ASUS DRW-1612BL Lightscribe

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ASUS DRW-1612BL Lightscribe
  • ASUS DRW-1612BL Lightscribe
  • ASUS DRW-1612BL Lightscribe
  • ASUS DRW-1612BL Lightscribe

Pros

  • Reliable DVD and CD burns, LightScribe

Cons

  • IDE not Serial ATA

Bottom Line

Good quality burns and solid read times are delivered by the Asus DRW-1612BL. If you want a reliable burner for single and DL DVD media, this one is a good proposition.

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The ASUS DRW-1612BL improves on the company's previous internal DVD burner model (the DRW-1608P3S) by offering a slight increase in speed for some of its key functions (CD-R read and write speeds from 40x to 48x and DVD-RAM read and write speeds from 5x to 12x). It also adds LightScribe technology to the mix, which can be used to burn images and titles directly onto the label side of LightScribe-capable discs.

The key specifications are typical of most of the DVD burners in the current market: an IDE interface (instead of Serial ATA) and a buffer size of 2MB. Buffer underrun protection is present and the design of the drive features techniques (as part of ASUS' QuieTrack series of drives) to keep it quiet and reduce the vibration from spinning discs.

In our tests it definitely was a quiet drive and we didn't pick up any hints of excessive vibration when the drive was spinning at its maximum rate. Like all the drives we test, the drive was installed in a Thermaltake Shark case which has drive rails that hold the drive securely in place and we used Verbatim discs for all our tests.

The DRW-1612BL can burn and read most of the standard DVD and CD formats on the market, except for DVD-RAM cartridges (it will only accept DVD-RAM discs that are not in a cartridge). It proved to be a reliable performer in all our tests.

We experienced no problems at all reading back DVD-R DL (dual layer) and DVD+R DL (double layer) discs that were filled with 8GB worth of music and video files, although ASUS does not supply a bit-setting utility to allow DL media to be burnt as DVD-ROM type discs for greater compatibility in older DVD drives. Because of this, the data on our DL burns was not readable in our older Pioneer DVR-107D single-layer DVD burner.

The drive is capable of writing to DL media at a maximum rate of 8x. It correctly recognised our 8x Verbatim DVD+R DL discs and burnt to them at this rate. While the drive is also capable of writing to DVD-R DL media at a rate of 8x, our Verbatim DVD-R DL discs had a 4x rating and this is the speed at which the DRW-1612BL burnt to these discs. The difference in burn time between these two formats was ten minutes, but both types of media were read back by the drive in an almost identical time.

Single-layer DVD-R and DVD+R discs burnt swiftly and were read back just as swiftly in the DRW-1612BL. We used 4GB worth of video and music files for the single-layer tests and the difference in the time it took to burn DVD-R and DVD+R discs was only four seconds.

After our data tests, we got on to some fun stuff and checked out the drive's LightScribe feature. With LightScribe-capable discs, which have a special coating on them that reacts to the wavelength of the laser beam, images and labels can be burnt directly onto the label side of the disc. The time it takes to burn a design onto a disc can vary depending on the complexity of the design, but as an example, it took over 15 minutes to burn a title and two images onto our test disc using the normal contrast setting. The contrast setting will also affect the time of the burn. At the highest setting the burn will take longer, but it will also display a darker burn.

LightScribe is useful if you want to burn professional-looking discs for clients, instead of just writing on the discs with a marker pen. Another option for labelling your discs is to obtain a printer that prints directly onto printable media. A machine such as Epson's Stylus RX700 (which is a multifunction device) can print an image across the entire area of a disc in a fraction of the time it takes to burn a LightScribe label.

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