TDK AID+440BX Review

TDK once again gives us a quality product at a reasonable price in the TDK 440N Indi DVD writer.
TDK once again gives us a quality product at a reasonable price in the TDK 440N Indi DVD writer.
TDK once again gives us a quality product at a reasonable price in the TDK 440N Indi DVD writer.

Highs

  • Fast read and write speeds
  • great looking exterior

Lows

  • Does not come with an audio cable or DVD+RW media

Summary

The TDK 440N Indi DVD writer is a great investment for those that plan on creating media content or backing up their computer. The instruction manual and installation video shows TDK’s dedication to the consumer while the new look of the front faceplate gives the drive a look of quality. Read and write performance on the TDK 440N was above average in our tests and the included Roxio Easy CD & DVD Creator 6 worked beautifully without a hitch. TDK once again gives us a quality product at a reasonable price in the TDK 440N Indi DVD writer. Make sure to buy DVD+RW media and an audio cable if this will be your only drive as neither is included in the 440N package.

Introduction

TDK’s new 440N Indi DVD writer joins Sony’s DRU-500AX as one of the few commercially available multi-mode DVD writers. Those wanting to stay under the $300 dollar price point will find the TDK 440N very appealing.  However, if you absolutely need to have top-of-the-line you may want to spend $50 extra for the Sony DRU-500AX as it offers a larger 8MB buffer and 4X DVD+RW writing speeds. What separates the TDK 440N from past TDK drives and from the current competition are friendly setup instructions and an external faceplate which gives the 440N an upper-end, polished look.

Features

The first thing to grab your attention about the 440N is the black faceplate, compete with a shiny polished black tray and a recessed eject button. The days of beige computer cases are coming to an end, as black colored computers and peripherals are starting to gain momentum in the market. TDK recognizes this, thus creating a matching black face plate. Other manufacturers such as Plextor and Lite-On also have optional black faceplates but none look as good as the TDK’s with the polished upper half of the tray.

The 440N writes DVD+R/-R at 4X speeds, DVD+RW/-RW at 2.4X/2X speeds and CD-R/RW at 16X/10X speeds. The TDK 440N features a 2MB buffer and utilizes Sanyo’s patented Buffer Underrun technology to prevent buffer underrun errors while creating media and multitasking at the same time. A 2MB buffer is pretty much standard with DVD writers in this price range, although we would take a larger 4MB buffer any day.

Packaged with the TDK 440N is Roxio’s Easy CD & DVD Creator 6.0 which includes software to create music CD’s, DVD movies and other forms of media. If you decide that Windows XP’s built in packet writing software is not good enough, opt to install Direct CD which will allow you to drag and drop data to your rewritable media as if it were a hard drive. Also included with the TDK 440N is a CD dedicated to supporting your new drive.

Setup and use

When it comes to CD/DVD writers, TDK always seems to take the installation process one step further than the rest. Included with their TDK 440N Indi DVD writer is an easy setup poster, a very long and descriptive manual and a video to help you through the setup process. In all fairness, setting up a DVD Writer is no different than any CD-ROM drive.  But for those new to this process, TDK walks you through it in an easy to understand fashion. The connectors are all clearly labeled on the back of the drive and after watching the video you will see that installing the TDK 440N on its own IDE channel is the best route to preventing any writing errors.

Roxio’s Easy CD & DVD Creator 6.0 is a little different than its predecessors. First of all, the record disc option is moved from the big red “record” button located near the top menu to inside the File menu, so take some time to familiarize yourself with the new GUI interface. We also recommend running Roxio’s drive tests so the software can easily determine the best transfer rates for both your hard drive(s) and the TDK 440N DVD writer. By doing this you will both speed up writing performance and reduce any errors that may occur.

We noticed upon installing the TDK 440N that there is no volume control or headphone jack located on the front of the drive. Now in all honesty most people will never use those controls, but we cannot help but think that either TDK is trying to reduce costs of the drive itself, or they think that by not adding these controls it helps add to the overall aesthetic look of the drive. In any case we would like to have seen these present on the drive.

Some people may find the recessed eject button annoying, but it worked every time for us and we never had a problem finding it. Once opened, the drive tray on the TDK 440N goes back in with a slight nudge, a trait we like to see because we know most people push the tray in to close their drives. Plextor’s PX-504A drive bay takes a bull dozer to push in and is most likely hurting the drive bay mechanism altogether.

One thing which certainly was upsetting about the TDK 440N Indi DVD writer is the lack of an audio cable or DVD+RW media disc packaged with the drive. We noticed that Plextor’s PX-504A drive was missing the same contents and we hope this is not the way most manufacturers are going to follow. For $299 we like to see a complete package which makes us feel like our money was well spent.

Performance

In our tests the TDK 440N beat out the Plextor PX-504A in about ever read and write test we did. SiSoftware Sandra showed the Plextor drive as having better results than the TDK transfer wise and the Nero DVD Speed CPU utilization test showed the Plextor as using less of our precious processor cycles. What is odd is that at the TDK 440N’s max speed, CPU utilization shot up to 19%, more than 8% higher than the Plextor drive. This is not good to see, but at the same time we experienced no read or write errors with the drive while in use. Both the TDK 440N and the Plextor PX-504A showed to be neck and neck for most of the benchmarks, neither winner won by a sizable margin. Please click on the performance tab above and below this review to see complete testing results for the TDK 440N.

In DVD+RW performance the TDK 440N smoked the Plextor 504A by more than a minute in the directory write tests and close to a minute in the file write tests.

 Both drives showed above average write tests, but the 440N edged out the Plextor 504A by a slim margin on the directory tests.

The Plextor 504A does not support DVD-R/RW media thus the zero score in this benchmark. The TDK 440N certainly is not a great performer when it comes to writing DVD-R media compared to DVD+R media.

 

 

 

 

 

 

System Configurations:

 

Windows XP Pro; AMD Athlon 1700+; Abit AT7 Max 2 motherboard; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Leadtek Geforce 4 MX video adapter.

Performance and testing

In our tests the TDK 440N beat out the Plextor PX-504A in about every read and write test we did. SiSoftware Sandra showed the Plextor drive as having better results than the TDK transfer wise and the Nero DVD Speed CPU utilization test showed the Plextor as using less of our precious processor cycles. What is odd is that at the TDK 440N’s max speed, CPU utilization shot up to 19%, more than 8% higher than the Plextor drive. This is not good to see, but at the same time we experienced no read or write errors with the drive while in use. Both the TDK 440N and the Plextor PX-504A showed to be neck and neck for most of the benchmarks, neither winner won by a sizable margin. Please click on the performance tab above and below this review to see complete testing results for the TDK 440N. Unfortunately DVD-R write times were dramatically longer that DVD+R write times in our tests. Since the Plextor 504A does not write to -R/RW media we were not able to compare the TDK 440N to a compareable drive although we suspect the 440N is on the slow side when writing to the -R/RW media.

*Edit 7/25/03 – We have had a few complaints about the 440N having trouble reading older 2X and 4X CD-R/RW media as well as some regular retail CD media. Please check TDK’s site for any firware updates which may fix this issue. As of this writing, nothing has been acknowledged by TDK. – IanBell

Conclusion

The TDK 440N Indi DVD writer is a great investment for those that plan on creating media content or backing up their computer. The instruction manual and installation video shows TDK’s dedication to the consumer while the new look of the front faceplate gives the drive a look of quality. Read and write performance on the TDK 440N was above average in our tests and the included Roxio Easy CD & DVD Creator 6 worked beautifully without a hitch. TDK once again gives us a quality product at a reasonable price in the TDK 440N Indi DVD writer. Make sure to buy DVD+RW media and an audio cable if this will be your only drive as neither is included in the 440N package.

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