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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
Manufacturer:
Written By: Brook Moore
Price:
 

Test System

ABIT AI7 motherboard, 1GB Kingston HyperX PC4300, Intel P4 (Prescott Core) 2.8GHz, ATI Radeon 9600XT 128MB, Hitachi 80GB 7200rpm SATA, Windows XP SP1a

For testing purposes I am using NeroCDSpeed from Nero 6.3.1.10, this should give us a good indication of how the drive performs in various situations and on differing media types.

Comparison Drives

I will be comparing the AOpen DRW8800 (8x DVD +/- R, 4x DVD +/- RW, 32x CD-R, 16x CD-RW) to the previously reviewed ASUS DRW-0804P (8x DVD +/-R, 4x DVD +/- RW, 24x CD-R, 24x CD-RW) and the Pioneer DVR-105 (4x DVD –R, 2.4x DVD-RW, 16x CD-R, 8x CD-RW).

Read Tests

First off we will try some DVD reading, starting with reading a pressed DVD Video and then a pressed DVD Data Disk (the one that came with the drive actually).

Video
Data
AOpen
3.41
8.9
ASUS
3.92
9.37
Pioneer
2.06
9.46

Nero Drive Speed scores, Higher is better

As you can see, the AOpen is slightly slower than the Pioneer and the ASUS on a pressed DVD Data Disc; however, it performs better than the Pioneer and up to par with the ASUS when reading a Dual Layer DVD Video Disc.

Next we will compare the read speeds of pressed CDs, CD-R.

CD
CD-R
AOpen
31.62
31.36
ASUS
30.28
31.87
Pioneer
25.56
25.6

Nero Drive Speed scores, Higher is better

AOpen keeps up nicely with the ASUS, both of which outperform the dated Pioneer when reading pressed and written CDs.

Write Tests

Now for what you buy this drive for, writing DVDs. Here we will look at DVD + and -R speeds using TDK 8x +R and Ritek 8x -R Media.

+R
-R
AOpen
09:18
09:20
ASUS
07:50
08:03
Pioneer
N/A
14:14

Time in Minutes, Lower is better

Some very interesting results here. The ASUS outperforms the AOpen handily in this category, with the AOpen taking almost 1:30 longer to burn 4.14GB on a +R disc, and 1:15 longer on a -R disc. The Pioneer, a 4x recorder, is an obvious distant 3rd. The write speeds were similar whether we were writing a Data DVD or Video from an ISO.

Next we will compare +/- RW disks, unfortunately, the previous review of RW discs on the ASUS did not include the -RW. Fortunately, the -RW speeds are almost identical to the +RW speeds on the AOpen, so we assume the same will happen on the ASUS. We used Memorex 4x +RW and Ritek 4x -RW for this test.

+RW
-RW
AOpen
14:04
13.51
ASUS
13:47
N/A
Pioneer
N/A
27:52

Time in Minutes, Lower is better

Once again the AOpen is outperformed by the ASUS, although in this instance it is not as drastic a difference, a mere 0:17 seconds variance on the +RW disc. As with the +/- R disc, the write speeds are identical with Video or Data being written to the disc.

Last up is CD writing speeds, this section is a little grayer as each drive has different writing speeds on the CD side, I tend to believe that a mechanical device has so many burns (right or wrong), therefore I tend to burn CDs on my dedicated MSI 32x burner. Never the less, we need to show you the performance in case this is the only writer you will have installed. We used FujiFilm 40x CD-R and Memorex 24x CD-RW for this test.

CD-R
CD-RW
AOpen
27.68
16.04
ASUS
22.45
22.35
Pioneer
16.02
8.01

Nero Drive Speed scores, Higher is better

The AOpen performs very well in the CD-R tests, and up to par in the CD-RW tests. With the ASUS and Pioneer coming in at 24x and 16x respectively, it would be difficult to compare them to the 32x of the AOpen. Interestingly, the ASUS is a 24x CD-RW burner while the AOpen is a 16x CD-RW.

Additional Notes

I attempted to write several other media (non 8x) to determine write speeds and if there would be any problematic media to look out for. I used Alcohol 120% with a Video ISO of 4.14GB, here is a sample of what I found.

Media
Rated Speed
Max Write Speed
TDK 120Min Video 4x +R
4x
6.1x
Kyphermedia 4x Data +R
4x
4.3x
FujiFilm 120Min Video 2.4x +R
2.4x
2.6x
Memorex 120Min Video 2.4x +R
2.4x
2.8x
Samsung 120Min Video 2.4x –R
2.4x
2.4x
Kyphermedia Data 4x –R
4x
2.4x

Conclusion

AOpen has delivered an adequate drive for those of us who require +/- support, and at a very nice price point of . Although the drive is not as fast as the ASUS, it is a suitable drive for those of us who don't burn DVDs 24x7 as the MIAA thinks we all do. The included software gives the beginner a great place to start and build their own DVDs from many sources, primarily your MiniDV camcorder, with tools to help you become a Director/Producer in your own right.

It's a shame that AOpen didn't include any blank media to get you started although this probably goes towards keeping the overall cost to a minimum, although you would think that users would prefer a less 'flashy' box in favour of some blank media.

Apart from that, and despite the fact their seems to be a lot of 'cons' mentioned, for the money this is a good unit, although not as fast as others on the market.

Pros: Burns 8x + and -R DVD media, 4x + and -RW DVD media, and 32x CD-R media. Windows XP recognizes with no intervention. Quality included Software (for the most part). Price.

Cons: Midrange speeds on writing DVDs. Nero 5.5 instead of 6.x. No included 8x DVD + or - media.

Bottom Line: AOpen has delivered a cost effective +/- writer with decent speeds and a good package of included software. AOpen should consider changing some of their verbiage, especially the Dual, as I am sure some people will assume Dual Layer, and they would be very disappointed.

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