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AOpen COM5232 AOpen DRW8800: We have a spin with an AOpen DVD burner that burns up to 8x for DVDs and is cheap to boot.
Date: August 16, 2004
Written By: Brook Moore

With 12x DVD Recorders appearing on the shelf, we are going to take a look at a bargain 8x recorder and see if it matches up to current trends. is well known for PC Components, as they have been building products from motherboards to monitors and even I/O components for 20+ years. AOpen has a focus on using current technology with a rapid to market scheme to allow everyone from the beginner to the entrepreneur access to current technology.

Today we are looking at the , an 8x Dual DVD recorder, in this particular scenario, dual stands for + and - formats, not layer. Full specifications for this drive can be found .

Key Features

Best Combination as using a DVD+R/RW,DVD-R/RW,CD-RW,DVD,CD
Best compatibility with recording software
Calculating the optimum laser power and adjusting it in real-time

Takes advantage of "high resolution writing strategy"
Takes buffer underrun error prevention technology
Dust-proof design

The AOpen DRW8800 is based on a drive design from Ricoh. In this case it's Ricoh's newer 8x DVD±RW, the MP5308D. While there are a few cosmetic differences like the large "AOpen" logo, both drives are almost identical right down to supporting Just Link, Ricoh's underun protection scheme. Even with this similarity, Windows XP still recognizes the drive as an AOpen Dual 8x AAN drive. This could mean that BIOS updates would have to be AOpen specific.

What's Included

The packaging for the drive has your AOpen logo on the top left and in large letters 8X DVD Dual, this could be misleading to those that don't read further to distinguish if it is a Dual Layer DVD Writer or simply able to write + or - discs. Inside the packaging we find a quick installation guide, analog cable, mounting screws, a Bonus DVD of included software and the drive itself.

The Bonus DVD includes the following full titles:
• PowerDVD 5, to play DVD Video
• Video Studio 7 and neoDVD for DVD and VCD Authoring
• Nero 5.5 for Writing
• InCD for Packet Writing

I was actually surprised to see Nero 5.5 when most drives are shipping with Nero 6.x, be assured that 5.5 works fine for writing DVD + or -, but 6.x offers the end user so much more. PowerDVD is a adequate player, it plays DVDs just fine, however, it is not suited to playing SVCDs if you so wish to do so. Video Studio 7 and neoDVD seem to work well for authoring, although I am no expert in that arena. One thing that is glaringly missing, and has been in most DVD writer packages I have seen, is that no blank discs are included to begin your foray into DVD writing. The manufacturers used to include a couple of CD-Rs and a CD-RW on the CD Writable drives; it appears they have ended this trend with DVD Writers.


Looking at the front of the drive closely you can see logos advertising support for DVD-R/RW, DVD+ReWritable and Ultra Speed CD-RW media molded into the drive's tray. If it looks like something is missing, you're right. Like most of the DVD writers of the last 6 months, there is no headphone jack or volume control on the front of the DRW8800. For most people, these features probably won't be missed. Looking at the front of the drive you can see that AOpen's new drive also has one LED. This square shaped LED lights up green whenever the drive is reading or writing.

The rear of the DRW8800 is fairly straightforward. You can see the drive's IDE interface, power connector and audio output connectors. Starting from the left of the IDE connection you'll see the jumper switch for master, slave and cable select. By default it comes set as master, a setting I would leave as your DVD Writer should have priority on its channel if at all possible. Next to the jumper block is the analog audio connector. The connector on the far left is the digital audio output.


Installing the AOpen DRW8800 was the same as installing any other internal 5.25" drive, there are really no gotchyas to the install and setup (as long as you are running Windows XP). The drive is recognized on first boot and Nero / Alcohol 120% / Easy CD-Creator all recognize it immediately as a resource.

AOpen uses the RPC II region control, allowing you to change the region up to 5 times; the 5th change will lock it permanently at that region. For this review, we are using Region 1, North America.


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