Choosing a recordable DVD drive has always been somewhat of a difficult task. There was a bit of initial uncertainty as some wondered which format would win out, DVD+R or DVD–R. After all, each format has its advantages. In the end, however, unlike the Beta vs VHS battles of the early 80s, this war was quelled as OEMs moved quickly to offer both capabilities with Dual Format drives.
Today, we have another addition to the mix with the long awaited arrival of Dual Layer recordable DVDs. This iteration of writable media supports a full 8.5GB of storage capacity. And unlike previous market evolutions, Dual Layer DVD drives have entered the market at very affordable price points from the start, with some initial offerings selling for under $100. This is a far cry from the $350 initial price tags we saw with the release of the first DVD writers several years ago.
The latest Dual Layer DVD-capable drive to hit the HH test labs is the ASUS DRW-1604P Dual Layer DVD+/- R/RW ATAPI Drive. This drive not only offers Dual Layer support at 4X writing speeds, it does it using 2.4X media. Back that up with 16X DVD+/-R write speeds with 8X/4X media, and the DRW-1604P starts looking very attractive. The question is whether this drive can back up its impressive features with actual performance. Let's take a look and see what the DRW-1604P brings to the table.
DVD-ROM, DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD-RAM, CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, Photo CD, CD-DA, CD-Extra, CD-R, CD-RW
8 cm and 12 cm
60,000 Power On Hours
Operating Duty Cycle (Read) 20% POH
Operating Duty Cycle (Write) 2% POH
Vertical and Mounting)
14.8 x 4.23 x 19.8 cm (5.9 x 1.6 x 7.8 inch)
Weight 1.1kg (2.42lb)
DC + 5V DC + 12V
Operating: 5C to 45C
Storage: -20C to 60C
Operating: 5% ~ 85% (Non-condensing)
Storage: 5% ~ 90% (Non-condensing)
Operating: 0.2 G peak (at 10~500 Hz)
Storage: 1.5 G peak (at 10~500 Hz)
The DRW-1604P comes with just about everything needed to get up and running quickly. ASUS provides both a Quick Installation guide as well as a User's Manual to cover all aspects of installing and operating the drive. They also included the necessary hardware to mount and connect the drive, including four mounting screws, a 40-Pin IDE cable and audio cable for connecting to a sound card or onboard audio header. Additionally, ASUS included an OEM version of our favorite burning software, Ahead's Nero Burning ROM. To round out the package, a copy of ULEAD's DVD Movie Factory 3 Suite SE offers a broad range of DVD authoring and editing capability. Sadly, the only thing lacking was blank recordable media. Currently, Dual Layer media is relatively hard to find since the market is still in its infancy. Including a single blank disk would have been a good move in our opinion. Nonetheless, we think a blank CD-R should be included at the least, as most retail drives we've seen include this today.