In 2004, the price per megabyte plummeted in all forms of storage. Hard drive prices headed south, and the price of flash memory of all form factors plunged, even as the thirst for more space to store the digital aspects of our lives skyrocketed. Hitachi Global Storage estimates that the modern house may have up to twenty hard drives of different types by 2007.
Optical storage followed the same path. In 2003, the DVD burner was slow, somewhat creaky, and an expensive luxury. As we left 2004, DVD burners capable of burning dual-layer discs at 4x and single layer +R media could be found for well under $100. With the price of some DVD burners dipping below $50, people interested in preserving their digital photographs, video, and music no longer have price as an excuse. Media costs are lower than ever, too, with single layer +R media as little as $0.50 for media rated at slower speeds (4x). So if you’re worried about the fragility of that hard drive, get a DVD burner and start backing up your digital stuff!
But which drive to get? There are dozens of different drives out there, but most these days are multiformat capable. That is, they can burn both DVD-R/-RW and DVD +R/+RW media. Increasingly common are dual-layer burners, which can burn up to 8.4GB dual-layer +R discs. Dual layer media is still pricey. The cheap discs we’ve found capable of burning at 2.4x speeds cost about $6 apiece. Those prices are starting to erode as the 4x capable drives and media hit the market.
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Today, we look at six different retail dual-layer burners. Some are capable of burning DVD+R DL at 4x speeds. All are supposedly able to burn single layer +R media at 16x speeds. Some can even burn -R media at 12x or faster, depending on the media. We’ll first take a look at performance, and then we’ll move on to the individual drive reviews. Continued…