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Most folks aren’t prepared to choose sides in the battle between Blu-ray and HD DVD—and who can blame ’em, given the scarcity of HD content and the exorbitant cost of drives and media. But for the gotta-have-it-now early adopters, Blu-ray remains the only next-gen disc you can burn. The HD DVD camp has yet to release a burner, while Sony’s BWU-100A marks the third Blu-ray burner we’ve reviewed in the last six months. And with each new model, we’re seeing improvements.
The BWU-100A is the nicest-looking HD optical drive we’ve tested, with a sleek, stylish bezel that would do right by any case faceplate. It’s also the least expensive: The comparably spec’d Plextor PX-B900A we reviewed in our December 2006 issue is still priced at a grand; the BWU-100A costs $750. Granted, that’s still a pretty penny for a product of dubious usefulness.
And, sadly, nothing about this drive’s performance makes it any more compelling than the others we’ve reviewed. Like the Plextor and IO Data drives we tested in December (both were actually rebadged versions of the same Panasonic model), the BWU-100A reads and writes to CD, DVD, and Blu-ray media (both single- and double-layer) at theoretical maximum speeds of 24x, 8x, and 2x, respectively. In reality, the BWU-100A filled a single-layer DVD+R in 9:08 (min:sec), with an average write speed of 6.78x. And using the bundled CyberLink Power2Go burning software, we filled a 22.5GB BD-R disc in 42:19. It took an hour and 33 minutes to burn the same data to rewritable media.
So if you’ve got time to kill or want to author your own HD video discs, Sony’s BWU-100A is the best bargain we’ve tested, but if you’re primarily interested in convenient, large-capacity data storage, you’re far better off with an external hard drive.
Looks great! Least expensive of all the HD optical drives we've tested! Good speeds.
Speeds don't stand out when compared to other HD optical drives.
|DVD Write Speed Average||6.78x||6.76x||6.78x|
|DVD Read Speed Average||6.17x||6.15x||6.17x|
|Access Time (Random/Full)||160ms/317ms||157ms/315ms||160ms/318ms|
|CPU Utilization (8x)||34%||47%||31%|
|Time to Burn 22.5GB to BD-R (Min:Sec)||42:19||43:12||42:26|
|Time to Burn 22.5GB to BD-R (Min:Sec)||1:33||1:33||1:34|
|Best scores are bolded. Our test bed is a Windows XP SP2 machine, using a dual-core 2.6GHz Athlon 64 FX-60, 2GB of Corsair DDR400 RAM on an Asus A8N-SLI motherboard, an ATI X1950 Pro videocard, a Western Digital 4000KD hard drive, and a PC Power and Cooling Turbo Cool 850 PSU.|