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Appeared on: Sunday, May 11, 2003
Panasonic LF-D521 DVD-RAM

1. Introduction

Panasonic LF-D521 IDE DVD-RAM - Page 1

- Introduction

Panasonic is making a concerted effort to see DVD-RAM take off more widely outside of Japan, where it has enjoyed huge success. DVD-RAM is one of the formats, alongside DVD-R and DVD-RW, that is being officially supported by the 219-member strong DVD Forum.

The latest Panasonic drive is the DVD Burner II, a combination of a DVD/CD drive that supports DVD-RAM and DVD-R/RW recording, reading of all the DVD formats along with CD-R/RW reading and writing.

- DVD-RAM Features

The RAM part of the DVD-RAM name stands for Random Access Memory, which means that the drive works in a similar way to a hard drive: content can be placed anywhere on the disc and is indexed. This means that video editors can cut, splice and edit video straight to DVD-RAM without having to worry about how the data is being laid down. This certainly allows a more flexible way of working with data than other formats.

A main advantage of the DVD-RAM format is the high reliability it offers. In simple words, DVD-RAM detects off-tracking caused by defect during the recording phase, and reduces laser power in order to avoid pre-recorded data destruction. Subsequently, the data writing is going on after the affected addresses have been read and reallocated.

The defect management feature monitors the zones on the disc while writing and when a defect zone is found, the DVD-RAM automatically replaces the sector and completes writing. In addition, data verification and sector management is carried out during the data writing process.

In the following lines we give some more technical information about the DVD-RAM format.

The doubling of the data transfer rate (2X, 22.16 Mbps) enables DVD-RAM to focus on AV recording capability. The track structure common to DVD-RAM is showed in the picture below:

The land track and wobbled groove track are allocated like a single-spiral track to achieve the seamless recording and playback. A DVD-RAM disc has a Zoned Constant Linear Velocity (ZCLV) format to maintain a higher constant data transfer rate over the whole disc surface by changing its rotation speed, zone by zone. The land and groove track structure enables the use of a stable tracking system, essential for achieving an affordable and highly reliable DVD Video Recorder and DVD-RAM drive.

Data is recorded consecutively on the land and groove tracks by units of 16 physical sectors (32 KB). The error correction code (ECC) system is the same as that of the DVD-ROM format. The data encoded by the ECC system is scrambled and is modulated by the same 8-16 RLL modulation code as in the DVD-ROM case. A channel bit is converted to a multiple-pulse signal.

In the case of DVD-RAM, real-time AV recording can be done by reading and writing AV signals in a seamless manner, along with the defect management system suitable both for real-time recording and reliable data storage. Recording of 2X-speed is one of the most important features of the latest DVD-RAM 4.7 GBytes, which ensures successful real-time AV recording. In addition, a flexible defect management method featured both for real-time AV recording and computer usage has been implemented. The fixed spare area of 26 MB (being used for storing the data of other disc parts that have gone defective) is reserved as a Primary Spare Area (PSA) for AV recording.

DVD-RAM disc provides the same capacity as the nominal capacity of DVD-ROM. In the case of defects in a bare disc, a Secondary Spare Area (SSA) can be assigned, up to 200 MB. Thanks to this defect management system, a defect-free DVDRAM disc for professional applications can be assured virtually every time.

One of the most interesting features of DVD-RAM is data reliability and security measures such as rewriting without data-loss, high overwriting cycle, built-in defect management, and a secure copy protection scheme. In addition, random accessibility, ending operation free, and 2X-speed recording are also notable. DVD-RAM provides conceivable copy protection features such as Media-type Identification, Content Scrambling System (CSS) Key suppression, Media Unique ID, and Media Key Block (MKB). These features enable to implement a Copy Protection for Recordable Media (CPRM) 5 scheme for the data encryption, which makes DVDRAM disc a secure digital medium.

A Burst-Cutting Area (BCA) signal can be burned in the innermost area of a DVD-RAM disc as Media Unique ID. BCA can number each DVD-RAM disc with a Media Unique serial number for local encryption. The data format of DVD-RAM is different from that of DVD-ROM. It has a Header called Complementary Allocated Pit Address (CAPA), a wobbling, and a land and groove track. Even if the control data, including CSS key information, is shift-recorded in a next data recording area, any drive or player could not read it normally and the shift-recording can be detected by checking the Header or the wobbling. It can be concluded that a DVD-RAM disc requires a smaller effort for read compatibility, and is a reliable, secure, and random access recorder system.

- Specifications

Panasonic DVD Burner II supports DVD-R and 4.7GB DVD-RAM writing at 2x CLV. Writing on 2.6GB DVD-RAM media can be achieved at 1x. For the DVD-RW format, the supported writing speed is the 1x CLV. The maximum reading speed for DVD-ROM and DVD Video is 12x CAV for single layer and 6x CAV for dual layer discs. Last, DVD-R/RW media are read at 6x CAV.

As for the CD-R media, you can select among the 4x, 8x and 12x CLV writing speeds, and 4x, 8x CLV writing for CD-RW format. The CD-ROM/-R/-RW reading speed is 32x CAV.

The drive is equipped with a 2MB of buffer, and special technology protects the DVD’s and CD’s against “buffer underrun errors” during the writing process. At the same time the temperature of the medium is measured in order to adapt the laser intensity accordingly and to ensure an optimal recording result.

The supported RPCII region control allows the user to change the region code 5 times.

The supported disc formats are: 4.7GB / 2.6GB DVD-RAM, DVD-ROM (single layer/dual layer), DVD-R (For General v2,0), DVD-RW (Ver 1.0 & 1.1), CD-ROM Mode 1, CD-ROM XA Mode 2, Photo CD, CD-DA, CD-Extra, CD-R.

- The package

The retail package includes one 4.7GB DVD-R disc, one 4.7GB DVD-RAM disc, an instruction manual and a driver and application software disc.

This includes the “DVD Movie Album SE 3” software that offers increased recording and editing functionality for DVD RAM’s and videos from DV cameras as well as videos from DVD RAM video recorders. It generates three-dimensional titles with animation and prepares slide shows from still frame photos. Additional functions such as editing playback sequences (play lists) or indexing selected scenes (marker function) are also included.

The “MyDVD™ 3.5” works in co-operation with the ”DVD Movie Album SE 3”, and thus simplifies the preparation of video DVD’s thanks to well-arranged user guidance. Authoring video DVD’s/CD’s from AVI data in DV format or from DV cameras is very easy.

“WinDVD™ 4” is also attached, allowing playback of all DVD and CD formats. The basic CD/DVD recording software is the “B’s Recorder GOLD5 BASIC”.

The “FileSafe” application is included for data back-up purposes. An automatic back-up of defined files in optionally selectable time intervals is available to the user.

In addition, the package includes the usual internal audio cable, mounting screws, and a forced eject pin.

On the disc loading tray you can see "DVD Multi" and the "HSRW" logos. The eject button is placed below the tray, on the right side of the front panel, as usual. The indication LED is active when a disc is loaded or the drive performs a read/write task.

On the rear panel there exist the usual connectors, such as the power input, the ATAPI interface, the device configuration jumper, and the analog audio output.

After removing the screws on the bottom we can see the drive's internal design. Panasonic uses its own chipsets as the following picture shows.

- Installation

Panasonic LF-D521 was identified as "MATSHITA LF-D521" under WinXP. The drive was installed to the secondary IDE channel of our test PC as a "Master". The January 2003 model came with firmware version vA111 installed, which was used for all the tests.

In order to have a better idea of the performance of the drive, we include the results of a different drive in the basic result charts, the Pioneer DVR-A05.

2. Attached Software

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The Attached Software

As we have mentioned in the previous page, the software package bulked in the retail package of the Panasonic LF-D521 includes DVD-RAM drivers for the latest Windows operating systems, and some other very useful utilities for performing several tasks. The installation of the driver pack is essential in order to make full use of the DVD-RAM drive's features.

DVD-RAM drivers allow reading and writing to formatted discs under the Windows 9X/NT/2k/XP environment.

After installing the driver pack, Windows will recognize the LF-D521 as a removable drive and you will be able to start backup your important data with simple drag&drop moves.

- Format software (DVDForm)

You must logically format a DVD-RAM disc before writing files on the disc. Once you have logically formatted a DVD-RAM disc, it can be used to write files just as you would do with a floppy disk or hard disk.

Such a disc can be formatted using either UDF (Universal Disk Format) or FAT32 file format. The DVDForm utility allows formatting of DVD-RAM discs. A user should choose the format appropriate to his own needs. Please note that you must format 2.8 GB (8 cm) / 5.2 GB / 9.4 GB double-sided DVD-RAM discs one side at a time.

- UDF (Universal Disk Format): UDF has been recently finalized for the DVD family products. This new format is optimized for big capacity files, such as Video and Audio capture and playback, being able to keep constant, high transfer rates.

You ca select the UDF 1.5 or the UDF 2.0 formatting modes. Select “Universal Disk Format (UDF 2.0)” when you are going to use the DVD-RAM disc to write audio-visual data. Select this format only if the disc is to be played in a DVD Recorder that uses the DVD Forum's video recording standard or with the recording software designed for personal computers that is based on the above standard, or if an 8-cm DVD-RAM is to be used in a DVD video camera.

The UDF 1.5 format is appropriate when you are going to use the DVD-RAM disc to write PC data. This format allows the transfer of the data between different operation systems, such as between Windows and Mac OS*1.

- FAT Format: FAT32 is the Windows OS embedded file system and used for hard disk drives.

- WPTool

The WPTool enables you to take full advantage of the characteristics of non-cartridge DVD-RAM discs. You can perform various tasks such as:

(1) Dust check of DVD-RAM discs!

(2) Write-protect setting/release of DVD-RAM discs


After installing the drivers pack, the DVDTool operations are also accessible by right-clicking on the DVD-RAM drive in the "My Computer" window of your PC.

3. Data CD Tests

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Data CD Tests

- Pressed CD results (74min and 80min CD Speed Graphs)

Panasonic LF-D521 supports 32x CAV CD reading speed. In our test, the drive reached the 36.73x by the end of the disc, resulting to an increased average speed of 27.72x. The Pioneer DVR-A05 performed as it was expected and gave an average speed of 24.84x.

According to the specifications of the Panasonic drive, the average seek time is around 120msec. The drive performed well in all the seek modes. The Pioneer A05 is slower in the 1/3 and full seek tests.

- CDR Media results (74min and 80min CD Speed Graphs)

The Panasonic drive was again faster than expected with CD-R media. The average reading time is 27.8x, while the DVR-A05 improved the average reading over the previous test speed by 1x.

In the seek test, the results were not different than in the pressed CD test.

- HS-RW media (Click to see the CD Speed Graphs)

For the RW tests we used the Plextor HS-RW media. The LF-D521 started reading at 12.16x and finished at 27.74x, resulting to 20.97x average speed. The drive supports 28x CAV reading with RW discs. The Pioneer drive is faster with an average of 25.5x.

4. CD Error Correction Tests

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CD Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we examined the error correction capabilities of the Panasonic LF-D521, when reading an artificially damaged CD-R. For the test we used the Almedio ABEX pressed discs, and the EAC test disc.

- EAC CD-R Test Disc

The EAC test disc is always hard to read for all the drives we have tested. The Panasonic LF-D521 reported many errors and some of them were muted. The number of skipped samples was also high resulting to an overall score of 52.5 points out of 100.
Errors total
Num: 115300391
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 582453
Avg: -29.0 dB(A)
Max: -7.2 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 76691
Avg: 1.4 Samples
Max: 3584
Skips Samples
Num: 355
Avg: 44.0 Samples
Max: 2934 Samples
C2 accuracy
Total Test Result
52.5 points (of 100.0 maximum)

The C2 accuracy reported is only 50%. We cannot come up with safe conclusions by this test only, but the first impression is that the Panasonic LF-D521 cannot retrieve C2 error information accurately.


Errors total
Num: 1075712
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 57542
Avg: -74.3 dB(A)
Max: -14.3 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 3516
Avg: 1.1 Samples
Max: 95 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 1
Avg: 6.0 Samples
Max: 6 Samples
C2 accuracy
99.7 %
Total Test Result
72.9 points (of 100.0 maximum)

The score for the Panasonic drive is 72.9, still an average performance. The total errors were less than in the previous test, as it was expected. The average level of the Loudness errors is -74.3dB(A).

This time the C2 accuracy reported is high. The ABEX 721R is a pressed test disc and easy to read, compared to the EAC disc in the previous test.

- ABEX TCD-726

The total amount of errors is smaller in the case of the TCD-726 disc. The scratches on the disc is not as heavy as in the TCD-721, and the rest defects and fingerprints seem not to produce many errors while reading. The Loudness errors were 202 and the average level was -19.6dB(A), which is an acceptable level. Although only 8 samples were muted, their average length was high. The score for this test is the best we had for the Panasonic drive. (81.5 points).

Errors total
Num: 43819
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 202
Avg: -19.6 dB(A)
Max: -10.6 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 8
Avg: 3275.4 Samples
Max: 3584 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0.0 Samples
Max: 0 Samples
C2 accuracy
50.0 %
Total Test Result
81.5 points (of 100.0 maximum)

- Conclusion

Test Disc
Reading Speed
Average Score

Test Disc
C2 Accuracy

The Panasonic LF-D521 gets an average score of 68.9 points out of 100 at our CD error correction tests.

On the other hand, the C2 accuracy seems to be low in most cases.

CDSpeed Advanced DAE quality test
- ABEX 721R

According to the Nero test, the quality score for Panasonic LF-D521 is only 42.3 points, while the C2 accuracy is rather low (73.43%). The main reason for this result is the increased amount of compare errors, and the 1562 sync errors that were reported.

5. DVD reading tests

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DVD reading tests

- Test Method

We used Nero CDSpeed to run DVD tests. All tests were performed at least 3 times with the same DVD title (we show the average results). The tests discs were one single sided, single layer DVD-ROM, one single sided, dual layer DVD-ROM, and one disc representing each one of the DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW and DVD-RAM formats.

- Single Layer DVD-ROM reading: (Click for DVDSpeed results )

Panasonic LF-D521 supports a 12x CAV maximum reading speed for the DVD format. The drive started reading at 5.04x and finished at 12.11x. The average reading speed is 9.05x. The Pioneer drive was slightly faster in the same test.

The specifications of Panasonic LF-D521 give the drive a 110msec average seek time for the case of the DVD-ROM format. In our tests the drive was very fast in all the seek modes. The Pioneer A05 is slower, especially in the Full stroke test.

- Dual Layer DVD-ROM reading: (Click for DVDSpeed results)

The drive supports 6x CAV reading speed for the dual layer DVD-ROM discs. The average reading speed for each layer is 4.5x. The Pioneer uses the same reading speed as the single-layer DVD-ROM media (8x CAV).

The drive gave good seek times with dual layer media. Compared to the Pioneer DVR-A05, the Panasonic drive is faster in the Random and Full stroke tests.

- DVD Ripping Tests

We measured the DVD Ripping speed using the "Matrix" DVD Video title and DVD Decrypter.

Panasonic LF-D521 ripped the DVD files at an average speed of 5779 kb/sec. The performance is high, and is translated to a 4x average speed. As most Pioneer drives, the DVR-A05 is a slower ripper and finished the same task at around 2750 kb/sec.

- DVD reading Tests

The charts below shows the Nero CDSpeed results with the following media.

In this chart you can see the average reading speeds of Panasonic LF-D521 with 4x DVD-R/+R, 2x DVD-RW, 2.4x DVD+RW and DVD-RAM media. The drive supports 6x CAV average reading speed for DVD-R/RW and DVD+RW discs. Notice that X equals to 1.38 MB/sec for the DVD format.

With DVD+R media, the drive behaved differently and accelerated up to 12x, to drop the reading speed by the end of the disc. The reason is that the drive probably recognized the inserted disc as a DVD-ROM!

The supported DVD-RAM reading is 2x CLV.

Panasonic LF-D521 gave the same average speed in the case also of the DVD-R/RW and DVD+RW discs. As we mentioned, the performance when using DVD+R media was higher, while the DVD-RAM itself was read at 2x CLV.

6. DVD Error Correction Tests

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DVD Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we examined the DVD error correction capabilities of Panasonic LF-D521. For the tests we used CDVD Benchmark v1.21 and Nero CDSpeed . The reference test media comes from ALMEDIO.

- Single Layer media

This is a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM with a 4.7GB capacity, in which there are scratches with dimensions from 2.6 to 4.8 mm. The following transfer rate picture comes from CDVD Benchmark v1.21.

Panasonic LF-D521finished the task with no errors. The graph is not interrupted, meaning that the drive read the disc smoothly and no errors were reported. Apart from the defected areas, the inserted test disc is a DVD-ROM and was read at 12x CAV. The performance is high prevailing the drive's advanced error correction capabilities.


This is also a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM of a 4.7GB capacity. The data structure of the disc is exactly the same as that of the TDR-821, with a single difference that there are no scratches on it but defected areas with dimensions ranging from 0.5 to 1.1 mm. There are also fingerprints sized from 6.5 to 7.5 mm.

The drive did not have any problems to read the disc contents. The yellow dots correspond to the current speed in each area of the disc. No read errors were reported.

- Dual Layer media

This is a 8.5GB dual layer, single sided, DVD-ROM disc with artificial scratches of dimensions ranging from 0.4 to 4.8 mm, in both layers.

The result is very good, as it was expected, judging from the reading test with the single layer disc. If you compare the two yellow transfer lines with the one we had in the TDR-821 test, you will see that the drive showed a similar good reading behavior in both layers. The drive read the single layer DVD-ROM at 6x CAV.


The disc is a single sided, dual layer DVD-ROM disc with a capacity of 8.5GB. The only difference between the TDR-845 and the TDR-841 is that the first includes defected areas and fingerprints. The dimensions of the defected areas are ranged from 0.5 to 1.1 mm and the fingerprints are sized from 0.065 to 0.075 mm.

Again the drive easily overcomes the defected areas and successfully finishes the reading test.


The TDV-541 is a single sided, dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc, with a capacity of 8.5GB. The disc is based upon the TDV-540 series which is designed for inspection and adjustment of DVD-VIDEO players. The discs check the layer switch operation from layer 0 to layer 1 and also include test pictures and test signals for DVD sound files. The current TDV-541 model checks also the error correction capabilities of the drive and includes scratches from 1.8 to 3 mm.

The drive supports 6x CAV average reading speed for the DVD-Video format. The scratched areas did not make the drive slowdown reading and no reading problems occurred. The average reading time was 4.50x.


The TDV-545 disc is based on the TDV-540 series. It is a single sided, dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc with a capacity of 8.5GB. The TDV-545 includes artificial black dots on the data surface, sized from 0.8 to 1.0 mm. It has also 0.065 - 0.075 mm fingerprints.

Black dots and fingerprints were not a problem for the drive. The test was successful, with a 4.51x average speed.

7. CloneCD Reading Tests

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CloneCD Reading Tests

- Procedure

We used CloneCD and 3 original CDs - Serious Sam 2 (SafeDisc 2), V-Rally 2 Expert (SecuROM 2) and NBA Jam Extreme (PSX) - in order to test the reading time of the drives. We also tested the reading performance with backups of the original CDs. The following pictures show the drive reading/writing capabilities as CloneCD reports them:

As you can see the drive is not compatible with the CloneCD DAO RAW mode.

- PSX Pressed Media

For this test we used the PSX game 'NBA Jam Extreme' and we ripped the image to the HD using CloneCD. Panasonic LF-D521 needed 75sec to finish the requested task. The Pioneer drive is slightly faster.

- SafeDisc v.2 Results

The drive needed approximately 14 minutes to create the image file on the hard disk. The performance is not very high but it can be considered as adequate for a DVD recorder. The Pioneer DVR-A05 is a slower CloneCD reader and needed approximately 1 hour to finish the task.

- SecuROM Results

Panasonic LF-D521 can read SubChannel data from Data/Audio tracks. Three minutes were enough for the drive to make the image file to the hard disk.

8. DAE Tests

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DAE Tests

- DAE features

EAC reports that Panasonic LF-D521 supports "Accurate Stream", retrieves no "C2" error info and does not support "caching".

- Pressed AudioCD results

In this test we examine the speed of the DAE of the drive. Panasonic LF-D521 does not support the maximum 32x reading speed for audio ripping.The drive ripped the audio files at 19.6x average. The Pioneer was faster with a 23.8x reading speed.

- CDR AudioCD results

With CD-R media, the ripping speed is 19.6x, a little slower than in the test with the pressed CD.

- EAC Secure Extract Ripping mode

EAC's "secure extract" ripping-mode results, which ensures maximum quality produced WAV's. Note that for each drive we used the build-in detection function:

Tested Drives
Average DAE Speed (X)
Panasonic LF-D521
Pioneer DVR-A05

Under the EAC Secure Ripping Mode, Panasonic LF-D521 finished the task at an average speed of 18x. The Pioneer drive was slower since it supported "caching" and secure ripping was tougher and thus, slower.

- Advanced DAE Quality

Panasonic LF-D521 got a 100 score (best) in the Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE test. The average speed for the drive is 19.49x. The drive can also read data from SubChannel, CD Text and information from the Leadin area of the disc.

- Ripping of 99mins AudioCD's

Tested drives
Ripping up to
Panasonic LF-D521

- Reading/Ripping Protected AudioCD's

For the test procedure we used 2 protected Audio CDs, which we tested in both recognition and ripping (with EAC) processes:

Panasonic LF-D521
Pioneer DVR-A05
Cannot recognize disc contents
Rips entire disc without problems

Panasonic LF-D521 can handle both "Key2Audio" and "Cactus Data Shield 200" protected titles. Ripping was achieved in the maximum supported ripping speed and the extracted data were absolutely accurate.

9. CDR Tests

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CDR Tests

We tested the drive with latest version of Nero/CloneCD. Panasonic LF-D521 supports the 12x CLV maximum writing speed. The drive is also able to write at 8x and 4x, as Nero InfoTool reports:

For all the recording tests, we burned 803MB of data.

The drive finished the burning at 12x speed, at 432 seconds. The Pioneer DVR-A05 is faster since it supports 16x CLV maximum writing speed.

The recording times for all the supported speeds are illustrated in the following chart:

The following screen shot comes from Nero Burning Rom after a successful burning at 12x.

- Other features

Up to 99min
CD text reading/writing

- CloneCD Writing Tests

The CloneCD software reports that the drive does not support the DAO-RAW feature.

For checking the drive's EFM correction status, we used 3 different game titles with different SafeDisc 2 versions with the latest software patches installed. We used the drive as both a reader and writer at maximum reading/recording speeds. Two discs were burned for each game (Amplify Weak Sectors On/Off). One disc was burned with PadusDJ and the other with CloneCD (Amplify Weak Sectors On). The results are posted in the table below:

Game Title
Tested Drive
SD2 Build
Amplify Weak Sectors On
Amplify Weak Sectors Off
Max Payne v1.05
Creative 52X
Serious Sam - The Second Encounter v1.07
Creative 52X
The Sims - Unleashed
Creative 52X

10. CDR Writing Quality Tests

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Writing Quality Tests

We used Taiyo Yuden 80min 48x CD-R media and burned the same AudioCD project (with CD-Text) at all available recording speeds ranging from 4x-12x. Below you can see the 3T Pit & Land Jitter graphs.

- 3T Pit results

As we can see from the above graphs, the 3T Pit Jitter stays below the 35ns RED book limit for all the available recording speeds. The low writing speeds, along with the implemented CLV strategy, ensure that the quality of your CD-R compilations will be high.

The average 3T Jitter values for all recording speeds are illustrated in the following table.

The 12x writing speeds gave the highest average jitter values. The average value of jitter is less than 35nsec for all the recording speeds. We could say that you can safely burn your favorite audio discs in any available speed.

- 3T Land results

The average 3T Land results are slightly increased over those in the previous measurements of the 3T Pit Jitter. The maximum jitter values reported were 30ns, and come from the measurements on a recorded disc at 4x.

- Conclusion
Recording Speed
3T Pit Jitter (ns)
3T Land Jitter (ns)
> 35ns
Max value (ns)
27 Pit, 30 Land
26 Pit, 24 Land
32 Pit, 30 Land

The average 3T Pit and Land jitter values are below the 35nsec standard for all the recording speeds. The 12x recorded discs gave some slightly increased error values, but certainly they cannot influence the overall quality. The combination of low writing speeds and the CLV writing technology seems to guarantee the quality results.

11. HS-RW Writing Tests

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HS-RW Writing Tests

We used Nero Burning Rom for writing CDs in the maximum RW speed supported by the Panasonic LF-D521. The drive supports 8x maximum rewriting speed.

The Panasonic LF-D521 finished in 9:50 minutes, and needed just 29 seconds to perform the "quick erase" task under Nero. The DVR-A05 is slightly slower needing 9:57sec.

- Packet Writing Tests

We used InCD and Plextor HS-RW media for all Packet Writing tests. The formatting of the media takes around 10min. The formatted disc had 530mbs of free space. We copied a 403 MB file (403.147 kbps) from a Hard Disk (on the same PC as the writers) to the formatted RW media, using explorer (we dragged and dropped). We completed the test twice to eliminate possible time measurement faults and user handling errors:

In the writing part, both Panasonic and Pioneer drives gave the same average writing speed, around 5.6x. The reading task was faster for the Panasonic LF-D521, finishing at a 7.68x reading speed.

12. DVD Recording Tests

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DVD Recording Tests

- Writing Performance

Panasonic LF-D521 supports 2x CLV writing when using 4.7GB DVD-RAM discs and 1x in the case of 2.6GB media. It is very interesting the fact that data verification and sector management is carried out during the data writing process. Although the process maintains highly reliable data write, preventing data loss due to scratches, dust etc, the overall writing time is increased. Our tests using "Nero burning Rom" showed that the total recording time for 4.316GB of data was 58:52min, which is equal to 1x writing:

In order to achieve lower writing times, you should use the "B's Gold5" software bundled in the Panasonic retail package. The software allows the user to disable the verification function and increases the recording speed to x2. (26:38min in our case).

In the following screenshot you can see the B's Gold5 recording properties window where you can disable the verification function:

As we mentioned, without verification the recording process lasted 26:38min:

We also burned 4.316GB of data using the Panasonic LF-D521 drive and Pioneer 4x DVD-R and 2x DVD-RW media. The results are listed in the following table:

DVD Recording Tests
Writing Speed
Average Writing Time (min)
Panasonic LF-D521
2x (No verification)
2x (With Verification)
Pioneer DVR-A05

The following pictures come from Nero, after successful DVD-RW and DVD-R burnings. The amount of data is the same for all the tests.



- Drag & Drop writing

After formatting a DVD-RAM disc under the UDF 1.5 mode, the available free space on the disc is 4.26GB:


We drag & drop 4.21GB from HD to the DVD-RAM media. The drive needed 1:02:15 to complete the tests, which equals to 0.9x writing.

13. Conclusion

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Positive (+)

Negative (-)

  • Supports 2x 4.7GB DVD-R / DVD-RAM writing
  • High reliability of DVD-RAM
  • Built-in Defect Management
  • Complete retail package interface
  • Attached software utilities
  • Fast CD-R/ROM/DVD reading
  • Low CD/DVD seek times
  • Supports reading of all DVD recordable discs
  • High DVD Video ripping speed
  • High error correction performance with DVD format discs
  • High CD-R writing quality
  • Supports Drag & Drop writing
  • Overburning
  • Supports CD-Text (reading/writing)
  • Supports 99min discs
  • Supports Audio Protected discs
  • 1x DVD-RW writing speed
  • Average CD error correction capabilities
  • Cannot create working backups of latest SafeDisc v.2 builds
  • DAE speed could be higher
  • High media price
  • DVD-RAM incompatible with most stand alone DVD players

Panasonic DVD Burner II is definitely improved over the previous Panasonic DVD-RAM series. It supports writing of DVD-R /RAM media at 2x recording speed (equivalent to 18x CD rate). This means that you can write up to 4.7GB in less than 30 minutes.

The DVD-RAM format can be used for both computer and consumer electronic applications, providing a solution for home video, personal computing and data archiving needs. The provided storage capacities start from 650MB (CD-R) and reach the 9.4GB on DVD-RAM media. In addition, the DVD-RAM offers robust data management and a very high number of erasing cycles per medium that reaches the range of the 100,000 times.

The DVD-RAM physical structure allows a user to format the DVD-RAM disc and use it as a large floppy disc. The attached software utilities make this procedure very easy allowing formatting under either UDF or FAT modes. After formatting, simple drag&drop movements through your Windows environment are enough to have a fast and reliable archive of your data.

The retail package includes all the necessary software for CD and DVD recording, video authoring, DVD Video playback and other useful operations such as DVD-RAM physical condition testing and securing the DVD-RAM contents. All this is offered under an easy integration of the DVD-RAM features into the Windows environment.

In the reading part, the drive is fast and supports 12x CAV speed for the DVD-ROM, while the access times are also low. What is very important is the drive's high performance in the DVD error correction tests with the ABEX discs. No errors occurred in the reading process with single and dual layer media. In addition, the drive is able to read DVD+R/+RW discs. The attainable DVD ripping speed is also high.

Concerning the CD format, the drive offers 12x CD-R recording speed, 8x rewriting and 32x reading. The supported DAE speed is less than 32x and this could also be improved. Reading of subchannel data and CD-Text is available, and the CD-R writing quality is high. Protected audio discs are easily handled by the drive and can be read accurately. On the other hand, we consider the lack of the DAO RAW writing mode as a negative point, along with the average error correction capabilities for CD-R discs.

The Panasonic LF-D521 left us a positive overall impression. This is mainly due to the fact that the drive fulfills the needs for both reliable DVD recording and easy handling of AV applications. The suggested retail price is expected to be around £200. What we could think as a weakness of the DVD-RAM format is the limited DVD player support and the increased price of the DVD-RAM media.

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