I thought it might be helpful to start a thread to list the differences between the Sony DRU-810A (with Sony’s firmware) and the drive whose hardware it uses, the BenQ DW1640 (using BenQ’s latest firmware). I realize that the Sony can be crossflashed to a DW1640, but please save that discussion for another thread. This is just about the Sony drive with Sony firmware vs. the BenQ with BenQ firmware.
The most obvious difference, of course, is price. As of today (early November), the Sony is available for around $80 after rebate, while the OEM version of the BenQ can be had for about $40. That gap is substantial, considering that the drives are identical internally except for their firmware. But I expect the Sony to be discounted in coming weeks, especially as the U.S. holiday season approaches, while the BenQ is probably near its low price point already. And the Sony’s availability is wider, especially for those who prefer to buy their drives from brick-and-mortar stores. There are also other differences, which I will begin to list below.
Here are some features of the Sony that are missing from the BenQ:
[li]Sony bundles better software with the DRU-810A, including Nero Burning ROM SE instead of just Nero Express. I have heard that the Nero package is a special version that only works with Sony burners, though. So if you crossflash the drive to a BenQ (or to the Plextor PX-740A), you may lose the ability to burn with the included software.
[/li][li]The Sony has a more attractive front bezel and comes with an extra black bezel. The BenQ only comes in either gray or black.
[/li][li]For the DAE-obsessed, Sony’s firmware supports overreading into the lead out of CD’s, while BenQ’s does not.
[/li][li]A disadvantageous “feature” of the Sony is that Turbo Boost (which enables 48x CD speeds) is off by default. The drive limits CD reading and recording to 40x unless Turbo Boost is enabled by holding in the eject button for 5 seconds after inserting the disc. I suspect this limitation was put in to reduce stress on the drive, though, so it’s not all bad. But it would be nice to be able to configure Turbo Boost through software.
[/li][li]The Sony comes with a $10 Sony Connect Cash Card for use at Sony’s online music store. I suspect many people who frequent this site “just say no” to DRM-controlled music, but this is a decent toss-in that helps make up the price difference.
Here are some things the BenQ provides that the Sony does not:
[li]Value for the money. As mentioned before, the DW1640 is priced much lower than the Sony. (At least, the OEM version is; the retail model is hard to find in the U.S., but as I understand it the only major additions in the retail version are a slightly nicer bezel and a slightly different software package.)
[/li][li]Starting with the BSKB firmware version, SolidBurn Technology is available to enable the BenQ to learn an optimal strategy for burning unknown media.
[/li][li]Also with BSKB and up, overspeed writing on certain DVD+R and DVD-R media is supported. The Sony lacks this feature as of firmware 1.0a, so it is more conservative and burns at or below the rated speed of the media.
[/li][li]Only recent BenQ drives can use BenQ’s QSuite utility, which enables the configuration of SolidBurn, OverSpeed, and WOPC, and also adds the QScan, Book Type Management, Test Write, and QVideo tools. (The Sony can perform many of the latter functions, including bitsetting, through its Nero software.)
[/li][li]BenQ releases firmware updates more frequently than Sony, which seems to be a bit behind the curve in the support department.
[/li][li]BenQ is not a mega-corporation whose music publishing arm was recently found to be “bundling” rootkit-like spyware in its copy-protected audio CDs. As for Sony… :a
SolidBurn and OverSpeed are significant advantages that the the DW1640 has over its Sony counterpart, and I hope that Sony sees fit to support those features in future firmware.
Obviously the drives have much more in common than they have differences, which is a good thing because the BenQ DW1640 is one of the best 16x DVD burners on the market.
There is one common deficiency, though: both drives appear to have problems with CD-RW writing quality, according to the reviews on this site. Has BenQ addressed this problem in their latest firmware?
I’m sure I missed a few differences, so please add any others you may find.