Ricoh MP5316 Dual Format Double Layer CD/DVD Writer

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      In summary

      An affordable image archiving and video recording system for digital photographers. . . [more]

      Full review

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      If you’ve been shooting digital pictures for a year or two, chances are you’re starting to look at some way to store them that doesn’t occupy large amounts of the hard disk on your PC. Currently, the most cost-effective storage option is optical disks, of which there are two types: CD and DVD. With a capacity of 700MB, CDs are fine for storing small collections of images and their low cost makes them ideal for sharing image files. However, if you have lots of high-res pictures to archive, DVDs are a better solution. The more common single-layer DVDs can accommodate 4.7GB of data, while the newer dual-layer disks hold 8.5GB and double-sided DVDs hold 9.5GB.

      ‘Burners’ that can write to both types of disk are now very affordable and most are supplied with software for creating and burning CDs and DVDs. Ricoh’s MP5316 isn’t the cheapest available – but its read/write speeds are competitive and it has some features that make it worthwhile for photographers.

      1. It supports most CD types (but cannot be used for writing 8cm CDs, although it can read and play them) plus DVD+ and DVD- media (including dual layer disks), which means compatibility with most computers and DVD players.

      2. It also supports the +VR (Video Recording) format, which means you can add, edit and save video data directly on a disk.

      3. It includes ‘lossless linking’ technology, which maintains high compatibility when data is added or edited.

      Designed for IBM PC/AT-compatible computers with a free half height tray and socket for a 12V or 5V power connector, the MP5316 is compatible with Windows operating systems from 98 onwards and requires a 1.1GHz or faster CPU plus at least 256MB of RAM and 5GB of HDD space for writing DVDs. Don’t be put off by the fact that this is an internal drive. It’s straightforward to install and Ricoh supplies all the items you need to get started, including IDE and audio cables, mounting screws and suchlike.

      The Windows software bundle includes Ahead Software’s latest Nero CD and DVD mastering suite, which includes Nero Express 6, Nero Vision Express 2, Nero BackITUp and Nero Showtime, along with InCD4 for Packet Writing. Add to this a double-layer DVD+R disk and you have a complete setup in a box.

      On test, we were able to burn 4.5GB of data to a single-sided DVD+R in six minutes and 57 seconds, using a write speed of 4x. The MP5316 took exactly 44 minutes to burn a full 8.5GB dual-layer DVD+R disk at a write speed of 2.4x (3324 KB/second – the only speed supported by dual layer media), which is reasonably fast. When burning image data to a CD, the MP5316 writes at 48x speed and transferred 100MB of image files to disk in just over a minute.

      For simply writing files to disk, the bundled Nero software was impressive. The StartSmart project launcher made it easy to operate the application and there’s a useful interface that tracks the burning process and shows you the time taken to cache the selected files, burn the files and verify the burn. Bar graphs provided an easy way to assess the progress of each burn session. Nero Vision Express 2 added a DVD authoring facility that is straightforward to use, while Nero ShowTime provided high-quality DVD playback facilities on a Windows PC.

      During our tests, no ‘coasters’ (unusable disks) were produced from the disks we burned. Consequently, we believe photographers – in particular those with large collections of still images and/or video clips that they wish to archive or share – will find the MP5316 drive ideal, provided they stick with DVD+R and DVD+RW media, which can be read and played on most DVD video players and PC DVD drives. (Note: certain DVD-ROM drives and DVD players may not play DVD-ROMs and DVD videos created on DVD+RW/DVD+R media.)

      Media Costs: When we went to press, CD-R disks cost less than $1, CD-RW disks for between $1.50 and $2 and DVD+R and DVD-R disks for between $1.20 and $3 (depending on the write speed and the number of disks in the pack). Dual-layer 8.5GB DVDs averaged around $12 and double-sided DVD disks (with a capacity of 9.4GB) cost just under $20.

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      Specifications:

      Type: Internal IDE CD/DVD R/RW drive

      Compatible writing formats: DVD+/-RW DVD+/-R, DVD-ROM, DVD Video, CD-R/RW, CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, CD Extra, CD-I, Mixed-ModeCD, VideoCD, PhotoCD, CD TEXT, HybridCD, CD-Bridge

      Writing mode: DVD+RW Random Access Write/Sequential Write, CD-R/RW Disc At Once, Session At Once, Track at Once, Multi-Session, variable or fixed packet.

      Average access time: DVD 140 msec. (16x), CD 120 msec. (48x)

      Buffer memory: 2MB

      Data transfer speed (at I/F): Max. 33MB/Sec. (Ultra DMA 33)

      Dimensions (wxdxh): 148 x 190 x 42mm

      Weight: 1kg

      RRP: $229

      Distributor: RicohAustralia ; 1300 363 741; www.ricoh.com.au

       

      Specifications

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      Rating

       

      Buy