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UPDATE, February 22, 2005: We tested the BenQ DW1620A DVD±RW/R Drive with the new version of firmware - B7T9, and compared the results with those obtained with the previous firmware version side by side. Check out our update to learn what the advantages of the new firmware version for this solution are!

The subject of our today’s review is one of the most intriguing optical drives that have recently appeared in the market. It is a new drive from BenQ. Many developers of computer hardware at large and of optical disc drives in particular suffer or suffered in the past from the negative attitude of users towards a particular trademark. Sometimes this is a natural reaction to the release of a low-quality product that has disrupted the customers’ trust in the manufacturer, but sometimes it is an echo of the so-called “holy wars” when the customer is disdainful about a brand just because it’s not fashionable or trendy.

These are not very objective criteria to judge the value of a product by, don’t you agree? And even if a company has got its reputation marred by a bad product, that’s long past, and we shouldn’t stick to the past too much. Moreover, brands that used to ignore the customer feedback have long vanished from the market while the remaining companies are seriously working on each reported bug and defect. You can take the history of optical drives from Samsung and LG as an example.

BenQ didn’t escape this fate, either. Early optical disc drives from this manufacturer were, frankly speaking, far from perfect and thus couldn’t earn recognition among the users who turned to other brands instead. But current optical drives from BenQ have greatly improved in terms of read/write quality and have acquired some useful functions for checking out the burn quality. The company shows its care about the user – for example they issued an official firmware update that transformed the DW1600 model into the DW1620. It’s the latter that we’re going to review today.

Around the Internet forums the users’ reaction towards BenQ’s produce ranges from mildly positive to ecstatic. Their reports are confirmed by objective tests, too. By the way, the BenQ DW1620 is improving its speed formula with new firmware versions rather than with new drive models as it is the case with many other manufacturers. This fact helps to save a lot of your money.

Yes, BenQ’s 8xx series drives were dubious as concerned the write quality and didn’t like DVD-R discs (this latter fact is explicable, though; those devices were based on a chipset which had not been originally intended for the “minus” format), but featured an excellent DVD+R burn quality, a good error-correction system and mechanics. The spotted flaws seem to have been corrected in the 16xx series, so we may have a highly promising product that would offer serious competition to the current rulers on the optical Olympus. The functionality of the BenQ DW1620 model can rival that of Plextor’s drives of the latter series (but the Plextors cost twice more money). So, I guess I’ve warmed you up enough for this review and we can now move on to the investigated device proper.

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