Dual-Layer DVD Burner Roundup
BenQ DW1620 Specifications
BenQ's package is also fairly comprehensive, as it includes the DW-1620 drive, relevant mounting hardware, installation instructions, and a software disc. There's no Nero; rather, BenQ includes Sonic RecordNow! burning software (a $30 value), InterVideo's WinCinema, a suite consisting of WinDVD, WinProducer, WinRip, and WinCoder, QVideo 2.0 Book Type Management, and one blank DVD disc.
BenQ actually sells the DW 1620 in three different colors: black, beige, and silver. The front panel is uniform in whichever shade you purchase, unlike the Plextor and Sony models, both of which include other aesthetic highlights. The drive's backside features an IDE interface and power connector, in addition to analog and digital audio outputs.
As with most other manufacturers, BenQ advertises a handful of unique features that purportedly improve the performance and quality of burns. WOPC II (Walking Optimal Power Control II), for example, is an algorithm that dynamically adjusts laser power to optimize quality across different types of media. The BLER OPC (Block Error Rate Optimal Power Control) feature specifically improves quality near the end of a disc, where it's more susceptible to warping. Whether or not it actually makes a difference will be explored in the upcoming quality investigation. Finally, Tilt Control repositions the pickup head in order to maintain a 90-degree angle over the disc surface, even if it's uneven.
Of course, the most impressive feature is undocumented by BenQ. Although the DW-1620 is advertised as a 2.4x DL writer, flashed with the latest firmware and in conjunction with Nero 6.6, our sample had no problem churning out DL discs at 4x speeds and landing itself in the upper echelon of performance drives in the process.
Another of the DW-1620's redeeming qualities is price. Currently available online for about $65, it's one of the least expensive writers in our roundup, though slightly more expensive than Lite-On's SOHW-1633S. Although CD burning performance lags somewhat at 40x (at least compared to the Lite-On), BenQ maintains an advantage in dual-layer performance and its maximum 16x DVD-R speed.