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Few Newbie Questions & What the Heck is Sony AW-Q170A?

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Few Newbie Questions & What the Heck is Sony AW-Q170A?

Postby ExtraTrstl on Thu Nov 02, 2006 4:01 pm

I'm in the market for a new DVD drive for a entertainment center computer. This computer will be used for TV, TIVO-ing, DVD playback, music playback as well as video editing. My DVD Burner recently took a crap on me and I'm in the market for a new one. A few questions regarding the reviews and such here as well as a question about a Sony drive that seemingly doesn't exist:

While this computer will be mostly dedicated it will also be required to do some pretty intense multitasking, like burning/ripping a DVD while playing a movie off the hard drive, hopefully without lag. Because of this I've taken special notice to the CPU utilization for the test results.

First off, does the 1x 4x 8x, etc CPU utilization mean what I think it means? That, for example, the LG GSA-H10N utilizes a whopping 21% of available CPU power when reading pressed CDs? How imporant is this stat? I'm very curious as my rig is very similar to the one they use for all the burner tests, so if it's using 21% that's an enormous amount.

So, I've spent the past couple hours digging through reviews and found that both the Plextor 760A and the Sony DRU-830A offer good DVD-Video ripping capabilities (a prime concern) as well as very little CPU utilization.

However, I can only find these drives in retail and I really don't feel like spending and extra $50 vs. OEM if I don't have to, especially since I might get two of them. But I did find a sony drive that seems to be the spittin' image of the DRU-830A sans the RAM (which I don't care about). The newegg link is here:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16827131038

Problem is, I can find exactly 0 information on this drive. I'm thinking it's an OEM-specific version of the DRU-830A (minus the RAM), as I know some companies assign completely different model numbers to products they sell as OEM. Sony's site shows nothing and a somewhat exhaustive Google search only revealed places to buy it as well as a forum somewhere else where someone was asking this exact same question. The Sony drive seemed like a perfect fit for me, especially if I can have it for $30, but I'm particularly concerned about not being able to update the firmware if I were to purchase it since I can't find anywhere to download it.

I had this problem with a computer at work, actually, forget what brand of drive, but a DVD drive was burning REEAAALL slow and I attempted to update the firmware and even went so far as to call the company to no avail. They acted like the drive didn't even exist. I really don't want a ghost drive where it will be impossible to update the firmware.

Any help on these two matters?! Please advise and thanks in advance.

--Bruce
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Re: Few Newbie Questions & What the Heck is Sony AW-Q170

Postby Ian on Thu Nov 02, 2006 7:04 pm

I'm going to move this post over to the DVD writers section of the forum as you'll get better responses there.

ExtraTrstl wrote:First off, does the 1x 4x 8x, etc CPU utilization mean what I think it means? That, for example, the LG GSA-H10N utilizes a whopping 21% of available CPU power when reading pressed CDs? How imporant is this stat? I'm very curious as my rig is very similar to the one they use for all the burner tests, so if it's using 21% that's an enormous amount.


I really don't put too much faith in these results. In most cases, these numbers are simulated, especially since most drives don't read at 1x or 2x anymore.

However, I can only find these drives in retail and I really don't feel like spending and extra $50 vs. OEM if I don't have to, especially since I might get two of them. But I did find a sony drive that seems to be the spittin' image of the DRU-830A sans the RAM (which I don't care about). The newegg link is here:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6827131038


I believe this drive is based on the Optiarc 7170A (which is also for sale on Newegg.. search for 7170A). The DRU-830A on the other hand is based on the Samsung SH-S182D. I haven't tested the 7170A so I really can't say which is better.

As far as I know, Sony doesn't release firmware updates for their OEM drives. You might be able to get them through their customers, but I have yet to see them on their support websites. As far as support goes, if you want that, buy retail. If you can live without it, OEM is fine.
"Blu-ray is just a bag of hurt." - Steve Jobs
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Postby Ian on Thu Nov 02, 2006 7:06 pm

I take back what I said about Sony and firmware updates for unbranded (OEM) drives. They've got an entire page full of them here.
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Postby ExtraTrstl on Fri Nov 03, 2006 11:20 am

Thanks for the quick response.

In regard to the CPU utilization, do you know exactly what it's measuring and how? I checked NeroSpeed's (or whatever the app is) website and they didn't explain it at all except to give the same brief description that it's the "CPU Utilization". Ooook...

Is it far to compare drives at all by this? I mean, I see quite a big discrepancy between the, say, Plextor 760 and the LG I mentioned above. The Plextor is utilizing a single digit percentage while the LG is almost at 1/4. Any information on how this translates into the real world would be of great help as, like I said, I'd like to rip/burn while watching a movie (maybe from another DVD drive) with no lag. They'll be on separate IDE channels (god, I learned that lesson the hard way), so that shouldn't matter.

A drive such as the Lite-On SHM-165H6S was using 97% when ripping DVD video, while the Plextor used 33%. So, even if those aren't absolute numbers, are they still an indication of relative CPU utilization? That is, the Lite-On uses about 3x what the Plextor does? If so, it seems the Plextor Retail or Sony DRU Retail is really my only choice, as they have the lowest CPU utilization scores while still having fast video rip.

As for the Sony site you linked to, they offer a download for the AWG170, but not the AWQ170. The firmware might work and it might not. Regardless, if I'm having this much trouble with finding the firmware before I buy it....

Thanks again for all your help.
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Postby Ian on Fri Nov 03, 2006 12:27 pm

As I said in my previous post, I don't put much faith in CD Speed's CPU usage. Due to DMA, drives use very little of the CPU when reading discs. If I was shopping for a drive, CPU usage would be one of the last things I'd be looking at. In no particular order, I'd be looking at media compatibility, read/write speeds and writing quality.
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Postby CowboySlim on Fri Nov 03, 2006 3:18 pm

ET,

I do a lot of the type of A/V stuff that you are talking about.
However, I haven't tried the simultaneous stuff whereby I'm transcoding an MPEG2 files to Video DVD format while watching a moive.

I use Toshiba SD M-1712 DVD-ROM for most ripping A & V, and
a NEC ND3520A for burning.
Although they both do a great job, neither is any longer available.
If the DVD-ROM died, I'll just live without.
If the burner died, I'd go throught the reviews here and on CDFREAKS for the burner with the highest overall performance ratings.

Note: Media is just as important, if not more, than the burner itself.
Fortunately, I have a good stock on hand of Made in Japan Fuji, 48X, CD-R media as it is a little tough to find these days.

For video, I use only Verbatim DVD+R SL, DVD-R SL, and DVD+R DL.

I can't remember when I had a coaster!

I would never buy a drive solely based on it's having a big name like Sony.
I think Ian said that the Pioneer "111" was a hot drive.

10-4?
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Postby ExtraTrstl on Fri Nov 03, 2006 3:27 pm

Thanks for your reply guys. I ended up buying these:

LITE-ON 18X DVD±R Burner Black IDE Model LH-18A1P-185 - OEM

SAMSUNG 18X DVD±R DVD Burner With 12X DVD-RAM Write, LightScribe Technology Black IDE Model SH-S182M/BEBN - OEM

Both were kinda on the shaky side with media, but I ordered some compatible (Verbatim 8x DL and 16X SL) media so (hopefully) all should be fine. The LiteOn Drive isn't the specific one revieiwed here. I got the 18x instead of the 16x w/LightScribe, but I figured there was going to be little difference and for a $30 drive I'd chance it.

Everything said and done, I got out for just under $120, which is what I would have spent on the drive alone had I not come here.

Thank you both for all your help and it's a great site you got here, Ian.
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Postby ExtraTrstl on Fri Nov 03, 2006 3:35 pm

Oh, and to cowboy, any suggestions?

I started this whole media center thing because I was able to get a KILLER deal on a spectacular LCD projector. So I'm going to use my computer, which is an AMD 64 3200+ (754) with 1 Gig of RAM and an ATI Radeon 9800 All-In-Wonder Pro (AGP). It's not the best anymore, but the rig still gets her job done quite well.

I've never had it be a dedicated system, as it was always my main machine and used for everything under the sun, so I don't really know the specific setups I should use. I tried RAID 0 many, many times and found it to be far too unreliable, so I'm opting for just strategic division of data. That is, windows files and program files on one drive, temp files (swap, ripping, etc) on another, and I have a RAID 1 setup for storage of imporant information/sorted files (and hopefully it will give me a slight read boost). The mobo and drives are only SATA1, unfortunately, so we'll see.

I ordered two burners, as you can see above, and I will put them on separate IDE channels. I actually had great luck with this previously as I had a CD burners on 1/slave and my old DVD burner on 2/master and could burn two things at once with little problem. There were some hiccups here and though, but mostly of my own making.

I'm running on-board sound, unfortunately. It's nice, but not spectacular, and I have to go mini-headphone -> RCA because my receiver doesn't have fiber in (good receiver though, it was top of the line probably about 10 years ago).

You, having done this before, what else should I be looking for? Setup wise, software wise, etc. With it being dedicated I really plan on limiting what will be done on it so hopefully it won't get bogged down in unused .dlls and apps loading all over the place. Though I may run into this a bit when I install games.
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Postby CowboySlim on Fri Nov 03, 2006 4:16 pm

Ok, I see your Concept of Operations a little better now.

Here is my basic CoP, see if it helps:

I use the Hauppauge WinTV PVR-350 PCI card to do a scheduled TV capture.
If I'm not home, I leave my PC on hibernation and the scheduler brings it up and does the 4 hour capture to a *.mpg file.
Initially, I had an ATi Radeon AIW6200XT AGP card to do that.
It was totally unreliable at the scheduled capture in my PC,
so I got rid of it after months of futzing with it.
That type of A/V want a Direct 9. and some other business which my Intel embedded video lacked.
Therefore, with the switch to the Hauppauge I got a Leadtek nVidia TDH6200, 128MB AGP video card.
That combo works exceedingly well for me.

After the capture, I use VideoReDo mpg editor app to delete the commercials.
It is very easy to learn and use. I can get rid of the ad's in four hours of program in 10 - 15 minutes.
VideoReDo then takes about 10 minutes to stitch it back to one file.
I use Nero Vision to recode that file back to the DVD files, *.vobs, that it wraps in the Video_TS folder.
If that is more than 4GB, but not too much more.
I prefer to use DVDShrink as opposed to Nero Recode so I have Nero Vision save the Video_TS folder to hard drive rather than burn.
I then use Nero Burning ROM to make the Video DVD with SL if not too much shrinking is required,
or to DL if the Video_TS folder is a lot larger than 4GB.

I don't actually have the so-called HTPC,
so I walk my Video DVD downstairs to play on a DVD player connected to a TV,
no projector, either.

If you do stuff like that and need more specifics, I'll be back.
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Postby ExtraTrstl on Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:38 am

No, no, thank you Cowboy, you've been a great help. I will be getting my drives in the next couple days and hopefully have everything assembled and fresh installed and ready to use and all that jazz by the end of the week, just in time for me to leave town and be unable to use it :)

Something you might be interested in; This conversation got me to thinking if I could just cut out the middle man and record directly to DVD-R (POSSIBLY dual layer). Heck, if a $500 set top box can do it then certainly my rig can, right? I found this product:

http://www.mediostream.com/products/index_neotv.html

It's version 1.0, and at the very bottom of the page they have a link to compatible cards. The WinTV 401 is listed but not the specific one you mentioned that you have. So, I'm not sure how well this will work, but they do have a trial version.

Anyway, it basically allows real-time recording of video, which is nice if you're running low on space or you just want to give a quick recording of a half hour/hour show to someone. Their entire suite of software looks pretty nice, actually. I think it looks like it might have a little bit of bloat and possibly not powerful enough, but all in all it looks pretty good.

My card is listed as "supported" so once I get everything up and running I'll give this a try. I'll let you know how it works. If you know of any others that can do this, let me know.
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Postby CowboySlim on Sun Nov 05, 2006 11:09 am

Interesting app.
The advantage is that be recording directly to DVD during the capture,
one is saving hard drive space and eliminating the manual step of burning from hard drive after the capture.

Disadvantage for me is that you are burning out the TV commercials.
That removal requires an intermediate manual step.
Also, with hard drives at 3GB per dollar nowadays, ..........
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