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DVD-ROM Battle at 6X: Pioneer DVD-303S vs. Toshiba SD-M1212 PayPal Donations

DVD-ROM Battle at 6X: Pioneer DVD-303S vs. Toshiba SD-M1212 - DVD-ROM Performance Results

  July 7, 2000 Author: Tim Zakharov  

DVD-ROM Performance Results

Low-Level Measurements

 Optical Testbed I DVD Speed 99 - DVD-ROM Transfer Rate Details... 
DVD-ROM Transfer Rate - Average
Windows 98 SE using FAT 32
Toshiba SD-M1212 (ATA-33) - 4.34|
Pioneer DVD-303S (U-SCSI) - 4.27|
DVD-ROM Transfer Rate - Start
Windows 98 SE using FAT 32
Pioneer DVD-303S (U-SCSI) - 2.56|
Toshiba SD-M1212 (ATA-33) - 2.54|
DVD-ROM Transfer Rate - End
Windows 98 SE using FAT 32
Toshiba SD-M1212 (ATA-33) - 5.75|
Pioneer DVD-303S (U-SCSI) - 5.59|

Currently, the latest version of DVDSpeed99 has an incompatibility with certain drive models (the SD-M1212 among them) when running the seek tests. Because of this, we have elected to skip over the seek test scores for all drives until this issue is resolved in a later revision. Our main focus will be on transfer rates, to determine how closely each drive performs to its specs. As we can see, both drives yield very similar transfer rates. The Toshiba has a slight advantage, reaching 5.75X, while Pioneer's unit peaks at 5.59X with our test DVD. Neither drive reaches its 6X rating, though both come very close.

Looking at the CPU utilization scores (measured at 1X DVD speeds), we see the Pioneer with an astonishing 43%, while Toshiba's ATAPI drive averages 7%. In researching this huge discrepancy, I was informed by DVDSpeed99's author that this issue is specific to the 1.10 firmware revision of Pioneer's DVD-303S. Unfortunately, our Pioneer evaluation unit was returned before we could attempt any testing with other firmware revisions. Our testing with other DVD drives thus far has shown results more in line with the Toshiba, so perhaps there is an issue specific to Pioneer's 1.10 firmware.

Does the slight transfer rate advantage of the Toshiba, along with its apparent CPU utilization dominance affect the end result...watching a movie?

Subjective Playback Observations

Our subjective impressions are based on watching portions of two DVDs-Twister and The Matrix. We focus on two particular scenes. In Twister, we closely examine what we've coined the "wheat field fly-by" (scene 2). Specifically, we watch for any jerkiness in the camera panning as the scene rapidly approaches the moving vehicle driving swiftly through the wheat fields. In The Matrix, we focus on scene 15, the Morpheus/Neo Matchup. Again, we watch for the level of smoothness in rendering this fast-paced fighting scene.

Both drives performed outstandingly. Playback through WinDVD on our P3-450 testbed did not show any noticeable jerkiness. Color saturation and clarity were excellent on our 21" Sony 500PS monitor. Overall, both drives provide excellent movie playback capabilities. The Pioneer showed no signs of taxing CPU resources.



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