Lite On LDW-401S DVD+RW Burner Reviews

Lite On LDW-401S DVD+RW Burner

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A Dual-Format DVD Writer for Starters

Mar 9, 2004
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Ease of Use:

Pros:Excellent read/write speed, dual-format DVD capability, useful bundle software, fast read, good mechanical

Cons:May have DVD media incompatibility...please read my review for that

The Bottom Line: A very capable dual-format DVD burner, with read/write reliability and good speed, makes it an excellent buy for those who do not want to dig deep into their pocket.


The LiteOn LDW-411S is a dual-format DVD writer supporting the following read/write/rewrite capabilities:

Read: 40x CD-R, 12x DVD-ROM
Write: 4x DVD+R, 4x DVD-R, 40x CD-R
Re-Write: 4x DVD+RW, 2x DVD-RW, 24x CD-RW

The unit can read DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, and DVD+RW, except DVD-RAM.
It supports media format in DVD-ROM, DVD Video, CD-DA, CD-ROM, Video CD, Photo CD, CD-TEXT, CD Extra.

It is available in two colors: beige (LDW-411S) and black (LDW-451S). For the black version, only the face and the tray are in black; the rest is still in beige or metallic color.

I bought this unit at Circuit City (after Christmas 2003) during its special promotions, for $69.99 after $60 combined rebates from Circuit City and the manufacturer. I have used (and still using) LiteOn product before and have been quite happy with it. So when I saw a LiteOn DVD/CD burner for $70, I thought it was too good to pass up.

The retail package includes the following items:

- LiteOn LDW-411S CD/DVD burner
- analog audio cable
- 4 mounting screws
- User’s book (general information and instructional guide)
- Registration card / warranty card
- Quick installation guide
- 1 blank 4x DVD-RW and 1 blank 4x DVD+R
- CD installation software: Sonic MyDVD installer Disc
- One bundle software: PowerDVD Cyberlink XP ver. 4.0

System Requirements

To successfully utilize the DVD recording applications, your PC system should meet the following recommendations:

Operating System: Windows 98SE/Me/2000/XP
CPU: Pentium II 450 MHz or higher
System Memory: 128MB RAM or higher
Hard Drive: 5GB or more of free HDD space for DVD image file, 650MB for CD in general

Hardware Installation

Installing the unit in general is straightforward. I use this unit as the secondary ATAPI device (CD/DVD-ROM drive), with my Sony DVD-ROM the primary. Therefore, I set the jumper on the LiteOn LDW-411S to slave and that on my Sony to master. However, if the unit is used as a single device, its jumper should be set to cable select. The quick installation guide explains this procedure in complete detail.

With the computer case open, the LiteOn LDW-411S can slide into the drive bay very easily. The 4 mounting screws can then be used to secure the drive in place. Next, I hook up the power cable and the secondary EIDE cable from the motherboard.

The enclosed analog audio cable is not needed, unless your computer motherboard does not have internal sound device. If required, the cable can be connected between LDW-411S (using as a primary or single device) and the sound card for playing audio CDs. In my case, I not need hook it up.

Software Installation

For Windows 2000 and XP, the LDW-411S is recognized immediately after boot up. Prior to boot up, though, it would be helpful to check the BIOS setup utility to verify that the unit is recognized by the system; especially for those new motherboards that can recognize the unit type and model. Upon detection, my ASUS motherboard displays the brand name and model of the drive in its BIOS setup program. This information confirms that hardware installation was successful.

In order to use LiteOn LDW-411S to burn DVDs or CDs, we must have a burning software. LiteOn includes the Sonic MyDVD burning software application, and must be installed if we don’t have any other software. Furthermore, this software contains some useful features that include making a quick disc-to-disc copy, performing a system backup (on discs), etc. The following are the features offered by Sonic MyDVD:

- DVD-Video (Create or Modify a DVD-Video, Transfer Video Direct-to-DVD, Editing Video)
- Video CD (Same features as in DVD for V-CD)
- Edit Video (Create and Edit Video with clips, scenes, etc.)
- Backup (Full System backup, Custom Backup, Recovery, etc.)
- Music or Data (Create Music or Data Disc, MP3, Audio, etc.)

I have used a few of these features, and will discuss them in the following sections.

PowerDVD Cyberlink XP Version 4, the bundled software, should be an excellent DVD driver for watching DVD movies or videos, if you do not already have a DVD decoder.

For Windows 2000 and XP users, if your system runs on Intel Application Accelerator (IAA), Sonic MyDVD recommends that such program should be uninstalled, to avoid software conflict between the Sonic MyDVD driver. Beside this requirement, the installation of the Sonic MyDVD software was straightforward.

Media

For DVD format, I have used 4x DVD+R and 4x DVD-R for my recording project. These are Recordable DVDs (non-rewriteable). At present, blank DVDs are still expensive, particularly those re-writeable ones (DVD+R/W or DVD-R/W). If you are diligent with patience to look around for rebates or special offer and promotions, some DVD+R or DVD-R (even DVD-R/W) may be found at quite a reasonable price; $0.90/DVD on average. I bought a 25-pack Imation 4x DVD+R for $14.99.

For quality and reliability, LiteOn recommends the following Recordable and ReWriteable media for the LDW-411S (I list just a few here, those familiar names generally found at local stores):

CD-R: Maxell, Mitsubishi, Mirage, Mitsui, Richo, TDK, etc.
DVD-R: Maxell, Fujifilm, Pioneer, etc
DVD-RW: TDK, JVC, Ritek, MCC
DVD+R: Maxell, Mitsubishi, Ricoh, Sony, TDK, etc.
DVD+RW: Mitsubishi, Philips, Ricoh, TDK.

I have used the following DVD recording media

1x/2.4x DVD+R: HP
4x DVD+R: Imation and Fujifilm
4x DVD-R: Memorex

They all yield excellent and reliable results, except Imation, which you will find out in the following sections.

For CD-Rs, I have used most major brand names, including Sony, Philips, Audiobahn, Memorex, TDK, Fujifilm, Imation. The LiteOn LDW-411S can burn any of them with excellent storage quality.

PERFORMANCE

I use this LiteOn LDW-411S on my desktop PC system with the following components:

Motherboard: ASUS P4P800-Deluxe
CPU: Pentium 4 2.8 GHz Hyper-Threading Tech
RAM: Two Kingston 512MB (1024MB in dual channel) DDR 400
HD Drive: Two 120GB (Western Digital) hard drives
OS: Win 2000, XP and Linux (burner used on all three)

Writing: The LiteOn LDW-411S features a Smart-Burn technology that helps ensure the best burning quality and prevent buffer under run. As stated on the retail box, writing DVD, LiteOn uses a Constant Linear Velocity (CLV) technique to keep its bit-rate flow constant. In other words, it keeps its writing speed constant while the disc spins faster when it begins writing from the inside and then spins slower as it writes toward the edge of the disc.

For CD, it uses a Partial Constant Angular Velocity (P-CAV); think of its rotational speed being kept partially constant. This means that it will write at small gradually changing speeds (from inside to outside edge) in order to keep the rotational speed pseudo-constant. Therefore, its writing speed will leap in and out between the specified speed. For example, if I selected 8x for its writing speed, then it will initially start at that speed but ends up at, say, 12x when it writes toward the outside edge of the CD.

Whatever that stuff means, to us this technology must imply that it translates to quality in recording and reading. For the past two months, I have used this drive to burn both DVDs and CDs as a disc-to-disc copy as well as video (DVD) using the Sonic MyDVD, including other software applications (WinDVD Creator, NERO 6.0, DVD X Copy).

For making a disc-to-disc copy, Sonic MyDVD offers two approaches: Quick and Advance. In the quick-copy approach, everything is done in automatic mode. With the second option, the system features Test, Record and Verify. That is, it tests the source disc; if OK and the destination disc can store all the data, it writes. Then it verifies.

Using Sonic MyDVD, I initially had about 80 percent success rate on finished products. One or two out of ten burnt CDs/DVDs were unreadable, producing data errors, mostly at random. For example, I tried to make a backup copy of my Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS 3 operating system (5 CDs), resulting in one bad disc. This problem was associated with the Sonic MyDVD software application, and not the drive, because when I performed the same disc-to-disc copy using NERO 6.0, copy was 100% successful.

Making a backup copy of a one-hour video on DVD takes about 30 minutes, including verification. In most cases, burn project is completed in less than half an hour. Depending on the length of the DVD or video program and the special recording features, it may take longer.

Despite my initial less-than-100% success rate with the Sonic MyDVD software application, the burnt quality is excellent. The recorded DVD or V-CD can be played on any standalone DVD player that supports DVD+R or DVD-R. I have two DVD players (RCA and CyberHome CH-DVD 300) that can always play those recorded DVDs (+ and – R).

I also tested the LiteOn using my Linux system to burn data and MP3 as well as DVDs with excellent and reliable results. LiteOn also works great with DVD X Copy. I have done a number of backup copies of my son’s favorite DVDs, so he can play the backup ones and keep the originals in a safe place to avoid scratches.

For some unexplained reason, with the NERO Express software, the LDW-411S burner can only write CD at its maximum (40x) or minimum (4x) speed. I suspect there must be software incompatibility here, because my LiteOn LTR40125S CD burner (on my old PC) works fine with NERO Express.

Reading: For reading, LiteOn uses Constant Angular Velocity (CAV). It is excellent at ripping data. With its random access time of 120ms, it seems quick at reading material on CD/DVD. Compared to my LiteOn LTR40125S CD burner, the LDW-411S is quite good at extracting information from some severely scratched CDs. However, it is not as effective at extracting data from badly scratched DVDs. But compared to my standalone DVD players, the LDW-411S is still better at this. With its 2MB buffer, its data transfer rate is quite good, compared to my Sony DVD-ROM that uses 512KB buffer, and I can see that small difference. Therefore, I judge the LiteOn LDW-411S to be a very capable DVD reader.

The LDW-411S has a dual LED mechanism designated for a specific operation. The LED glows in green during reading and verifying data, and red during testing and burning. This is good feature, since I know at what stage the drive is operating, especially when I’m using Linux operating system.

Re-Writing: I have not tried any of the rewriteable media yet; no comment on that.

Mechanical: The mechanics of this LDW-411S is quite good; excellent built quality. It is also responsive. The tray is quick to open, immediately after the “Eject” button is pressed. Closing is also quick. But the tray operation (opening and closing) is a little bit loud compared to my Sony DDU1621 DVD-ROM drive. The operation is not quite smooth, so to speak. However, this does not impair the operation or performance whatsoever. When a CD or DVD is in the tray and spinning, it is very smooth and quiet.

Summary

Based on the four DVD media—HP, Imation, Fujifilm and Memorex—only Imation 4x DVD+R seems to have burning problem with LiteOn LDW-411S. I lost four Imation DVDs using Sonic MyDVD software, and one with Studios 321 DVD X Copy software. The cause of such failure is inconclusive. I suspect the problem is not Imation, but the incompatibility between the media and the DVD writer. Therefore, I think we have to be careful in selecting DVD media.

Under such circumstances, I think it is best to strictly follow the recommendation made by LiteOn on DVD media (as I listed in the Media section, taken from LiteOn owner’s manual).

However, based on my test and experience, I found Fujifilm (4X DVD+R) and Memorex (4x DVD-R) to yield 100% success rate on all burn projects. I have used several recording software applications to burn DVDs, and they all yield excellent results.

I suspect LiteOn has success rate on every writing speed (1x/2x/4x). For example, HP DVD+R is capable of writing speed up to 2.4x. In auto mode, LiteOn and/or software must have chosen the appropriate writing speed so that data can be put on HP 1x/2.4x DVD+R.

For CDs, LiteOn also has excellent burn rate. I normally burn CDs at the middle of the driver’s writing speed (often between 8x and 24x). All the CD brand names I have listed previously work well with LiteOn.

The supported software definitely needs improvements, especially on its burning features. Other burning software applications are much better. Using the software quick disc-to-disc copy seems to work best, but the problem is I don’t know what writing speed the system uses. I obtain more reliable results on burning DVDs (or CDs) using Linux system or Studio 321 DVD X Copy and WinDVD creator than Sonic MyDVD.

The bundle software PowerDVD Cyberlink is a good DVD decoder for DVD movies. I personally prefer to use WinDVD software application.

Recommendation

After two months of regular use, I can conclude that the LiteOn LDW-411S is a very capable DVD/CD burner for most practical purposes for Windows or Linux. With the support of dual-format, its recording ability proved very useful and quite effective. Dual format means that the unit supports both DVD-R/W and DVD+R/W. Most DVD burners do not support such feature, not to mention that some still use maximum recording speed of 2.4x. This makes the LiteOn LDW-411S most desirable, both for price and capability (even quality).

So far, I am impressed with the LDW-411S; and for $70 (after rebates) I couldn’t ask for more. Therefore, I am not reluctant to recommend it to anyone looking for a low priced dual-format DVD burner.

Currently, you can find LiteOn LDW-411S for under $99, without rebates or special offers.

************LITE*ON************

Special note on DVD format
Currently there are three competing DVD recording standards:
1. DVD-R/W (first release of DVD Recordable media; DVD-R stands for DVD Recordable and DVD-RW stands for DVD ReWriteable)
2. DVD+R/W (later release or successor to DVD-R/W, it has some better features than the DVD-R/W)
3. DVD-RAM (regarded as a hard disc, usually used in most DVD recorders)

DVD—Digital Versatile Disc.

Specifications: LiteOn LDW-411S DVD/CD burner

Model: 4x DVD dual-format drive
Interface: ATAPI/EIDE
Data Buffer Memory: 2MB
Random Access Time: 120ms
Line output level: 0.85+/- 0.15 RMS
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 75dB
Dimensions (WxHxD) : 5.8x1.6x6.7 inches
Weight: 0.9 Kg


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 69.99
Operating System: Windows

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