Test Drive: Sony DVD+RW DRU110A-C1

By SmallBusinessComputing Staff | Posted April 25, 2002
Wayne N. Kawamoto
Managing Editor, www.smallbusinesscomputing.com

Small businesses that are thinking about buying a DVD burner to back-up data (up to 4.7 GB) and save video onto DVD discs may want to consider the competent Sony DRU110A-C1 DVD+RW drive. However, Sony's entry is clearly not the best on the market, and based on a recent announcement from the company, the drive is effectively obsolete.

Sony's DVD+RW drive works well as an 8X DVD-ROM and a 12X/10X/32X CD-R/RW drive, and its ability to write to DVD discs as a 2.4X burner puts it on par with other DVD+RW drives on the market. (DVD+RW-note the "plus" in the name, is one of two competing DVD write formats that are currently on the market).

The Sony drive comes with no software for managing and performing backups. However, the drive does come with B's Clip packet writing software that lets you use Windows Explorer to copy files to a DVD disc, much as you would to floppies. While this is handy for storing a few files, particularly large ones, it's no substitute for a good backup program.

For creating DVD movie discs, the drive includes Sonic's MyDVD software to import and organize video files and burn them onto DVD+RW discs. While the software worked well in our tests, we found it somewhat touchy, just as it was when we reviewed HP's dvd100i DVD+RW drive, which bundles the same program. The Sony drive also included the WinDVD program so the drive can play movie DVDs.

Installation of the drive was straight-forward and we ran into no hitches configuring the drive. However, the documentation could offer more detailed instructions to help novices. In the end, while the performance of the Sony drive is comparable to that of the HP dvd100i drive that we reviewed some weeks back, the HP entry is a better bet with its backup software, clear instructions, and software menu that helps users access the various DVD programs.

LIke the HP dvd100i, the Sony DRU110A-C1 only supports DVD+RW (rewritable) capabilities, and won't write to newer DVD+R (write-once) discs. At our press time, Sony announced new drives with this capability, which the company plans to ship in May 2002. If you only need DVD+RW capabilities, the Sony DRU110A-C1 may work for you and be available at a discount as channels blow the obsolete drives out of their inventories. For comparison, re-useable DVD+RW discs currently cost about $8, while a DVD+R disc will cost about $5.

Sony's DRU110A-C1 DVD does the job. However, we recommend that you wait for the next generation of DVD+RW/DVD+R drives that will soon be available. And if you have to choose now, we recommend Hewlett-Packard's dvd100i.

Manufacturer: Sony Corporation, www.sony.com

Price: $499

Pros: Solid assortment of software.
Cons: No backup software; doesn't integrate programs; drive is effectively obsolete.

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