Pioneer DVR-A08XL

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Pioneer DVR-A08XL
Pioneer updates its DVD burner line with the dual-layer capable DVR-A08XL

Pioneer's DVR-A08XL represents the manufacturer's eighth generation of DVD burner technology, and like its predecessors, it's a solid drive with an excellent supplied software package if you purchase the full retail version of the drive. In fact, if we were to criticise the A08XL, it would only be to say that it's so remarkably similar to the A07 drive that preceded it -- and if you have that drive, the key factors that might want to make you upgrade would be the introduction of dual layer (+R DL media) burning and 16x single layer burning support.

Like the A07XL, the A08XL adopts a minimalist approach to its physical design. It does feature Pioneer's distinctive honeycomb chassis design, but once you've installed that into a PC or external enclosure, you won't be able to see that anyway. The front panel design offers a nice large eject button, a very small activity light, and that's all. Pioneer sells the drive in beige and black faceplate variants. Installation is the same as with any IDE drive -- if you're unsure how to install an IDE drive, this guide takes you step by step through what you need to know.

The big improvements that the A08XL makes over its predecessors is in burning speed and capability. For a start, it's capable of burning to dual layer DVD+R media; at this stage actually getting media to burn is still something of a challenge, and it's not clear whether this generation of drives will be firmware upgradeable to support future dual layer formats -- although it's likely they won't.

Single layer burning speed is also up -- to 16x with -/+R media, although the write speed for rewriteable media remains at 4x. CD writing speeds also get a bump upwards, to 32x from a previous 24x maximum. As with previous models, the A08XL features a liquid crystal tilt compensator to (theoretically) compensate for disc irregularities, as well as features designed to lower the drive noise. One nice trick that the A08XL can pull off is to run full burn speeds on -/+R media on discs that are actually rated lower -- so you can burn at 16x on 8x-rated media. Depending on the quality of your media, that might not be the best idea, but it's nice to have the capability.

On the software side, Pioneer continues to bundle a whole heap of Ulead utilities with its burners -- Ulead DVD MovieFactory 3.5 SE Suite, Video Studio 8 SE and DVD Workshop 2 SE as well as Nero 6 Suite. If you're just starting out with DVD burning it's a great suite of products to get, although enthusiasts and professionals probably won't even give the bundled applications a second look.

In our tests, the Pioneer DVD A08XL managed to burn a full 8.5GB Dual Layer disc in 24:22; that's almost exactly in line with what we'd expect for a drive with these specifications. With single layer media our results were slightly more mixed -- with one test burn the drive took much longer than its Nero-estimated 3:30, taking 7:37, although we suspect that was more to do with a dodgy disc and the drive attempting to correct potential errors on the fly.

Pioneer DVR-A08XL
Company: Pioneer
Price: AU$299
Phone: 1300 666 383

Specifications

Power Device
Type none
Storage
Drive Type DVD writer
Product Type DVD±RW (+R DL) drive
Enclosure Type internal
Interface IDE
Optical Storage
Form Factor 5.25" x 1/2H
Form Factor (metric) 13.3 cm x 1/2H
Speeds 16x/16x
Read Speed 40x (CD) / 16x (DVD)
Write Speed 32x (CD) / 16x (DVD±R) / 4x (DVD+R DL)
Rewrite Speed 24x (CD) / 4x (DVD±RW)
Supported Recording Modes disk-at-once, multisession, sequential write, session-at-once, track-at-once
Supported Media Formats CD Extra, CD Text, CD-DA (audio), CD-I, CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, Photo CD, Video CD
Supported Media Types CD-R, CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+R DL, DVD+RW, DVD-ROM
Buffer Size 2 MB
Buffer Underrun Protection Yes
Media Load Type tray
Features emergency disk eject hole, horizontal/vertical mountable
Media Included Qty 2
Compliant Standards Video CD
Type DVD±RW (+R DL) - 5.25" x 1/2H
Interface Provided
Qty 1
Connector Type 40 pin IDC
Interface IDE/ATAPI
Miscellaneous
Package Type Retail
Media Included Qty 2
Video
Video Output none
Header
Brand Pioneer
Product Line Pioneer DVR
Model DVR-A08XL
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Expansion Slots
Type none
Dimensions & Weight
Width 5.8 in
Depth 7.8 in
Height 1.7 in
Weight 2.43 lbs
Bay Required
Total Qty 1
Type front accessible
Form Factor 5.25" x 1/2H
Form Factor (metric) 13.3 cm x 1/2H
Software
Type Nero OEM Suite 3, Ulead DVD MovieFactory 3.5 SE Suite Deluxe, Ulead DVD Workshop 2 SE, Ulead PhotoImpact 8 SE

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