BenQ LightScribe DVD ReWriter


Burn, flip, burn. Hip!

Month Reviewed: May 2005
Verdict: 8

The death certificate for Yamaha’s ill-fated Disc T@2 technology, which let you burn text or images onto the recordable side of an optical disc, attributed its demise to two factors: the shame of its absurd moniker, and the fact that the process consumed recordable space. But the worthy idea lives on in BenQ’s DVD ReWriter.

Using superior technology—dubbed LightScribe—licensed from HP, the ReWriter modulates the strength of the burning laser to etch a gray-scale image onto a special dye coating on the label side of the disc (you must, however, use special LightScribe discs, which at press time were running about 80 cents apiece for 52x CD-Rs, and 8x DVD media for about a dollar more than that).

Burning a complex image at maximum quality consumed a little more than 40 minutes; that’s a long time, but check out Mr. Pickles! You can even see his whiskers, and 10-point italicized white type came out easily legible. Simple projects go much faster. We put in a mix CD that we burned ourselves, and the LightScribe software that’s integrated in the bundled Nero Express pulled the track listing from the CD-Text embedded on the disc and burned the titles in 3:15 (min:sec).

The drive isn’t just about LightScribe, though. BenQ set a record burning 4.25GB to a 16x single-layer recordable DVD+R with a time of 5:41. That’s breathtaking. Burning to double-layer media was less impressive. BenQ doesn’t support “overspeeding,” or burning to media at faster than the rated speed, so its double-layer performance came in at 44:09, which is about 18 minutes slower than Plextor’s PX-716A.

In addition to the bundled Nero Express, BenQ busts out a home-brew application for power-users, called QSuite. This program enables you to set the default “book type” of your recordable DVD media to increase compatibility with set-top players, and it will test your media for quality.

It’s tragic that the DVD ReWriter doesn’t permit overspeeding—that’s a serious omission. But you can table the labels and leave the Sharpies to the harpies—the LightScribe technology is a tremendous success.
--Logan Decker

+ Etching:
LightScribe results are almost as good as silk-screening; fast DVD+R burns.

- Retching: Doesn’t support disc overspeeding; double-layer burn speeds are way below par.

Behold the lightscribe technology. The image is of Maximum PC's favorite cat, Mr. Pickles.

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