Sony DRU-700A

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  • $159.99
Sony DRU-700A
Sony's first dual layer burner has an attractive price point and performs well, but consumers might want to wait for media to become more generally available. Read our Australian review.

Just as it was first to market with a combo plus and minus DVD burning drive, Sony's leading the charge into dual layer burning territory with the DRU-700A dual layer DVD burner. So what's all the fuss about dual layer, then? Up until now, DVD burners have, to date, utilised single layer discs that could store a maximum of 4.7GB of data -- a little over half the space of a commercially burnt DVD movie. Dual layer discs of the type that the DRU-700A (and its external case-wearing brother, the AU$549 DRU-700UL) can record to store up to 8.5GB of data. That's a solid chunk of movie time -- and inevitably a temptation to copyright infringement for some -- or a lot of data in just about any other format you'd care to name.

The DRU-700A's front panel is just about as simple as they come. The front of the DVD tray is moulded from a single piece of translucent plastic that visually you'll either love or hate. A rather small eject button sits on the bottom right hand side, and aside from a small activity light and an emergency release hole, that's all you get -- the unit lacks a volume control or headset socket, although the market for this drive is more likely to connect that type of equipment up to a dedicated sound card in any case. Installation of the DRU-700A is identical to every other burner out there; if you're nervous about such things you can check out our guide to installing DVD burners.

The DRU-700A burns CD-R media at 40x, CD-RW at 24x and DVD-/+R media at 8x, while rewriteable DVD+/-RW media both burn at 4x. That alone puts it in the top tier of burners along with drives like the Pioneer DVR-A07XL. Add in dual layer support, however, especially at the DRU-700A's appealing AU$349 price point, and the DRU-700A sits in a class of its own. At the moment, the only dual layer media it will burn is dual layer DVD+R media, which the DRU-700A writes to at 2.4x. It's also compatible with files burnt under the DVD+VR format, found on many consumer DVD recording decks, making it technically capable of reading and re-editing files recorded in that format.

On the software side, Sony provides a single application CD that focuses around Nero Burning Rom, albeit an OEM version of the software. Installation is your usual run through a visual wizard, and the package includes Nero Burning ROM 6 SE, NeroVision Express 2 for movie editing, Nero Media Player for audio ripping and media management, InCD4 for packet writing and EasyWrite Reader to install MRW/UDF support. If you don't need the packet writing support, a single button can install the three Nero packages with a minimum of fuss.

We hit one significant snag trying to perform large levels of testing with the DRU-700A. The snag in question was the near total lack of dual layer DVD+R media in the marketplace for us to test on. Burning a test collection of files totalling 6.7GB onto the single supplied piece of media took 38:19 to complete, indicating that the DRU-700A should in most circumstances be able to keep near its stated 2.4x writing speed on this type of media; that's a rough rate of 2.9MB a second in real testing compared to 3.3MB/sec stated speed. The DRU-700A handled our single layer DVD and CD writing without a fuss, but if you only wanted those features, cheaper burners are available in the market to cover that need.

There's one big problem with picking up the DRU-700A at the time of writing, and that's the severe lack of available 8.5GB media. The unit we tested came with a single piece of 8.5GB DVD+R DL media, and other than that you'll have to wait for dual layer media to hit market -- Sony's naturally got its own discs, which it expects will retail for AU$12.95, although at the time of writing they were largely unavailable for actual retail sale. Verbatim's announced that they'll have media available sometime in July, price unknown. In the meantime, though, anyone buying a DRU-700A will have to make do with single sided 4.7GB media. It's almost inevitable, however, that dual layer drives will replace single layer ones, and given Sony's incredibly aggressive pricing strategy for the DRU-700A, combined with the white-hot popularity of DVD burners at the time of writing, we suspect that'll be a remarkably quick process. While it's possible to get what appear to be grey market imports of other drives at the time of writing, in official terms it's a field that Sony alone owns right now. That won't be the case for very long at all, with manufacturers such as LG, Benq and NEC already shipping models overseas, and presumably looking towards these shores. At the moment, though, there's simply nothing to touch the DRU-700A.

Sony DRU-700A
Company: Sony Australia
Price: AU$349
Distributor: Selected resellers
Phone: 1300 137 669


Device Type DVD±RW (+R DL) drive - internal
Power Device
Type none
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
Read Speed 40x (CD) / 12x (DVD)
Write Speed 40x (CD) / 8x (DVD±R) / 2.4x (DVD+R DL)
Rewrite Speed 24x (CD) / 4x (DVD±RW)
Supported Recording Modes disk-at-once, multisession, packet writing, random access write, sequential write, session-at-once, track-at-once
Supported Media Formats CD Extra, CD Text, CD-DA (audio), 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 Power-Burn
Access Time 160 sec, 200 sec
Media Load Type tray
Features dual layer recording, emergency disk eject hole
Compliant Standards CD-Bridge
Type DVD±RW (+R DL) - 5.25" x 1/2H
Interface Provided
Qty 1
Connector Type 40 pin IDC
Interface ATA-33
Video Output none
Software / System Requirements
OS Required Microsoft Windows 2000 / XP
System Requirements
OS Required Microsoft Windows 2000 / XP
Brand Sony
Product Line Sony DRU
Model 700A
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Expansion Slots
Type none
Dimensions & Weight
Width 5.7 in
Depth 6.5 in
Height 1.6 in
Bay Required
Total Qty 1
Type front accessible
Form Factor 5.25" x 1/2H
Form Factor (metric) 13.3 cm x 1/2H
Slot Required
Type none

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