Getting started... what drive/which media?



Totally newbie here, going to buy my first drive. Have read and lurked so I’m thinking LG GSA-4163B, but I also know Plextor and Ben Q are good drives. So I guess my questions is not really about speed but more about success (fewer coasters). Is there a chart or thread that lists drives and success ratios with varios brands of media? Keep in mind that I’m in the USA, and prefer to buy my media locally at a COMPUSA, Staples, or OD unless there’s a better deal online.

With regard to drives, it’s been suggested that I should go for a dual-layer drive (IDE) but then I’ve also heard that dual layer might go away. Any opinions?

With regard to software, I’ve used Nero Burning Rom 5.5 for CDs and had much more success with it than Roxio, so I think I’d like to stick with Nero (v.6.x?). Is that a good idea?

Also, I’m assuming that DVD Shrink is a program I’ll need to get and learn, are there any others that I should be downloading?

Thanks in advance for the help and advice!


Your choice of what you feel are the best drives is interesting. I would choose NEC 3500 and I would stick with TY media, -R, if you want trouble free burning. Actually, if you have a decent drive, NEC, Pioneer, or BenQ, and you stick with TY from you should never have any trouble.


Just my opinion, but I’ve been on here for a while now, and I’ve seen lots of issues with LG drives talked about…I also had an old LG that I hated and hence already hold a grudge, so I’m probably biased, but that’s my $.02 Personally, I would go(and did go) with the BenQ DW1620. Good drive all around, well supported firmware, and makes GREAT backups when you use decent media. As for which media, don’t buy the “made in Taiwan”…Buy the “Made in Japan,” preferably TYs, Fujis, or Maxells. If you’re interested in the Benq, lurk in the BenQ/Phillips forum a bit–there’s plenty of input as to which media to go with…Good luck.


there is probably not one best drive. The benq or the 3500 would both be good choices. Of the beter drives, each is going to have it’s weak and strong points but any of them will generally do the job just fine.
As far as media locally from the major retailers, sony fuji and maxell have all been on sale a lot latley and use some prety good media. The going price when on sale is 10$ per 25 disks (or less) at several stores. Try reading some of the threads in the bargain basment for more specific information on these medias.
My personal top choice would be maxell 4x+r (almost always ricohjpnr01) which will burn exelent at 8x in the 3500 and some other drives. Office depot had them for 5$ per 15 last week and has ran them on sale a few times recentlly.



I have two NEC 3500’s and both are excellent burners - when used with good quality medias such as Ritek, Taiyo Yuden, Verbatim or Maxell - and I find that the 8x -R’s in these medias do very well with no coasters and great movie copies-

The 3500 is becoming harder to find - but is out there if you look at for them online at good prices-

Great online vendor with great prices for medias is and -

Happy Burnin’




Sounds like the NEC 3500A is the “safe” way to go right now. Like I said earlier, I’m a total newbie with DVDs, so I’d rather spend $10 more and get something that works than get some no-name generic drive or re-badged junker. That was one of the reasons I mentioned LG, and I thought Plextor was the holy grail for burners, but BenQ seems to be more popular. The NEC sounds solid, safe, and apparently firmware support is good?

One of my reasons for asking all the redundant questions is that friend of mine backed up a movie for me, and it worked on one DVD (Sony) and didn’t work (freezes then goes) on a Toshiba. I didn’t know if it was media related or whether the DVD player was fussy about home made DVDs. Both are less than a year old, but both are basically low-end (under $75) players. Could of also been the software although he said he used Shrink.

Is there a really great DVD player for around $100 that I should look for, or should I basically he happy with whatever works? The Sony has regular RCAs, S-VHS and Component connections and so does the Toshiba.

Somewhat unrelated, but since you’re a burn-doctor :slight_smile: can you tell me if I had DTV with TIVO or a Cable DVR… could you record that to a DVD?

Thanks again for the advice.



The Philips DVP 642 is a great low cost, play anything, player. Sells for aroung $70.


Price doesn’t always have much of a relation on what a player will play. The cheapo apex players have a good reputation for playing lots of stuff. you can look here to get an idea of what various players will play.
(I seem to be having a problem going to thier site, perhaps it’s down but go to and look for dvd players on the left of the screen)
Some players can be fussy with recorded disks, some may just not like a certain brand. If the burn is marginal in quality (reguardless of the quality of the disk) some players might play it where others will not, even if the players are compatible with the media. If you get a good burner (3500 is a good choice if that is what you have decided on), good media, bit set your +r disks and scan with cdspeed to make sure the burns are good, you should not have any problems with most dvd players and recorded disks.
I don’t have a tivo so I’m not really farmiliar with them, but if it is capable of sending a signal to a tv, then a capture card is capable of capturing the video so you can burn to dvd. You just have to have the right hardware and hookups. It’s basically the same principle of running your vcr to the computer to convert vhs tapes to dvd.


Just out of curiosity guyz, is there any technical advantage/disadvantage for choosing the NEC 3520A over the NEC3500? The 3500 seems to be harder to find and NewEgg has the 3520 for only $62.99 shipped fedex today only.

Is this a “newer” drive, and is there firmware support for it? Unless I hear some negatives, I think I’ll make the plunge today.




From all of what I’ve been reading on these and other forums - the 3520 is physically a departure from the 3500 (read - maybe cheaper) and the problems are really flying around-

The 3500 has proven over time (came out in August 2004) and quanity to be a very good burner-

If I was looking for a proven burner with a lot of support in these forums my choice would be (and was) the 3500 while you can still find them - (try a search in



Thanks for the info mike (even though it was intended for someone else). I hve been wondering about the 3520 and how it compared to the 3500.


Hey ripit…

I’m surprised you haven’t seen this one yet or you Mike.



Well, I took the consensus advice and ordered the bare bones NEC 3500A. Mark I has them in stock. Now I’ll have to do some research on which media will be best suited for this particular drive.

BTW, I’ve thought about rigging this drive up in a USB housing, but have read that it performs much better via IDE so I think it’ll go inside one of my PCs, probably the dual AMD Tyan Tiger that I’m about to rebuild.

Anyone want to suggest what software I should be downloading? I’m assuming Shrink, and will get a Nero 6.0 CD… but what else do I need?

Oh yeah… one last thing, is it worthwhile to to use/install hacked firmware for the drive and if so, what are the main benefits?

I will go over and lurk in the NEC section :slight_smile: too.



Hey Mike…

I hope your not paying anymore than $68.00 for one and that’s counting shipping. If you haven’t check I see that you’ve heard from BigMike and you don’t want to get us two going on media. Unless you want to laugh your ass off. Bottom line is I’ve had perfect luck with +R media and he’s just the opposite cuz he’s such a negative guy. Just do some searches here on the site in regards to the types of standalone units you have and give it a whirl. With the +R you can always set the Book typr to DVD-Rom and defeat most compatability issues. As for Hacked firmware, I and for once, even Mike will agree to just wait a while and see how it behaves with the stock firmware in it for you. I believe the stck will already burn TY’s 02 at 16X. Dee and Liggy have done a fabulous job at creating these new F/W’s with a lot of great success stories, but you can see it for yourself in the NEC forum. Just remember that it will void your warranty and it’s done at YOUR own risk. Hope this helps and welcome to the forum. Stay with the Nero, Shrink and DVD Decrypter and you’ll have pretty much all you’ll need.




Thanks for the welcome. Looks like a sane :rolleyes: bunch here. Yeah, I would’ve bought from NewEgg but they only had the 3520’s in stock, no ETA for the the 3500A. I paid $68+7.76 shipping at MarkOne which wasn’t so bad. I’ve bought plenty from NewEgg and know they have some great prices.

Thanks for the advice on the firmware. And with regard to media and compatability, I’ll have to study some threads.

BTW, is burning a DVD with say Nero 6.x relatively intuitive or is there a step-by-step FAQ that gives you the skinny on when you’ll need DVD Decrypter or Shrink, or both?

I appreciate all this feedback :bow:.




Some good media for the 3500= Ritek, Taiyo Yuden - good places to buy are and for the direct from manufacturer stuff - Verbatim and Maxell for the buy in your local store stuff (Best Buy, Office Depot, Staples, etc)-

I personally use the 8x -R’s in these brands for both my 3500’s and have not thrown one coaster yet-

See signature below for my softwares-



Burning with nero 6.??? is very easy but there are a few things. First, if you are copying a comercial pressed dvd-9 disk like a normal movie, you have to use nero recode (included in the package) so that it compresses the movie to fit. You cannot just copy it with nero burning rom. Here is a guide for recode
You can skip steps 5 and 6 if you want to copy the entire disk (just ckick next)
And here is the link to look up dvd player compatibility that I couldn’t link to earlier.
Another thing to be aware of about nero (or clone dvd or or record now or any of several other programs). They cannot copy copy protected dvd so you will get an error message. You have to either rip the movie to your hard drive using smart ripper or dvd decryptor or run anydvd. Smart ripper and dvd decryptor will copy the movie to your hard drive and remove the copy guard. You can just treat the folder that they create as if it were the dvd when you run nero. A much nicer option is anydvd that just runs in the background and removes the copy gurad so you can deal with the dvd directly in nero without having to rip it first but its not free like smart ripper and dvd decryptor.
Fyi sportfish I did read that thread a long time ago but cannot really remember what was said and it looks like the numbers in the poll have changed a little too since then.


If you want low cost and reliable media where you don’t need the middleman mark-up, I can recommend Ritek G05, Ritek R03, Prodisc S03, and Ricoh W11 as well as those mentioned above.


Hey ripit…Fyi sportfish I did read that thread a long time ago but cannot really remember what was said and it looks like the numbers in the poll have changed a little too since then.I believe what I posted here is an updated list, so it just goes to show that the NEC’s are still pretty much liked. I will have to say though, the next time I can get some of BigMikes extra money:bigsmile: , I wouldn’t mind trying a 1620 BenQ. And just an F.Y.I. for you and BigMike, the brace came off yesterday.:bigsmile: :bigsmile: :bigsmile: :bigsmile: :bigsmile: He said to use it just when walking now so I be liken that. But back to topic, as for media, bigmike and ripit have steared you well. Although I’ll throw in the Fuji +8R’s MADE IN JAPAN’s as winner at times at Best Buy. In fact they do have them on sale this week for $9.99 for a 25 tub. But if you keep your eye’s open and we al get real lucky again, they’l screw up again and have them for $3.99 per 25. I think I got 500 on that deal.:bigsmile: BTW these are TY’s T02’s. Also if you can find TDK’s that say Made in Japan, their either TY’s or Ricoh’s. Either way very good media.



So sportfish, I take it the back is doing alright if they took off the brace (all things considered)? Last I knew you were still having a lot a swelling.