Time to take the plunge and buy ourselves a DVD burner. Now was the time as prices had been getting lower and lower and a unit with ALL the features we wanted was now pretty cheap we decided to do it.
We picked up a Buffalo DVSM-X516IU2, which is a rebadged Hitachi / LG HL-DT-ST DVDRAM GSA-4167B
This unit had everyhting we were after: DVD-/+R 16x, DVD-RW 6x, DVD-R9 4x, DVD+RW 8x, DVD+R9 6x, DVD-RAM 5x, DVD-ROM 16x, CD-ROM 48x, CD-R 48x and CD-RW 32x. A lot of features. It was also an external unit with IEEE1394 and USB 2.0 connectors. Does everything and can be used anywhere on pretty much any PC.
Hooked it up (via IEEE) to the main family PC and it was detected with out any problems. Poped a blank DVD-R (2-4x) disc in and was up an burning at 4x speed.
I had a lot of data on this machine and went through the 10 pack of 4x DVD-R discs in no time so next time we were out we bought a spindle of 8x DVD-Rs – they were labled “Baby Maker” (!!!) – don’t ask – I looked at the inner ring and saw PRINCO – princo discs it seems they’re a good brand, shouldn’t give us any trouble then.
Went to do a burn and our burning software would only give us the option to burn at 4x. What the..?! These are 8x dics and the burner can burn up to 16x so why isn’t it allowing us to burn at this speed? Stupid #%$^% software. Ok, install a different burning program – same result! Damn. Maybe this PC is “too slow” to do a 8x burn, though people on some message boards claimed to have done a burn at 8x on a PC that was slower than mine.
I hooked the unit upto my laptop and ran some speed tests – looking at the results it should be “faast enough” for an 8x burn. Nope! Same again only up to 4x.
Ok, same result on two different PCs, one that is a “little slow” and one that is “fast enough” — don’t make any difference. The burner has been flashed with the latest firmware. The unit can burn up to 16x and these are 8x discs so it should allow me to burn at 8x.
I was stumped, then I came across a message on one forum about a program called “DVD Identifier” – I installed it and ran it on a burnt DVD – it IDed the disc as a “PRINCO”, so it’s not some el-cheapo disc here. I also saw a message about a program called “Media Code Speed Edit” ran this and loaded up the latest firmware file into it and it reported back what speeds the burner can handle with what make/model of blank DVD disc. Ah-ha – skipping down to DVD-R and looking for PRINCO – found it. Speeds supported – 4x. ><
So it looks like this – in order to burn at a given speed THREE things must be met: your burner must be able to handle the speed you want to burn at, the disc must be x, 8x or whatever speed you want to burn at and finally the firmware must allow your unit to burn at the speed you want with the media you have. So if you have some PRINCO discs (as an example) and the firmware lists burns at 4x – then that’s it.
Unlike CD burning where you have a 42x burner and a 42x CD-R and it works, with a DVD the firmware has got to “allow” it.
That’s the theory – I’ve still got to buy a disc that the firmware says can be burnt at 8x or 16x speed and see what happens.
P.S. Here is the output of Media Code Edit for the HL-DT-ST DVDRAM GSA-4167B for anyone who’s interested.