The Sony DRU-810A is the company’s follow-up to their first Dual Layer DVD writer, the DRU-800A. As you can imagine, not a whole lot has changed between the two models. You get updated software, faster read/write times and hopefully better media compatibility. The DRU-810A can be found from various manufacturers for around $100 dollars. The Sony DRU-810A comes with a software package provided by Nero and two faceplates, one in gray and another in black.
Features and Design
Set the DRU-810A next to the DRU-800A or any other Sony 700 series DVD writer and you will be hard pressed to tell the difference. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing; if it works, than by all means keep the look, but a facelift isn’t such a bad thing every now and then. Cosmetics are starting to play a bigger role with PCs (just ask Apple or look at a Sony VAIO product) and it would be great to see Sony pay some attention to it, but no matter, it’s what’s under the hood that counts right? If you decide to keep the stock faceplate, it features a clear plastic cover for the drive bay while the rest of the faceplate is colored the tried-and-true Sony gray. If you have a black PC, then you are in luck because Sony packs an extra faceplate with their player that should match your PC case.
The front of the DRU-810A is pretty bare and does not feature a volume control or headphone jack, but who uses those anyways? There is a LED light located next to the eject button. The LED lights up a bright green during the reading and writing process. If you pay attention to the picture, you will notice that Sony has moved this LED from the left side of the drive over to the right. So maybe there is a way to tell the different between the 810A and 800A after all!
Included with the DRU-810A is the Sony software featuring Nero burning ROM 6 SE, 4 screws for mounting the drive and several manuals. Sony has cheapened things up over previous models by leaving an IDE cable out. And you still do not get any recordable media with this unit. Sony recommends that you use Verbatim brand media with their writers.
Write speeds that the 810A supports include: 16X DVD+R, 8X DVD+RW, 16X DVD-R, 6X DVD-RW, 48X CD-R, 32X CD-RW, 8X DVD+R DL and 4X DVD-R DL. Read speeds are rated at 16X for DVD-ROM and 48X for CD-ROM media. For detailed specifications, please click on the “specs” tab and link found above and below this review.
So what’s the main difference between the 800A and the 810A? The 810A can write to DL media at 8X speeds while the 800A is limited to 4X speeds. This is a huge difference on paper, but are the numbers really there?
Image Courtesy of Sony America
Designtechnica Test System
Windows XP Professional; Intel LGA 775 3GHz CPU; 1GB Crucial Ballisitx DDR2 533MHz RAM; MSI ATI X800 XT video card; Western Digital 7200RPM SATA 80GB hard drive
Setup and Use
Sony has really gone out of their way to make sure that you understand how their software and DVD writer works. Included within the 810A contents are instructions for operating the drive itself, a Nero quick start guide, another quick start guide for installing the drive, and separate instructions for replacing the faceplate. All of the manuals are well written and easy to follow. Installing the drive is a simple task. If you are going to make this drive your primary drive, make sure the tab is set to “master” and it’s the first drive on your IDE channel. Once the drive is installed, run the software CD which comes with the unit to get everything setup. Sony uses their own top level GUI for the software setup which lets you install Nero or view their guide in PDF format.
Nero Burning ROM is a great software suite and since it’s a very common program, chances are that most people already have experience with it. Nero Burning ROM is broken down into 5 different programs, Nero Burning ROM 6-SE, InCD4, Nero Vision Express 3, Nero Backitup, and Nero Showtime2. Nero Burning ROM 6-SE is the core program and it is used for writing to multiple media formats using a number of different settings. InCD4 is the company’s packet writing software which lets you drag and drop files onto your DVD drive so that it can write to DVD+/-RW and CD-RW media the same way it would to a hard drive; the session stays open. Nero Vision Express 3 is DVD video and Video-CD authoring and editing software. It looks and works great for the amateur publisher. Nero Backitup is pretty self explanatory; it’s the backup software that comes with the 810A. It might not be as fancy as Retrospect, but it works well and gives the end user plenty of options, it’s certainly cheaper than buying an external hard drive for backup purposes. And last but not least, we have Nero Showtime 2 which lets you playback DVD movies through your computer. Think PowerDVD or WinDVD stripped down and you’ll get the picture. Overall, the Nero suite should cover all of your basics, at least until you become a pro.
Sony DRU-810 Setup Menu
As we expected the 810A really excels when it comes to writing DVD+R DL media. With other media formats, the 810A is basically neck and neck with the older 800A model. Samsung’s TS-H552U really dogged behind the two Sony drives with exception to the DVD+R DL write tests, in which it finished in second place behind the 800A. The Samsung drive cannot write to DVD-R DL media so if that is a format you are wanting support for you will have to skip that drive altogether. So, is the 810A really twice as fast as the 800A at writing to DVD+R DL media? Well, not exactly. But it did write 7.16 gigs of data in just over thirteen minutes, besting last years 800A by ten minutes. Not too shabby really.
We want to point out that for our tests we were supplied some sample Verbatim 8X DVD+R DL media. You will have a tough time finding Dual Layer media rated for 8X write times, but in a few months you should have no problem. We did experience some problems with the 810A not recognizing some of the Verbatim media but we were told that is due to their “sample” status and that the Verbatim media should be fine once it’s in retail channels. We did not experience any problems writing to Memorex, Sony or TDK media which is what can be found at CompUSA or Best Buy. For complete test results, please click on the performance tab and link located above and below this review.
So you have last years Dual Layer DVD writer and you are wondering if you should upgrade to the Sony DRU-810A. If you write to a lot of DVD+R DL media and write times are crucial – then yes, you should upgrade. Otherwise, save your money for one of the next-generation LightScribe or Blu-Ray DVD writers.
The Sony DRU-810A is a solid DVD writer. Sony throws in a nice software package and we found the drive to be fast and reliable. It’s a bummer that Sony left an IDE cable out though and, hopefully, you already have one. If you have a black computer case, then the extra faceplate will work nicely for you. Other than the fast DVD+R DL write times, the DRU-810 unfortunately takes a step backwards on the evolutionary chain. Lets see faster write speeds for other media types and an IDE cable next time.
– Fast DVD+R DL write times
– Comes with two faceplates
– Nice software package
– Detailed instructions
– Not really as impressive as we were hoping
– No IDE cable included
– Average write speeds for most media formats