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Nero CD-DVD Speed: Disk Quality Test

The last of our tests is concerned with checking the quality of DVD discs the Pioneer BDR-101A burns. I can’t do the same for the BD-RE because I don’t have information about the quality standards for Blu-ray discs. So, I have to limit this test to DVDs only.

Why do we perform this quality check? The manufacturer wants to sell more of its optical drives, but it’s only possible if the drives work well. Burning media is an important functionality aspect of such devices. Every manufacturer pays attention to this aspect, and most of them have achieved some progress improving the burn quality, yet there is still a chance that the drive you buy may disappoint you. That would be quite annoying, especially if writing DVDs was supposed to be the main job of the drive. An ordinary user doesn’t have an opportunity to check out the operating properties of a specific drive, but we can help you reduce the risk of your wasting your money by testing the drive in our labs.

As the final step in this test session, I will burn a few DVD discs of various formats in the tested drive and will check their quality. Of course, I can’t check the drive with all existing media, in all possible modes and at all supported speeds, but this test is anyway indicative of the burn quality the optical drive provides. I used Nero Burning Rom to record all the discs at their maximum rated speed. The quality of the recorded discs was verified in a Sony DW-G120A drive with MYL2 firmware. We use it to achieve comparable results from different test sessions, and this drive offers good hardware characteristics for that purpose. The discs were being read at a speed of 4x.

As for disc quality criteria, the ECMA standards for DVD-R/RW and DVD+R/RW media say that the total number of PI errors in 8 subsequent ECC blocks should not exceed 280. This is the first limiting value I will base my judgments upon. Then, an ECC block should not contain more than four irrecoverable PI errors (an irrecoverable PI error is referred to as PI Failure by the CD-DVD Speed utility).

DVD discs that have no more than 280 PI errors per eight ECC blocks and 4 PI failures per one ECC block should be considered acceptable-quality media. Besides these criteria, you should also note how the errors are distributed along the surface of the disc. It is the worst situation when the errors exceed the acceptable limit on the entire surface, but single and short-time spikes of errors are less dangerous.

Of course, the more discs are recorded with high quality, the better for the tested drive, but you should keep it in mind that besides the hardware properties of the drive, its firmware version has a big effect on the burn quality, too. Some problems can be solved by the manufacturer with firmware updates.

This test was performed with the drive’s native firmware. The Pioneer BDR-101A having lower speed characteristics in comparison with regular DVD drives, the actual speed the disc was burned at is indicated in brackets.

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