Testing of DVDs

It is important to realise that the increasing writing speed of DVD-R discs puts more and more demands on the system. Let’s do some simple arithmetic. 1x for a DVD is 1.35 Mb/s, which is 9.2x the speed of a simple CD-ROM. So with 4 x DVD drive works the same way as with 36,8 x CD. Speeds are no longer childish!


Even with DMA mode, the processor is quite heavily involved in the reading process. The load on the system becomes higher during recording, here the bottlenecks appear, such as IDE interface working in PIO$ mode, a weak processor or a slow hard drive. So it is necessary to consider their influence in each level before cursing the drive and disks for failures in recording.

Another unnoticeable pitfall of this laser iceberg can be a little background software that will start the update or disk check procedure at the most inopportune time. So, before you write the discs, knock out everything you can.

The other day I needed to test a bunch of four-speed DVDs. It’s already clear to the hedgehog that with the current price of DVD-records the whole CD-population is doomed. Will last another year, and then to the margins of history. You can find the cheapest ones for a hryvnia, the expensive ones in a nice box are two hryvnias more expensive. A walk through the Radio Market showed that the prices of the same DVDs vary by 30% depending on the insolence of the sellers, but there’s nothing to be done about it – market relations.

Buying discs. Half asleep salesman with a wiped face casually tries to stick me with all the crap that he has. Offers for 6 hryvnia technological 4x DVD, stamped on native equipment Verbatim. I’ll take . Out of amazement he offers another Verbatim, in a slim box without an insert. I’ll take it again. A contented grin lost in a mustache. Let’s see who outsmarts who.

Total: 12 disks. It’s time to divide them into groups and take another close look. Although I made some conclusions while buying.

The first group – the “nudes” – without father and mother, which I took from the evil stepfather-seller, who put them all in a tuba on the pin. I wouldn’t buy them for myself for nothing. It’s crazy to save a couple of hryvnias, and then to screw up the recording and throw the disc in the trash. I’m not rich enough to buy cheap DVD-Rs. There were three “naked guys”. Dead Pale «noname», passed off to me as technological Verbatim, Mirex in pastel colors and matte blue LG.

The second group – “gray”. A disc labeled Verbatim (how everyone loves that word)!) and a black box with an unsightly disc from Princo. This combination does not bode well. At least my gut tells me so. And it Antokha (that is) has never failed me.

The third group – “wrappers”. The boxes are beautiful and the disks are neat. Sony in red, Digitex in blue, TDK with a pretty disheveled bespectacled dog, Memorex in yellow, Fujifilm in green and Mirex with Soviet-era MK60 audio cassettes in green.


The fourth group, or rather the leader by definition, is the Verbatim Digital Movie DVD-R in a huge transparent branded box. It’s almost five bucks, though.

As an impartial iron referee, the TEAS model DV-W58G with VH4S2 firmware was chosen. I liked this DVD-ROM burner right off the bat. Small, lightweight, but it has everything. Writes both “plus” and “minus”, DVD+R is 8x, DVD+RW is 4x, DVD-R is 4x and DVD-RW is 2x. I had only two complaints against it – access time of about 160 ms and low reading speeds of all sorts of DVD stuff. But for the test – just right. As the modern saying goes, “You don’t look for a Plexor from a Tick.”.

New methodology

Let’s go with a little female logic. If you don’t understand something, ask them. They will quickly prove to you that the probability of going out and meeting Bill Gates is 50% (meet or not meet). And don’t try to prove the opposite, otherwise you will meet with heavy kitchenware inevitably.

So we have two disks of each type from many thousands of batches like them. Practice shows that on average there are one or two good discs out of every 100, which will fail during recording. And for every 100 bad discs, there’s one or two that will burn without a problem. There is a 1-2% chance of making a mistake on the test results. Now multiply by 12 types of available DVD-Rs and you have a 12-24% error probability! If you have two disks of each type you can decrease it two times. But anyway it turns out that you will fail at least in one case! And how to distinguish this mishap from a really dead batch?

You have to learn to trust yourself, your gut. And if the disk you bought was glitchy, don’t try to justify it. No further relations with this brand in any case. Verified by . Not recorded – then the brand is unlucky. And to hell with objectivity, all the same from the point of view of modern philosophy is an abstraction.

Objectivity is needed in giving equal conditions to all DVD-Rs. We will have Windows 2000, Nero Burning ROM version 7 and a test utility CD-DVD Speed 2.01 from the accompanying set.

The first evaluation is intuitive – based on appearance and packaging. The second standard is to burn the disc and check it for errors. We compare estimates and make a final decision.


It’s impossible to hold back emotions when we look at such blanks, so we have to bash them tooth and nail. Take at least these “nudges” budget for 30-35 rubles. “Zhiguli” – “kopecks” rusty buy more profitable. You can at least scrap them. And disks screwed up way only to the dump.

Nero CD-DVD Speed

Here’s a white DVD-R, which I called noname. The layer of paint is uneven, as if in a hurry, and the disc is flimsy, it bends in the hands. Not a survivor, that’s for sure. I looked at the information on the disc in Nero CD-DVD Speed and was very surprised, because the label came out that it is Verbatim with code MSS 01R-G20. You’re not fooled by the mustache, are you??

Mirex blue color kind of even with pictures. It may survive, of course, but I do not guarantee it. High-speed DVD-Rs don’t live out of the box. The layer of paint applied is even and dense. I’m looking at the manufacturer. What is it??! Again Verbatim -MCC01RG20!


The third ragamuffin is a disc from LG. Matte finish, blue lettering. Looks pretty cheap. The disc itself is tougher than the previous ones. As it turned out, the disc is half a millimeter thicker than the others, mostly due to the increased thickness of the protective layer on top. On the work surface I noticed some small scratches and a strange kind of artifact. Looks like it won’t burn properly.

The “gray” discs do not inspire much confidence either. Here Verbatim the green one. Will Mitsubishi Chemical corporation spoil the brand and release in an unpacked slim box DVD-R disk of such coloring? No, of course not. On the top side is a thin layer of green paint on top of the mirror layer. Obviously, somewhere in semi-homemade conditions from technological discs of unknown manufacturer this Verbatim is made. See manufacturer’s code. Here it is! TYG01, made by Tayo Yuden. I’ve seen TY. If such a disc is hiding under another brand, it must be from a defective batch.

Princo – The disc is inexpressive, with an uneven layer of white paint on the surface. The brand got a bad reputation for writing very selectively depending on the drive. Among our acquaintances Princo is the most popular media, because it is very cheap and can be written comfortably at 1x speed. But on the 4x? I don’t think so. I am considering a box with an insert. It has a warning on the inside – do not remove, UV protection! What it means? Yes the fact that the DVD-R does not tolerate sunlight very well! According to the code, the maker of the disk is really Princo.

We will get acquainted with the main group alphabetically. First Digitex . The package insert is pretty blue. The DVD-R itself is more modestly decorated – blue lettering on a matte background. While I was looking at it, I almost cut my finger, it was like someone had sharpened the edge. In general, Digitex is said to have changed not only the design of inserts and discs, but also the factory-manufacturer. Indeed Nero showed that the producer code is OPTODISCR004. The potential of the disc is not bad.

Fujifilm – The green insert goes well with the gray box, but the grayness is unpleasant. You can feel it when you open the box. The design of the disc is very simple: on the mirrored surface there is a thin green inscription. The disk does not bend in my hands, and its edges do not cut my hands. I wouldn’t have bought it if I had seen it.

The next one –Memorex. The exterior coloring is distinctive – yellow and blue. This brand is well known and used to be a quality mark. Only the latest CD-R and CD-RW blanks shake that faith. Nevertheless, I expect good results from this disk. DVD-R has a simple design with matte finish on the mirror surface. Manufacturer’s code CMC MAG. AF1.

written minutes seconds

Russian branded disc Mirex You can’t confuse it with foreign ones. Inner rim is designed according to the Soviet standards. It combines the mysterious image with a refractive lens and clumsy design elements. It looks nice, my mom liked it. The disk itself is an exact copy of the “bare metal”. Judging by the numbers on the inner rim of the neighboring party. The code of the producer – Verbatim MSS 01RG20. How everybody loves this matrix!

Sony – Big name, nice red box, hard drive. The coating is thick matte. On the inner rim, a barcode! A great disk, it is not a shame to give such a friend. On the insert we also found a code – batch marking DMR47N2. The presence of such codes, coinciding with those set on the site of the manufacturer, is a sign of the authenticity of the disk and a guarantee of quality. Nero showed that the manufacturer’s code is SONY-04D1. Definitely native!

The last one in this group –TDK. The inside and outside of the insert is blue. Even the disc itself is light blue. I’ll leave it out of the pile with the others. At the very least, only in the box. As for the manufacturer’s code, it’s TYG01. Very suspicious. TDK usually has its own code.

Last group – Verbatim DigitalMovie. A gift version, by definition. Super box without the package, but you don’t need it. The disc itself is designed like a film tape. Nice and good-looking, neat. I will be very angry if such a DVD-R, and for such a reasonable price, turned out to be defective. I think the seller understood that too, so the excellent quality is guaranteed. Let’s look at the manufacturer’s code. I can’t believe it: the Verbatim MCC01RG20 again! So, don’t rely solely on the production code.

As you know, DVD-R is not the only recording format available, there’s also DVD+R. Does it make sense to buy DVD-R discs, will they be useless in a year or two?? Of course not. I mean, they won’t. The format is popular and currently supported by a legion of well known manufacturers. And even if it loses a bit to DVD+R on one or two points, it doesn’t matter at all. In a few years all existing DVD standards will be irrevocably outdated just like CDs are now. More high capacity discs will appear and other wars will start and DVD-R will live out its life in backwards compatible devices.

It has long been observed that recording of discs depends largely on the software and the disc drive used to record them. For example, Plextor has a native recording software suite called PlexTools. TDK supplies the drive with software from Pinnacle – Instant CD/DVD. And the universal kits we all know, like Nero Burning ROM, have their own preferences for drives. So the result of a write may depend on the software version, the firmware version and the established relationship between the particular drive and the program. So before you buy any discs, find out what kind of blanks your drive has and if your writing software is particularly picky about the acceptable speed. Otherwise, it would have been impossible to write a really bad DVD-R at 4x speed.

Mirex out of the box

Testing by fire

Let’s start burning. Recordable capacity is 4.34 Gb, it includes both big files (movies) and a lot of small files (music). Naturally, all background programs were disabled and the scheduler was put to rest. The drive was connected as a Secondary Master. A write time or error was recorded. Then using Nero CD-DVD Speed took the average reading speed and the presence of uncorrectable errors. It’s clear? Let’s go!

And again, everything went alphabetically. The DVD-R from Digitex came through at 4x speed, no problems, in 14 min 58 secs. Further testing showed no errors and the average write speed was 4.61 x. There are eight little speed bumps on the graph.

reading speed

The disk from Fujifilm also turned out well and was written in 14 minutes 56 seconds, with an average reading speed of -4.54x. The graphics was much worse than Digitex, towards the end it was wobbling and the speed dropped down noticeably.

The LG DVD behaved strangely. First it was burned in about 15 min and 5 sec with no problems, but after the first read it was no longer recognized. I had probably found some artifact on the work surface. Well, if it didn’t work, that’s not the case. The disk goes to the fine list.

Memorex burned in 14 min 58 sec. No errors. The reading graph up to 4 GB is just perfect, but after there is a sharp drop in performance, the speed has dropped from 6x to Zx. By the way, the graph was falling smoothly, without jumps. And this is also a sign of quality. The average reading speed is 4.58x.

Is it possible to trust the information about the disk and on the basis of this information to decide whether to buy or not? As practice has shown – you can not. Let’s look at the test results in the article. Mirex, no-name and Verbatim Digital-Movie disks give Verbatim as the manufacturer and MSS 01RG20 as the code. And the test results are strikingly different. From super quality on Digital-Movie to fatal for the system errors on no-name. For a disk it means a lot, what kind of coating is applied on top of a mirror and under what conditions it was stored and transported.

In our case we can see only clear signs of the TYG01 marks, which in any case indicate a quite mediocre quality of the stocks. Accordingly, more attention should be paid to the markings of the product type on the box, which can be compared with those given on the manufacturer’s website. In our case, Sony marked DMR47N2, Memorex – M4DR47B, TDK – DVD-R47EB, Digitex -DVD-R47B4-J1, More food for thought – branded blanks, carefully packed in boxes and extra plastic bags, are more expensive, sometimes significantly more expensive than nonima, but in such a case, as blanks, it is better to splurge. Sometimes the information recorded on a CD is worth more than a thousand CDs, even if you don’t know it at the time of recording. I mean, some files might suddenly be needed in a couple of years and most of the non-nome jumbo discs that are sold “off the peg” don’t have much chance of living up to that. So be reasonable and remember: a miser pays twice!.

The Mirex in the box was recorded in 14 minutes and 56 seconds. During the slicing process no glitches were observed. Further testing showed that the average reading speed is 4.66x. The graph is flat, with two subtle jumps.

Its naked counterpart, the Mirex without the box, was written in 15 minutes and 2 seconds. The reading chart showed a big speed dip at the 2Gb area, but it was fixed very fast. Toward the end there was a strong fluctuation in the graph, which at 400 megabytes from the finish ended in an incorrigible error. How much the box means sometimes!

Next is a technological shovel. At 17 percent write the computer froze up and the drive froze so badly that I had to eject the drive mechanically. Result – immediately sent to the penalties and a stigma on the mustachioed seller.

CD-DVD Speed

Princo recorded in 15 minutes exactly. The perfect reading schedule went a long way, up to 3.8 GB. Then a dip, then another one the size of the Mariana Trench, and that was it. An irreparable error. Looks like 4x is too much for Princo. Even on the 2 graphics would not get to the end, so my gut tells me.

Sony was recording for 15 minutes exactly. The result is a perfect reading graph with three subtle irregularities. The average reading speed is 4.68x. I liked the disk for a reason.


TDK CD in 14 min 57 sec. The reading graph is a real cardiogram of a heart attack patient. Not a single flat spot. But the overall speed gradually increased from the inner to the outer tracks. Average reading speed – 4.41x.

The disc, imitation Verbatim, gave me a writing error right in the middle of the slicing process. Nero spit it out and reported an error. The follow up reading test showed that recording was going smoothly up to 3.8gb, but after that it seemed to get slammed all of a sudden. What can you do? Welcome to the losers club.

Verbatim DigitalMovie. The recording time is 14 minutes and 57 seconds. The graph is perfectly straight, containing five tiny bounces. The average reading speed is 4.71 x, which is the best result. This is the real Verbatim!

Handing out carrots and sticks

Dear like-minded people! Let’s not be afraid to express our accumulated dissatisfaction. You bought some bad DVDs? So go to the seller and say all you think about him and his products. If we kick the sellers, they, in turn, will kick the suppliers and the suppliers will kick the manufacturers. We’ll see the quality of production will improve and the false products will disappear from the dealers’ market.

Let’s take a look at the resulting list of penalties. The technology no-name, LG, Mirex without box, fake Verbatim and Princo are announced as malicious non-writers. That is, a little over 41 percent of all discs on the market were found to be unusable! Terrible result.

I gave the rest of the participating discs a rating on a ten-point scale.

The Verbatim DigitalMovie showed the perfect balance between the original design and the high quality of recording. Gets a well-deserved top score. But the price of it, of course, is a bit steep.

I immediately liked the Sony, so I’m pleased to give this disc a solid “ten”.

The Mirex in the box also received the highest score. It’s nice that Russian products aren’t inferior to foreign foes. Although the design of the earmold could change.

Digitex is right behind the leaders with nine points. It’s literally nipping at my heels. I personally liked it, but the nasty test results fell a couple of tenths short of the lead.

Memorex received eight points, and for good reason. Design is a bit lame, and there is some mess on the external tracks. Although overall it’s pretty much okay.

Fujifilm gets seven points for the shaky graph throughout. No complaints to the recordings, of course. But I didn’t like him for nothing!

TDK gets six points. Like this. The quality of the record is a little bit worse than that of other successful recorders.


So, the conclusion is unambiguous and disappointing: there are no error-free tests. And when it comes to the choice of blanks, you have to rely on your gut. And if it is lame and logic overrides the silent voice of intuition, take with you your favorite wife, girlfriend, classmate, finally. And then your purchases will only make you happier.

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