What's in the box?:

  • Sony BWU-500S Blu-ray Disc Writer
  • Operating Instructions
  • Sony Software Disc v9.30W
  • Serial ATA Cable
  • Mounting Screws
  • Warranty Information

Physical Features:

The drive Sony sent us for this review was manufactured in September of 2010 and had firmware 1.62. For this review I used firmware versions 1.62 and 1.63.

From the front, the BWU-500S looks nothing like Sony's previous Blu-ray Disc writers. Instead of the white and silver bezel found on the BWU-300S, it sports the same basic design as Sony Optiarc's DVD writers. The BWU-500S also has its share of logos. Along with the large "Sony" and "Blu-ray Disc" logos, you can see a few showing support for the DVD+ReWritable and DVD Multi specifications as well as Ultra Speed CD-RW media.

Below the tray you can see the BWU-500S's single LED. Off by default, this LED lights up green whenever the drive is reading or writing.

The rear of the BWU-500S is fairly straight forward. By looking at the picture below you can see the drive's SATA interface and power connector.

Technical Specs:

Most of the specs below have been taken from Sony's website and the manual that came with the drive.

  Sony BWU-500S 12x Blu-ray Disc ReWriter
BD-R Write Speeds 12x (CAV)
10x, 8x, 6x (P-CAV)
4x, 2x (CLV)
BD-R DL Write Speeds 8x, 6x (Z-CLV)
4x, 2x (CLV)
BD-R LTH Write Speeds 6x (P-CAV)
4x, 2x (CLV)
BD-RE Write Speeds 2x (CLV)
DVD+R Write Speeds 16x, 12x (CAV)
8x (P-CAV)
6x (CLV)
DVD+RW Write Speeds 8x (Z-CLV)
6x, 4x, 2.4x (CLV)
DVD-R Write Speeds 16x, 12x (CAV)
8x (P-CAV)
6x, 4x (CLV)
DVD-RW Write Speeds 6x (Z-CLV)
4x, 2x (CLV)
DVD+R DL Write Speeds 8x, 6x (Z-CLV)
4x, 2.4x (CLV)
DVD-R DL Write Speeds 8x, 6x (Z-CLV)
4x (CLV)
DVD-RAM Write Speeds 12x, 5x (P-CAV)
3x, 2x (CLV)
CD Write Speeds 48x (CAV)
40x, 32x, 24x (P-CAV)
16x (CLV)
CD Rewrite Speeds 24x (Z-CLV)
16x, 10x, 4x (CLV)
BD Read Speeds 8x Max (BD-ROM Single Layer)
8x Max (BD-ROM Dual Layer)
8x Max (BD-R/RE)
8x Max (BD-R DL)
6x Max (BD-RE DL)
6x Max (BD-R LTH)
DVD Read Speeds 16x Max (DVD-ROM Single Layer)
12x Max (DVD-ROM Dual Layer)
16x Max (DVD±R)
12x Max (DVD±R DL)
12x Max (DVD±RW)
12x Max (DVD-RAM)
CD Read Speeds 48x Max (CD-ROM/CD-R)
40x Max (CD-RW)
DAE Speeds 48x Max
Buffer Size 8 MB
Access Times
250 ms (BD)
150 ms (DVD)
150 ms (CD)
CD Formats CD-DA
CD-I Ready
Video CD
Photo CD
CD Text
BD Formats BD-ROM
Recording Modes Disc At Once
Session At Once
Track At Once with Zero Gap
Fixed and Variable Packet Writing

Write Quality Testing:

The BWU-500S is one of the few drives capable of performing write quality testing with Blu-ray Disc media. When combined with software like CD Speed or Erik Deppe's Opti Drive Control, the drive is able to report the Long Distance Code (LDC) and Burst Indicator Subcode (BIS).

While it's still too early to know what "good" results should look like, c't magazine has stated that the average LDC should stay below 13 and the maximum BIS should not exceed 8.

More Features:

By looking at the picture below, you can see that Sony's new Blu-ray Disc writer is identified as a "SONY BD RW BWU-500S."

Nero also shows that the BWU-500S has a maximum CD writing speed of 48x and a 8192KB buffer. This buffer is also backed up by Sony's Power-Burn buffer underrun protection. According to Nero, the BWU-500S can also write CD-Text and overburn. When testing the drive's capacity, it had no problems overburning up to 99 minutes with our CompUSA media. 

Using Alex Noe's Weak Sector Utility we were able to determine that the BWU-500S is a "two sheep" burner and is capable of backing titles protected by SafeDisc 2.90. Like most drives, it did not pass the "three sheep" test.

Here is a screen shot from Erik Deppe's Opti Drive Control. Among other things, this program queries the drive to see what its reading and writing capabilities are. Opti Drive Control had no problems detecting the BWU-500S's reading and writing speeds and supported disc types.

Opti Drive Control also shows that the BWU-500S is an RPC-2 DVD drive. This means that the drive's region is stored in the firmware. The region can be changed five times and after that it cannot be changed anymore. While there isn't an RPC-1 firmware available for the drive, there is a utility available that can make the drive region free.

While Opti Drive Control gives us a quick glance at the BWU-500S's features, DVDINFOpro provides a little more information on some of the drive's reading and writing capabilities. By looking at the screenshot above you can see that Sony's new drive can read and write to most BD and DVD formats.

The BWU-500S also supports a feature called "bitsetting." Using Nero, CD Speed or Sony's BookType Utility, you can set the book type for DVD+R, DVD+RW and DVD+R DL media. By doing so, your recorded discs will identify themselves as "DVD-ROM." This feature comes in handy if you have an older DVD player that has problems playing recordable media.