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Sony DRU120A

sony-dru120-lead.jpg
  • Editors' rating
    6.8 Good
  • $349.99

Pros

  • Good performance;
  • quick DVD+RW formatting;
  • also writes to CD-R and CD-RW media.

Cons

  • Moderate software bundle and documentation;
  • buggy software;
  • slow to read non-native formats.

Sony's DRU120A is one of the new breed of DVD+RW drives that use rewriteable and write-once 4.7GB discs. Like other DVD+RW drives, the DRU120A is faster and pricier than competing DVD-RW drives. But its subpar documentation and software, which has several annoying bugs, make it only a fair deal at any price.

Physically installing this internal drive is a simple, thanks to the illustrated setup guide and the annotations on the drive itself. Set a jumper on the back, slide the drive into an open bay, attach it to a free EIDE connector and turn on your PC, whereupon Windows XP instantly recognises the DRU120A. Installing the software is a different matter. The installer doesn't remove conflicting packet-writing software on your system -- in fact, it doesn't even flag it. Another oddity is the fact that the installer indicates that the disc-burning, packet-writing and backup software is for CD-RW drives -- DVD is never mentioned.

The software problems get worse, unfortunately. When you install B's Recorder Gold disc-burning program, you're asked if there's a Ricoh CD-RW drive in the system. If you're not paying attention and say yes, an extra DLL is installed. Unfortunately, if you later right-click the DVD drive's icon in Windows Explorer, the DLL crashes Explorer. The solution: uninstall Recorder Gold and run Windows' Registry Editor. In /HKEY_Local_Machine/ Software, remove the BHA folder and restart your PC. Reinstall Recorder Gold and ignore the question about the Ricoh drive. Sony says it will remove this prompt in a future version of the software.

The rest of the DRU120A's software is uninspiring and/or buggy. NeoDVD lets you turn video files or footage into DVDs, but it won't open QuickTime MOV files -- even though it says it will (NeoDVD accepts only streaming QuickTime data). The software can read MPEG files, but the thumbnails that the program displays are often wrong, or they're duplicates of the same file. The Retrospect Express backup program has many good features, but the process of choosing folders and files to back up is convoluted, and it's hard to tell if you've selected the right target and destination drives.

It's a shame about the software, because the DRU120A out-performs other rewriteable DVD drives -- at least when it comes to rewritable DVD+RW media. In our tests, the DRU120A beat the DVD-RW drives we have tested, writing to disc between two and five times faster. The DRU120A also beat Hewlett-Packard’s competing DVD-Writer DVD200i, a DVD+RW drive. With write-once media, the Sony drive came second, burning a movie to DVD+R at 2.34MB per second compared to the DVD200i’s 2.96MB per second.

In other speed matters, the DRU120A has the same traits as other DVD+RW drives. You can format a DVD+RW in a minute or two, but deleting files, reading other formats (notably CD-RW and DVD-R) and even ejecting a disc can take a while. If you format a CD-RW in the drive, it probably can't be written to or erased in other drives unless they're using the B's obscure Clip packet-writing program that ships with the DRU120A.

Top ZDNET Reviews

Sony offers a typical one-year warranty, along with telephone and Web-based support. You'll also find FAQs, manuals and spec sheets online.

The Sony DRU120A is a nice idea that's badly packaged. Until Sony improves the software bundle, the support and the manual, HP’s DVD200i is the better choice.

Specifications

Power Device
Type none
Storage
Drive Type DVD writer
Product Type DVD+RW 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 32x (CD) / 8x (DVD)
Write Speed 12x (CD) / 2.4x (DVD)
Rewrite Speed 10x (CD) / 2.4x (DVD)
Supported Recording Modes disk-at-once, packet writing, 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+RW, DVD-ROM
Buffer Size 2 MB
Access Time 120 sec, 140 sec
Media Load Type tray
Features headphone jack, volume control wheel
Media Included Qty 1
Compliant Standards Video CD
Type DVD+RW - 5.25" x 1/2H
Expansion / Connectivity
Free 1
Interface Provided
Gender female
Connector Qty 1
Type audio, headphones
Interface line-out, output
Qty 1
Connector Type 4 pin MPC, mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm
Miscellaneous
Media Included Qty 1
Video
Video Output none
Hard Drive
Type none
Software / System Requirements
OS Required Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional, Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, Microsoft Windows XP Professional, Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition / Windows ME
System Requirements
Min RAM Size 64 MB
Min Hard Drive Space 1 GB
OS Required Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional, Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition / Windows ME, Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Environmental Parameters
Min Operating Temperature 41 °F
Max Operating Temperature 95 °F
Header
Brand Sony
Product Line Sony DRU
Model 120A
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Interface Required
Connector Type 40 pin IDC
Gender female
Connector Qty 1
Expansion Slots
Type none
Dimensions & Weight
Width 5.7 in
Depth 7.7 in
Height 1.7 in
Weight 2.65 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
Slot Required
Type none
Software
Type B's CLiP, B's Recorder GOLD, Cyberlink PowerDVD, Mediostream neoDVDstandard, MusicMatch Jukebox, Retrospect Express Backup
Service & Support
Type 1 year warranty
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Service Included parts and labor
Location carry-in
Full Contract Period 1 year

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