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Sony DRX-830UL-T External DVD burner

Drive supports up to 18X DVD burning By John Virata

While computer users still wait for HD DVD and Blu-RAY drives to come down to realistic price levels, DVD burners continue to get faster. Sony's latest line of external DVD burners includes the DRX-830UL-T, a multi-format drive that supports speeds that are so fast that the media can't keep up.

The Sony DRX-830UL-T optical drive is an external DVD+/- drive that features a maximum 18X dual format (DVD+/-R) burning capability. However, there is no 18X media yet to match the speed of the drive. The drive itself connects to Windows or Macintosh computers either via FireWire or high speed USB 2.0. It can record DVD+R at 18X, DVD+RW at 8X, DVD+R DL at 8X, as well as DVD-R at 18X, DVD-RW at 6X, and DVD-R DL at 8X. Another notable feature is support for DVD-RAM. It can record to DVD-RAM at 12X speed. It features a 2MB buffer, a maximum sustained data transfer rate of 21MB/second in 16X DVD-ROM mode, an average access time of 140ms (DVD at 16X) and 130ms (CD at 48X), and a burst transfer rate of 480Mbit/sec max (USB 2.0), 400Mbit/sec max (IEEE 1394) .

Sony has always made highly designed DVD burners. This one is just a bit more than $100

The drive itself features Toast 6 lite for Macintosh and Nero 7 Essentials for Windows to get you burning CDs and DVDs. The rear of the drive is where you'll find the USB 2.0 high speed connector as well as the 4-pin and 6-pin FireWire ports. Cables for both connection formats are also included in the box. While some may frown upon external DVD burners, they are preferred by many, including this author, for their portability as well as the capability to move the drive to the new computer that people inevitably purchase when the old one goes south. In addition, not all Macintosh users buy a Mac with the so-called SuperDrive, so the DRX-830UL-T would be a good complement in this regard as well.

The DRX-830UL-T works with a Power Macintosh G3 or later that is capable of running a minimum Mac OS X 10.2 with a FireWire or USB 2.0 port, and 256MB RAM. Windows users are required to have an 800MHz Pentium III or faster running Windows 2000 Professional, Windows XP Home or Professional edition with SP2, 256MB RAM and 10GB free disk space to install Nero Vision 4. Windows Vista is not yet supported with this device but should run.

To test out the drive, it was connected to a Windows XP-based AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ CPU with 2GB RAM and a 500GB Seagate hard disk drive. 4.24GB of data was burned to Verbatim 16X DVD+ and DVD- media using the included Nero Express software. Using the 16X Verbatim DVD+ media, the DRX-830UL-T burned the data in five minutes, 14 seconds. The same data burned to Verbatim's DVD- media completed the task in five minutes, 37 seconds, just a tad slower than the DVD+ media. Five minutes to burn 4GB of data to a DVD? That is pretty fast, especially if you are backing up to make room on your hard drives, or just backing up for the safety of backing up, which you should do often. With the DRX-830UL-T, you've got a fairly fast backup mechanism that enables you to backup your data and keep that data portable, on media that is more reliable than other methods.

If you are in the market for a new DVD burner, and want the most compatibility out there, but aren't yet ready to take the plunge with the still expensive Blu Ray/HD DVD drives, the Sony DRX-830UL-T could be just the ticket, because in addition to the formats used to test the device, it also supports dual layer media as well as all CD-ROM formats and the oft ignored but still very capable DVD-RAM format. The drive is nicely designed in a gray color scheme complemented with a mirrored door. It enables you to connect to your computer via USB 2.0 as well as FireWire and comes with decent software for both Macintosh and PC. The drive is a bit loud when burning, especially at the end of the burn session, but that shouldn’t deter you from your purchasing decision. In all, it is a nifty drive that doesn't present any issues. Setup was straightforward as it should be, and it will look sharp on any desk. The drive can be had for around $120 (list price $129.99) and comes with a one year warranty. For more information, visit Sony's website.

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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at
Related Keywords:DVD burner, DVD , DRX-830UL-T, dvd creation

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