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Teac CD-W516EB - Write/ReWrite Performance Results

  June 25, 2001 Author: Tim Zakharov  

Write/ReWrite Tests

CD-R Based Duplication

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Because we just switched from Easy CD Creator to Ahead Software's Nero 5.5x for our writing tests, we only have write results for four drives at present. Fortunately, we can compare the CD-W516EB to our current Leaderboard champ, Plextor's PX-W1610TA. The Plextor maintains a small, but consistent advantage in write times that translates into swifter duplication speeds of both audio and data CDs. Specifically, the Teac burns our 65-minute audio CD in 5:12 compared to the Plextor's 4:57; the 619 MB data CD burns in 5:30 vs. the Plextor's 5:17. The Teac thus lags by about 5% in writes. What accounts for this small deficit? According to Teac, something called Optimum Power Calibration.

Optimum Power Calibration, or OPC, is a drive's ability to adjust its writing laser's power to fit the needs of each individual disc. All media have an estimated value encoded in the lead-in area on the disc in a section called the ATIP (Absolute Time In Pregroove). Reading this value allows drives to roughly tune laser power. From there, the drive can test higher and lower settings in the Power Calibration Area (PCA) to further tune laser strength. Whereas most drives test once, the Teac tests three times during the OPC process in order to further fine-tune laser strength before writing begins. The end result, according to Teac, is a more accurate burn.

It is important to note where this 5% difference occurs. The Teac does indeed write at a full 16X. The OPC, however, occurs during the lead-in procedure. Hence, any additional time taken to complete a burn on the Teac can be localized to the lead-in process.

Reference: Running Optimum Power Control: Data Integrity in CD-Recording

CD-RW Based Duplication

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Though the CD-W516EB triple tests during Optimum Power Calibration with CD-RW media as well, write times weren't significantly slower than the Plextor's. Even so, the Teac remains the slowest rewriter of the bunch with a time of 8:07 for 619 MB. Competition from Ricoh (7:46) and AOpen (7:58) outdo both the Plextor and Teac during the burn portion of this test. However, since the Teac and Plextor are 40X readers, they can image the test disc more rapidly and thus edge the AOpen and Ricoh in overall duplication times.

CD-R Based Stress Tests

With our switch to Ahead Software's Nero 5.5x comes some changes to the SR CD-R based stress tests. Nero all but eliminates any chance of a buffer underrun with its intelligent use of hard drive caching and memory buffer. For our tests, we reduce both of these to their lowest possible value - 1 MB. Neither can be completely disabled, and for good reason. They help keep the burner's buffer full, thus preventing the dreaded buffer underrun. For drives with anti-coaster technology, Nero's buffers help keep BURN-Proof, JustLink, etc. inactive.

Even when burning at 16X speeds, the Teac's 1456 KB of usable buffer never comes close to emptying with processor-intensive tasks running in the background. Because of Nero's own buffers, the only way we can activate the Teac's BURN-Proof is by hitting Ctrl-Alt-Del to completely freeze the system. With no source data being fed to the Teac, the drive's buffer soon empties, kicking in BURN-Proof. After an extended length of time, we escape out of this scenario and watch as the bar graph of the Teac buffer fills back up to 95%. After the burn completes, that the data on our CD-R is fully readable. This confirms that the drive's BURN-Proof technology works as advertised.

It should be noted that not all CD burning software packages have the built-in buffers that Nero features. When using the Teac with such software, BURN-Proof may enable on occasion, especially during heavy system loads. As our tests show, the quality of the write will not be affected, but the burn process may take longer, depending on the number of pauses during the burn.

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InCD Formatting

Formatting a blank CD-RW in InCD takes nearly 13 minutes for the Teac. This keeps it within 5% of the AOpen and Plextor. Only Ricoh's unit significantly trails the pack with 16-minute formats.

InCD Packet-Writing Performance

Here the Teac edges by the rest of the competition with times just under 2:37. All drives in our comparison perform similarly in this test. Because packet-writing occurs on pre-formatted media and in a different recording standard, the write laser is simply calibrated from information encoded in the disc's ATIP. Hence, the slightly slower burning process that witnessed with the Teac in other write tests never arises.

InCD CD-RW Erasing

A full erase of our InCD-formatted disc takes almost 8:18. Though this leaves the Teac in last place, all drives again are grouped tightly in this measure.



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