The previous model of NEC DVD writer was the ND-2500A with 8x speed on DVD+R/-R media and 4x speed on DVD+RW/-RW, so clearly the ND-2510A was going to be a minor update that added little or nothing to the ND-2500A. Oh how wrong can you be?
The ND-2510A adds support for yet another type of media, DVD+R9. This is a variant on conventional DVD+R with two blank DVDs stuck one on top of another. This dual layer (sometimes called double layer) DVD media is the conventional 1.2mm thick, so each layer is 0.6mm thick, with the layers joined together with a special adhesive.
The idea is that the optics in the DVD writer can read and write one layer or the other by altering the focus of the laser beam, so the adhesive that holds the two layers together has to be reflective enough to act as a mirror backing when the laser is focussed on the top layer, but it also has to be transparent enough to allow the laser to pass through when the drive is reading the bottom layer.
This is an incredibly neat trick, but most of the technology is in the new media, rather than in the drive itself. Of course the drive needs different firmware to work in dual layer mode, and it also needs compatible DVD writing software, but these are only small updates, and that is the reason that the ND-2510A has such a minor increment in model number over the ND-2500A.
It is essentially the same drive but the difference boosts the capacity of a single DVD from 4.7GB to a theoretical 8.5GB. In our testing the actual limit was just under 8GB, but that’s still a huge increase in storage capacity. Unfortunately the new media costs a small fortune at £9 per piece, compared to about £1 for a piece of 8x DVD+R or DVD-R media. No doubt the price of dual layer media will drop in time but for now it is expensive and slow, with a writing speed of 2.4x.
We were impressed to see that a dual layer DVD disc that we wrote with the NEC was perfectly readable in our Panasonic LF-D310 which supports conventional DVD-R and DVD-RAM, so we are happy that this new technology works correctly. Best of all, dual layer is, in this case, an extra feature added to a fast 8x dual format DVD writer, and it carries a tiny premium of about £10, which is negligible as the price of DVD writers continues to drop.
We have so far neglected to mention the rest of the drive, which is a completely conventional tray loading design with a headphone jack and volume control on the front. The specification of 8x writing speed with both types of R media and 4x with RW media is as good as most other drives on the market, with the notable exception of the 12x Plextor PX-712.
The problem is that most drives don’t burn at full speed, as they suffer from incompatibility issues with the available media. The NEC performed better than most, detecting our 8x Verbatim DVD-R media correctly and burning 3.2GB of data in 7 minutes 41 seconds. By contrast the 8x DVD+R media was detected as 6x so the writing time was extended to 8 minutes 9 seconds.
We also burnt 6.9GB of data to 2.4x dual layer media which took 43 minutes 22 seconds, and that took us back to the bad old days of the first DVD writers with their slow writing speeds.
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