State of Optical media and writers: March of 2015

I’m curious how the long term members here assess the current situation in optical drives and media.

I haven’t been keeping up with DVD burners very well. I pretty much lost interest when reasonably priced Blu-ray drives starting showing up, but have tried to read a few threads here and there regarding current DVD burners. There don’t seem to be any outstanding DVD burners, but all the ones from major brands like Lite-on, LG and Samsung do well enough for most purposes. If there is one that is heads above the rest, like the old Optiarc 7200A/S, this would be good to know when advising people coming into the site.

We seem to be down to only two manufacturers in full sized Blu-ray burners. LG and Pioneer are still making good drives, but everyone else seems to have abandoned this market. Is this definitely true, that they are the only two left? Rebadged drives don’t count. Is there a slim BD writer worth considering? Again, this would help with questions from newcomers.

On to DVD media. I realize that everyone is complaining that the new versions of Taiyo Yuden don’t seem to be the same quality as the old. Not something I’ve tested, since I am still burning through my 2006-2007 stock of TY 8x +R discs, though I’m down to burning only one or two DVD’s per month these days. We should be glad there is any TY available the way things are going.

We’ve known about the “Life Series” CMC DVD’s under the Verbatim brand for some time. I recently read about Verbatim selling Ritek discs with the same packaging as their own discs, just minus the AZO on the label. This is a very nasty little trick from Verbatim and something to be aware of when purchasing.

FTI/Falcon? Never burned their DVD’s, but I assume they are still good?

Anything else worth considering?

Blu-ray media hasn’t changed much. Panasonic, FTI/Falcon and Verbatim have been working for most people, though there are still lots of warnings on various forums to avoid the LTH Verbatim. I still won’t touch Ritek and Philips BD media.

The Melody INFOME-R30/40 discs were all the rage for a while. Those holding up?

Any thoughts/comments/raspberries welcomed.

I bought as much of the older Azo media as I could get back when it was apparent that they were switching to CMC and making substandard disks for the same prices. I also bought a lot of the UAE made stuff as I believe it is made by Falcon, works great, excellent quality. I have a LG combo BD/HD DVD reader burner, the GGW-H20L that I’ll never get rid of because I have a bunch of both types of HD movies.
I have a BenQ 1655 I use mostly to test with and then a 7263, 7260, H22N, and a Samsung S203.
I used to have plenty of toy money and really enjoyed buying the latest greatest burner and seeing if it was better then my last latest and greatest burner like a lot of us here.
My favorites were my NEC 2500, BenQ series from 1620 to 1655, and the 7260 series drives.
I’d have to say the 2500 and 1655 were my top favorites as at the time they had the best quality burns, and the BenQ learned as it burned and improved itself over time and had awesome support till LiteOn bought them out.
I don’t keep track anymore either, media has gone up and is mostly very poor quality, and I have media players and big drives to hold all my HD video captures so don’t need to constantly burn disks.
I have a full tower to hold everything but I could probably pare down to maybe 4 drives and really only 3 if I just wanted a good DVD burner, a good BD burner, and my testing drive.
Need to get some good BD blanks sometime but toy budget for things like blank media is non existent right now:(
Only burned maybe 5 BD disks with the H20 because media is too expensive till recently.

My Optiarc AD-5280S (1st generation) drives seem to be about as good as my AD-7200A/S on common CD-R & DVD±R. But some people did have dodgy results from some 2nd generation drives. Discontinued of course, but there are still some new drives around.

I haven’t actually used anything more recent myself. Among current drives the Lite-On iHAS WU looks like the best all-rounder (more of an Optiarc than Lite-On). The Samsung SH-224 also looks quite good, if you overlook the PIF it seems to deposit at every recalibration point.

Given the price of drives now (~£12-15), I would recommend getting two drives - the WU and a Mediatek-based drive for scanning & reading damaged discs (especially audio CDs). If I could find one I would get an iHAS E, if not get the Samsung. (Maybe all three - the Samsung might be the better CD-R writer.)

As far as slim drives go, I am very impressed by the Samsung SE-208DB I bought last year (internal also available). As an all-round performer it is very good, not that far behind my SH-S202/3 drives!

But (and it is a big one) there is a new version which I had briefly and was not as good. The model number for both is identical (SE-208DB), but fortunately Samsung mentions the firmware on the label (original=TSxx, newer=MFxx). However even the MF version is not that bad, I’ve used for worse.

Among Blu-ray drives, it looks like a 2.5 horse race - Samsung still make slim drives (SN/SE-506xx). They are the only drives left which can scan, but the latest C model has issues writing BD-R at certain speeds.

The Teac BD-W512GSA is worth a mention. It is just a rebadged Lite-On iHBS, but was only released in 2013(?) and still appears to be readily available new in some countries.

That would be my first choice of Blu-ray writer, as I am always willing to compromise slightly on writing quality to have a drive which scans well. Failing that it’s just LG & Pioneer - I would probably choose the BDR-209 over the LG.

Dartman, the Verbatim BD-R aren’t too expensive at Amazon. You might want to get a cakebox next time you are ordering something else, and get the total over $35, so you can get free shipping.

Ibex, good to know on the Samsung SE-208DB, but it seems to be DVD only. I occasionally run into people using laptops that want a slim external drive for reading Blu-ray. Mostly to rip I think, but burning wouldn’t hurt to have. I’ve recommended getting an external Vantec enclosure and a Pioneer internal drive, or one of the LG external full sized Blu-ray burners, but neither option is cheap, and neither is very esthetically pleasing for those hunting for slim drives. I was thinking there must be a USB 3 powered option by now amongst the slim BD drives that is worthwhile.

Ah, you added a bit to your reply. I haven’t heard much about the Samsung slim drives.

Looking at the selection at Newegg, Pioneer has a slim, USB 3.0 Blu-ray burner, the BDR-XD05B. Hmm, a clamshell type loading system too. Any opinions?

I’ve not found the need to go Blu-ray - the capacity is not that exciting compared to an external HD - after the format battle, it seems like too little, too late - the future belongs to streaming.

For DVDs, I normally buy Verbatim MCC004. The quality varies a lot (send them back if they’re too bad), but there are still some good ones being made. Overall I have had more luck with Moser Baer than CMC, and the printable discs have been less variable than non-printable.

This is a Verbatim non-printable MCC004 from 2x25 spindle packs I purchased in January 2015 from Amazon (made by CMC in Taiwan, spring 2014 batch, written at 8x on a Pioneer BDR-S06XLB). It is actually one of the worst discs of the 30-40 I have used so far- most have been ~0.8 PIE average & <500 PIF total (written in various drives at 8-16x).

One trend I have noticed over the last 5-6+ years (with both MCC & Taiyo Yuden) is that the PIF graph often looks worse than it actually is. Often the PIF errors are spread more evenly across the disc than in the old days, which can give the impression of near-continuous level 1 failures (a sign of a very poor disc or writer, whether CD-R or DVD±R). But the PIF total may be quite good (typically 1000-1500). Personally I would prefer a disc with 1000 PIFs scattered evenly than one with 500+ clustered in one spot - you can argue a disc is only as good as its worst defect.

This is a good example, and more typical of what I expect from MCC004 these days (100pk spindle, purchased December 2013, made by Moser Baer in India, 2013 batch, written at 16x on a Pioneer DVR-216L).

I still use CD-R regularly. For my master copies I normally buy Taiyo Yuden or Falcon (TDK ATIP).

For everyday copies I use Ritek CD-R, but the brand is very important quality-wise. Maxell or Traxdata branded printable have been consistently good over the last 6 years (unlike the non-printable Maxell & TDK). I have not had degradation issues with any modern phthalocyanine Ritek CD-R (including the 12 year old ones which are regularly kept in a hot car).

I am relatively new to Blu-ray and the choice of BD-R in this country (UK) is terrible - almost everything is CMC or Ritek.

Panasonic & Falcon (with TDK MID) are expensive and hard to find. And Verbatim BD-R with a Verbatim MID (look for MABL on the label) are only available in jewel cases at a high price (possibly the non-retail spindles as well?). Digistor was the only branded source of Falcon-made TDK, but these days they will be CMC (or worse?). I cannot find any Infomedia BD-R in this country.

Of the discs which are widely available here in the UK, I would recommend Verbatim Datalife-branded BD-R. They are inexpensive and so far appear to have always been CMC BA3/5 discs. Other brands, such as TDK, use Ritek, Philips or Moser Baer MIDs as well. Also, Verbatim seem to be getting the better quality batches from CMC.

I tend to use BD-RE more than BD-R. They are mostly a mixture of Verbatim-branded discs with a Verbatim MID (jewel cases, CMC-made) and CMC MID (10pk spindles). There is very little difference between them. Both have been perfectly reliable (both in terms of writability & data retention), have excellent hard-coating and even scan better than most BD-R. I also have a few TDK branded CMC which are also fine (although scan noticeably worse then the Verbatim-branded ones). And a couple of Verbatim dual-layer BD-RE (TDK MID, made by CMC?) imported from Japan, which again have been flawless.

Long-term data retention has never been a problem for me with any rewritable optical disc - CD-RW, DVD+RW or DVD-RAM. My decade-old DVD+RW & DVD-RAM backups are still perfectly readable, as were some photos left on CD-RW. As the Verbatim CMC BD-RE in spindles are only slightly more expensive than BD-R, I use those for medium-term storage.

Ah, you added a bit to your reply. I haven’t heard much about the Samsung slim drives.[/QUOTE]
Sorry, I’m very slow these days (blurred vision & poor cognitive function). :o:flower:

@Kerry: From the scans posted by users such as jadburner and anywhere, I’d say most of Pioneer’s BD drives are good no matter what the size. Super slim, slim, or HH, slot loading or tray… The folks at Pioneer seem to have it down to a science if you need to burn to BD media.

I currently do my BD-R burning with an LG BH14NS40 and quality scanning with a iHBS112. I have recently wondered if the iHBS112 quit functioning, then what my choices for BD quality scanning would be. A while back there were clones still available from ASUS BW-12BIST (not the BW-12BISTa version) and maybe a Plextor clone. If you wanted to buy a new BD-R with abilty to do BD-R quality scanning, then what choices are currently available?

[QUOTE=texasjackson;2749053]If you wanted to buy a new BD-R with abilty to do BD-R quality scanning, then what choices are currently available?[/QUOTE]
The only consumer drives currently in production which can scan are the Samsung SN/SE-506 series. These are slim drives and they cannot report jitter.

There is another drive which might still be in production - the Pioneer BDR-PR1 series. These officially support scanning, but are marketed as an ‘archival’ drive and are very expensive.

The Samsung SN/SE-506 series are external drives? So no new internal BD drives on the market that support quality scanning?

[QUOTE=texasjackson;2749061]The Samsung SN/SE-506 series are external drives? So no new internal BD drives on the market that support quality scanning?[/QUOTE]

Correct. Partially.

They are slim drives. The SN is internal, the SE is external.

So no new half-height (regular) internal drives.

[QUOTE=Kerry56;2748987]I’m curious how the long term members here assess the current situation in optical drives and media.

I haven’t been keeping up with DVD burners very well.[/QUOTE]

There are probably a lot of long term members here just like you. People who have been here a long time probably followed an evolution similar to mine.

  1. Bought one DVD burner in the early 2000s for a couple hundred bucks and kept that burner for a few years.
  2. Bought another DVD burner when double layer burners became widely available around 2004 or so.
  3. Went crazy in 2006 - 2007 buying DVD drives and media because they were cheap.
  4. Bought a Blu-ray burner around 2009.
  5. Now, in 2015, use Netflix and Hulu for streaming, burn one DVD/Blu-ray per month if that, and are reminded of how much more money they’d have now if they didn’t have a drawer full of media that they overbought and a cabinet full of DVD burners that they overbought.

Like you, I don’t keep up with DVD drives very well. In fact, I don’t really keep up with optical drives. There’s no need to keep up to date on media if your old, dusty drawer is already full of media that is known to work well. There’s no need to keep up to date on DVD burners if your old, dusty cabinet is full of them and they all do the job well.

And yes, I have surround sound equipment and am aware of how much better the picture quality and lossless sound quality is on a Blu-ray disc. But it’s still a lot more convenient to just search a menu and click a button for Netflix/Hulu than it is to physically look through a non-wordsearchable cabinet, take a movie out, turn on the player, wait for the player to load, ‘next’ through all the previews, and when the movie is over, put the disc back in the box and file it alphabetically where you got it. For the slight hit in picture and sound quality I’d gladly take the added convenience and reduced clutter space.

It’s kind of a drag to read (above) that Lite-On no longer makes Blu-ray burners. If I had to declutter, had money to burn and wanted to consolidate all of my optical drive needs to two drives on one computer, I’d probably use a Pioneer Blu-ray burner to burn BD-R, DVD-R and CD-R, and a Lite-On iHBS112 to burn DVD+R, DVD+R DL (since last I checked Pioneer Blu-ray burners don’t do bitsetting), rip CD’s/DVD’s/Blu-rays and scan CD’s/DVD’s/Blu-rays.

But, like Dartman, I used to have a lot more toy money so, rather than consolidating, I use a different drive from the bloated, older collection depending on the task. Pioneer BDR-205 for BD-R burning. Lite-On iHES208 for Blu-ray scanning. One of the 5 NEC chipset Pioneer DVD burners for DVD burning. And one of the 5 BenQ DW1640’s for CD/DVD scanning.

@Some Random Guy

I believe many of us have similar issues with playing media from discs anymore. My solution, and the solution for many others, is to rip everything to hard drives and play movies from there. Easily searchable, very convenient, and you can remove trailers, menus, and prohibited actions quite easily when making your copy on the hdd. I use an HTPC in one room, and a WD TV Live hooked up to an external hard drive in the living room. I use the HTPC far more often.

But ripping takes time, decryption tools and an [I]optical drive[/I]! So there is still a place for optical drives even amongst those of us that aren’t following the exact path the movie studios want us to take when watching movies.

Streaming isn’t much of an option for me, as I live in the sticks and 6mbps is the maximum speed I can get now and for the foreseeable future. 6mbps works for streaming, but is not consistent with HD material, and can’t compare to local storage playback.

What is interesting is whether or not our current Blu-ray computer drives will be able to read the new Ultra HD Blu-ray format that is coming out soon. I very much doubt that they will, since new stand-alone players will be required. But I don’t know if that is due entirely to the new codecs used, or due to technical changes in the physical layout on the discs. Are they going to use existing XL discs, or something different?

And if they do require new computer drives, will anyone make them? It would be an interesting maneuver by the studios if they could convince the manufacturers not to make computer drives for the new 4k format. Or LG and Pioneer may decide there is no profit to be made there anyway. Who knows at this point?

What is interesting is whether or not our current Blu-ray computer drives will be able to read the new Ultra HD Blu-ray format that is coming out soon. I very much doubt that they will, since new stand-alone players will be required. But I don’t know if that is due entirely to the new codecs used, or due to technical changes in the physical layout on the discs. Are they going to use existing XL discs, or something different?
Ultra HD Blu-ray is a new data standard, so stand-alone players will need new decoding hardware/software. But I haven’t seen anything to suggest the discs will be anything other than existing Blu-ray. So in principle existing drives should be able to read the new discs (although they could try to prevent it, as with game console discs & ‘defective by design’ audio CDs).

The software side of things will be another matter. But DRM encryption is made to be broken. :iagree::bigsmile:

They have announced to use 33GB BD (1 layer) and 66GB discs (2 layer), that’s the only part which is really new. XL with 3 and 4 layers is long time available now and working well.
I doubt that the standard BD standalones available can be “updated” via firmware updates to make usage of the new XL discs anyway — the industry wants to sell new crap all the time…!
Besides, the HEVC support requires new hardware - the main reason why updates will and cannot come. :wink:

But you’re just reinforcing my point chef. I already mentioned that the stand alone players will need to be updated for the new codec or codecs being introduced in Ultra HD Blu-ray. H265 is definitely coming, but I don’t know if they plan to bring in more audio codecs or not. It would seem to be overkill at this point.

The uncertainty comes from the new 33gb and 66gb sized discs. Current XL discs are 100 and 128gb (though I’m uncertain if the 128gb ever made it to market). With the new sizes, the studios and their partners in manufacturing are free to manipulate the discs as they wish. They very well might make them incompatible with existing computer drives and I haven’t read anything that completely denies this option for them. No computer access would certainly put a kink in pirating the discs, though nothing will ever stop it completely.

I doubt the software player companies will have much sway in the matter either. Arcsoft has already left this market for unknown reasons. Corel/WinDVD don’t seem to put much emphasis on their player. That leaves Cyberlink as the only one who might fuss about it.

My personal opinion on this:
I still have plenty of great optical dvdwriters in very good condition (NEC 3500AG,3540 AG,ND 4551A,Pioneer DVR 109 to name a few :wink: )from the early to mid 2000 era to really care about the latest dvdwriters…:slight_smile:
As for media quality and scans,I stopped to care many years ago when I found out that some + 98% quality burn discs degraded much faster than other 93-95% resulted discs…@ that time,I had discs with dvd-rot to prove that…:frowning:
As for blu-ray drives,I bought my 1st 1,an LG BH08LS20 about 4-5 years ago,and it’s still working great,so no replacement needed YET… :wink:
About a year ago,I bought my 1st slim bluray-dvd burner for my laptop,a Samsung SE 506AB…it lasted hardly half a year,got my money refunded from the retail seller and replaced it with an Asus SBC-06D2X…so far ,so good ATM…:iagree: