Review DVD is currently hyped as the storage medium of the future. Perhaps so, but it has remained prohibitively expensive until recently. Pioneer's DVR-A03 is the first DVD-RW drive to arrive in the our Test Centre, so we were keen to assess the merits of this emerging technology. A quick glance at the specifications reveals the Pioneer to be an incredibly versatile unit. In addition to DVD-R and DVD-RW, it can write CD-R and CD-RW discs, providing backwards compatibility. DVD-RAM, unfortunately, is not supported.
On the software front you'll find VOB's Instant CD/DVD, plus a copy of My DVD for creating interactive title screens for your DVD disc. The packages worked fine when loaded separately, but created stability issues when installed together (although this could have been due to prerelease software).
Writing 336MB of mixed files to a DVD-R took eight minutes 42 seconds, with a DVD-RW disc coming in at 14 minutes 18 seconds. Although slower than a CD-RW drive, it's not too bad considering that it's first-generation technology.
There's the option of performing a simulated write before transferring data to disc, testing the viability of the job, but this does add time to the recording process. It's a wise move, however, since the lack of buffer underrun technology makes wasted media a possibility. Costing approximately half as much again as a DVD-R drive, the Pioneer DVR-A03 is a unique product. Media is surprisingly affordable, with Pioneer DVD-Rs expected to retail at around £13 and DVD-RW discs at £19.
At £613, the DVR-A03 is expensive. But if you need the ability to write DVD-R and DVD-RW media, it's money well-spent. Couple this with a storage capacity of 4.7GB and you have a format that looks set to fulfil its promise and become the natural successor to the ubiquitous CD-RW drive. ®
Contact: 01753 789 500
Speeds: 2x DVD-R/1x DVD-RW/8x CD-R/4x CD-RW
Access time: 200ms DVD-ROM/180ms CD-ROM
Data buffer: 2MB
All details correct at time of publication.
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