Strange Sony Problem On Two Drives

About a month ago I bought some Memorex DVD-R x16 and I put a disc into my DRU-510A (with most recent firmware). It failed to burn the first disc and then four more. I tried it in my Sony laptop with a DW-D56A and got the same results with multiple attempts so I gave up and figured them for a bad batch. I bought more Memorex (I’ve always had good luck with them despite this incident) and again the new discs didn’t work. I tried my more expensive TDK discs without issue so I figured there must be some sort of incompatibility with Memorex (though I’m not sure why it happened suddenly). It then occurs to me that I have a bigger problem because even my expensive discs are starting to throw coasters and my lead-in and lead-out write times are way too long. Now both drives are starting to get worse and I’m having trouble believing they are both just failing out of the blue. I’m using Nero 6 to burn and I don’t have an alternative program to try on either rig. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Memorex is crap. Their disc MID’s are incredibly variable, including RiGarbage. TDK, as of late, has been crap as well, outsourcing to CMC MAG MID’s.

Do you know if the MID’s changed between your batches of workable and unworkable? You might need to update the firmware to include the write strategies for whatever new third-class media Memorex and TDK are distributing these days.

The problem here is the media - sort of - because it really doesn’t have anything to do with the media manufacturer. It is completely Sony’s fault. The 510a is a 4x maximum drive, and Sony hasn’t put out a firmware update for the 510a dvd burner since 4x media days. I could not even get reliable burns from this drive using 8x media, never mind 16x. I complained to Sony ad nauseum about this, but to no avail. So, I bought a new drive - and it surely wasn’t a Sony! My Sony 510a is in pristine condition - sitting in a box. My Benq drives work great and burn anything I throw at them. I still recommend Benq dw1650’s to folks - if you can find them somewhere.
The 510a is the last dvd burner actually made by Sony (they just slap their name on someone else’s burners these days - for more money, of course), so I don’t think there is even any chance of cross-flashing it to an oem manufacturer to apply updated firmware.
Your laptop drive is also apparently a 4x burner (a Dell laptop, I expect?), so I expect you have the same media incompatibility problem with it. I’ve read somewhere that it is actually a Lite-On drive, so maybe some newer firmware is available that supports newer media types and speeds. You’ll have to search around or contact Dell for help maybe. Good luck.

Well it sounds like I’m not the only one with this kind of issue. I know it’s an older drive, but this is the first real issue I’ve had with it. I need to upgrade (along with most everything else). As for my laptop, it’s actually a Sony VGN-A290 with an 8x dual layer burner but from the sound of it, I’ve chosen crappy media anyway. Thanks for the help! Great forum!

The only other thought is to make sure you are running the most current firmware in your laptop drive. The following link seems to point at your laptop/drive firmware - but please doublecheck to make sure it is correct - you do not want to load an incorrect firmware as it can lead to disastrous problems.
I didn’t see a list of recommended media for this drive, so you might contact Sony and ask them for the list of media the firmware in your drive supports. If you cannot get a list of specifically supported media for your drive, I suggest you try some brand name 8x media in your Sony drive (maybe Verbatim or TY) - and burn it at 4x max speed.

By the way - take comments about media with a grain of salt - I use TDK/CMC media all the time with few problems. The issue here is compatibility between your drive’s firmware (where the write strategy for media lives) vs. the media you are trying to burn. The issue with some brand names of media is you never know what you are getting - because they contract out for the actual media and just slap their brand name on it - kind of like Sony dvd burners these days. That is the problem with Memorex - you never know what it actually is until you open the package and start using it.
The media I used in my Sony 510a that was most reliable was Ritek dvd-r 4x media (G04) - but it isn’t around anywhere that I am aware of. The one time I tried Ritek 8x media (G05) the drive wanted no part of it. That very same stack of Ritek 8x media burned with no problems in my replacement drive (a Benq 1620), confirming that the problem was the absence of a specific write strategy for that media in my Sony 510a.
These days, many drive manufacturers include a software driver that adjusts the write strategy for media that is not already programmed in the drive firmware, and stores it in the drive. Hopefully that technology will go a long way towards eliminating these constant firmware update needs for new formulations and speeds of media.