35. Final thoughts
2. CD and DVD reading tests
3. Reading damaged CDs
4. Reading damaged DVDs
5. Reading Blu-ray discs
6. CD DVD media quality testbed
7. CD-R burning - Verbatim 48x @ 24x
8. CD-R burning - Maxell 52x @24x
9. DVD-R burning - TDK TTH02 16x @ 8x
10. DVD-R burning - Verbatim MCC03RG20 16x @ 8x
11. DVD-R burning - CMC MAG AM3 16x @ 8x
12. DVD-R burning - Moser Baer India MBI01RG40 16x @ 8x
13. DVD-R burning - Taiyo Yuden TYG03 16x @ 8x
14. DVD+R burning - Philips INFOME R30 16x @ 8x
15. DVD+R burning - Moser Baer India MBIPG101 R05 16x @ 8x
16. DVD+R burning - Verbatim MCC004 16x @ 8x
17. DVD+R burning - PRODISC R04 16x @ 8x
18. DVD+R DL burning - Moser Baer India MBIPG101 R10 8x
19. DVD+R DL burning - Verbatim MKM 003 8x @ 4x
20. DVD-R DL burning - Verbatim MKM 03RD30 8x @ 4x
21. DVD-RW burning - Verbatim MKM 01RW6X01 6x @ 4x
22. DVD+RW burning - Verbatim MKM A03 8x @ 4x
23. DVD-RAM burning - Maxell MXL16 5x @ 5x
24. BD-R burning - Verbatim BD-R 25GB LTH VERBATIMu 6x @ 6x
25. BD-R burning - Verbatim BD-R 25GB VERBATIMe 6x @ 6x
26. BD-R burning - TDK BD-R 25GB TDKBLDRBB 4x @ 4x
27. BD-R burning - Sony BD-R 25GB SONY N3 6x @ 6x
28. BD-R burning - Verbatim BD-R 25GB VERBATIMc 4x @ 4x
29. BD-R burning - Verbatim BD-R 50GB VERBATIMf 6x @ 4x
30. BD-R burning - Verbatim BD-R 25GB VERBATIM0 2x @ 2x
31. BD-RE burning - Verbatim BD-RE 50GB VERBATIM1 2x @ 2x
32. BD-RE burning - Verbatim BD-RE 7GB VERBATIM0 2x @ 2x
33. BD-RE burning - TDK BD-R 50GB TDKBLDRFB 4x @ 2x
34. Summary of CD/DVD/BD quality tests, Booktype, Overburning
35. Final thoughts
Let's summarize our findings. The Sony BDX-S500U BD burner comes complete with support for all the CD, DVD and BD media for both reading and writing. Stylish and portable enough to carry with you, it can find its place either in your living room connected to your HTPC or even as a companion to your laptop. Sony is offering a complete software bundle with the drive, covering your media burning and playback needs, including Blu-ray movie playback. Although the supported CD and DVD writing speeds are typical for an external portable drive and lower than what the internal burners usually offer, they are still high enough for everyday routine tasks. And of course, the drive's basic strength remains the 6x maximum burning speed for Blu-ray discs - at least under the right hardware environment as we will see later on.
In the reading tests, the drive read the various CDs and DVDs accurately and at the maximum supported speeds, including the defected discs we typically try to read in our benchmarks. As a Blu-ray disc player, the drive also an accurate reader with all the BD-R /RE /SL and DL media, as well as with BD-ROM discs and movies. The PowerDVD software will also flawlessly playback your favorite BD movie discs.
The Sony BDX-S500U burned the CD-Rs we tested at their maximum supported speed (24x) and the quality tests were really encouraging. CD-RW's were burned at a lower speed of 16x. We should notice here that you'd better use any 24x HS-RW discs with the drive since it will not recognize the Verbatim HS-RWs for 32x.
DVD burning was a mixed bag; the quality measurements with most of the DVD-Rs we tested were disappointing. The same applies for the DVD-Rs DL discs and this is definitely a firmware issue. The situation with DVD+Rs was much better as we saw high-quality burnings. Generally, the list with the supported DVD+R/-R SL and DL media for the drive is limited to the basic and most popular brands.
When it comes to Blu-ray disc burning, the Sony BDX-S500U drive offers a wide compatibility with the most popular BD-R /RE SL and DL discs. The supported burning speeds are high enough for a portable drive: 6x with BD-R SL, 4x for BD-R DL and 2x for BD-RE SL/DL. However, in order to enjoy the maximum burning speed of 6x, make sure that your PC's USB 2.0 controller is able to operate at its maximum bandwidth.
The 6X speed offered by the BDX-S500U when writing to single-sided discs is translated into a write speed of 216Mbps. The PC's USB 2.0 port has a theoretical maximum speed of 480MBps, but it runs much slower in real-world. Some of that speed is taken away by networking overheads built into the protocol, and more by inefficiencies in USB interface chips. In our case, although the drive was the only USB device connected to the USB bus, the USB interface reached its limits at ~192Mbps, which is translated to 5.33X in terms of BD speed (1X = 36Mbps). The result was a BD-R burning speed that topped at 5.33X . The situation did not change when we connected the drive to another PC. The specific behavior does not seem to influence the writing quality of the BD-Rs we tested, which was generally good with some exceptions, according to the measurements we got using the OptiDrive Control software.
The Sony BDX-S500U drive could be alternatively be equipped with an eSATA or a USB 3.0 port in order to perform as it should be without worrying about the hardware installed in your computer. Of course, the first USB 3.0 ODD drives are coming this year and Sony will probably also upgrade the Sony BDX-S500U.
The Sony BDX-S500U can be purchased online at about $220.
- Stylish, compact and lightweight design
- Supports BD-R LTH 6x media
- Writes to BD-R media at 6x
- Writes to BD-R DL media at 4x
- Reads single layer BD-ROM/-Rs at 6x
- Reads BD-RE and BD-R DL media at 4x
- Reads and writes to DVD-RAM media at 5x
- Good DVD+R/+RW/-RW and CD-R writing quality
- Good software bundle
- Adequate CD error correction, great DVD error correction
- USB 2.0 interface could limit the maximum 6x BD burning speed
- Questionable writing quality with some Blu-ray, DVD-R and DVD-R DL media
- Cannot set the book type of DVD+R/+RDL or DVD+RW media
- Does not support writing on Verbatim 32x HS-RW media
- Does not support 99 minute CD-R media
- Does not support overburning with CDs / DVDs