properties, except the firmware revision. Notice that the drive is already one month old, and for beta testers there is already available a newer revision, VS05, which according to Lite-On, greatly improves writing quality:

We will compare the drive with its older brother, the SOHW-812S, and the Plextor PX-708A, since all three drives have exactly the same DVD/CD recording specs.

- Testing software

In order to perform our tests we used:

  1. Nero CD-DVD Speed v3.00
  2. CDVD Benchmark v1.21
  3. ExactAudioCopy v0.9 beta5
  4. Nero Info Tool v2.21
  5. KProbe v2.1.0 (Reader: LiteOn LDW-811S firmware vHS0Q, Reading speed 8X CAV)
  6. PlexTools v2.13 (Reader: Plextor PX-712A firmware v1.01, Reading speed 8X CLV for CD-R)
  7. DVDInfoPro v2.54
  8. LiteOn Booktype Utility v1.0.6
  9. Nero Burning Rom v6.3.1.10

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