Smarter Ways to Use Your Mac

OWC DVR-109D FireWire DVD Burner

Throughout the years, I�ve seen hundreds of different external removable media storage drives. There have been floppy drives (both 3 1/2� and 5 1/4� variants), DAT drives, CD burners, and many other storage mediums. Name a type of removable computer media, and I can almost guarantee that I�ve had some experience with it. Each one of these media formats had some serious flaws to prohibit me from using them without frustration. I took these experiences into serious consideration while reviewing Other World Computing�s (OWC) Mercury Pro DVR-109D FireWire/USB 2 DVD Burner.

I was a little skeptical about using removable media as a backup medium, but any skepticism has been washed away by the performance of this DVD burner. For this burner to be a good backup system, several factors come into play; speed, reliability, and cost-effectiveness. Let�s start with the speed aspect of things.

The DVR-109D utilizes a Pioneer drive mechanism of the same name, providing DL DVD+/-R recording speeds up to 16x, DVD+/-RW recording speeds up to 4x, DL DVD+R recording speeds up to 6x, CD-R recording speeds up to 40x, and CD-RW recording speeds up to 24x. The mechanism itself seems to be well-made in the sense that it lives up to its advertised speed ratings. I performed a series of recording and copying tests, and each result was very close to the drive�s speed rating. It was extremely surprising to see that such an affordable burner packed so much speed.

This particular drive also touts both FireWire 400 and USB 2 connections. On the back of the unit, there are two FireWire ports for daisy-chaining another component to the burner, in addition to a standard USB 2 port. It is generally perceived that USB 2 is inferior when used for DVD burners, but I did not experience any buffer underrun issues while using the USB 2 interface with this burner. Using FireWire did not decrease burn times via my 1.25 Ghz iMac G4 by a significant factor, either. Although I did not experience any buffer underrun issues during my testing, I would still recommend using FireWire while burning dual-layer DVDs, especially since they require a larger constant stream of data.

Now that the speed factor is out of the way, let�s move onto reliability. The enclosure for the actual drive mechanism is constructed from thick plastic. The particular material used seems to be of high-quality, and it survived a series of durability tests. I placed the drive in my Timbuk2 messenger bag, along with several sets of keys, various uncapped pens, several folders filled with papers, and the drive�s external power supply. The drive bounced along in the bag for my commute to the other side of town. At the end of my journey, I was surprised at the lack of damage which the enclosure sustained. There were only a few minor scratches, and I couldn�t find any dents or dings. My next question was, �Will it still function when I try to use it?� Yet again, to my surprise, the unit performed flawlessly as if it never were in my bag. One thing you have to understand is that my bag is a pretty rough place for any electronic device to be in. I�ve had countless items scratched and dented by the contents of my bag, including my precious iPod. Believe me, this is one tough DVD burner.

During use, the burner can become quite noisy, but that�s a tradeoff of using such a high-speed DVD burner. Because of this, I would strongly recommend against viewing DVD movies using this player. Another issue I encountered during use is that the unit can heat up fairly quickly. OWC recommends placing the unit in an area with some space around it so the heat can effectively dissipate. I presume that depriving the burner of proper ventilation will shorten its lifespan by a certain degree, but the reduction should be negligible. The drive tray on the burner seems very solid, and I don�t anticipate it on breaking during normal use.

OWC generously includes 5 DVD-R discs (with jewel cases) and 25 CD-R discs with this burner. As for software, Dantz Retrospect Express 6 for backups and NTI Dragon Burn are included as nice bonuses. Also in the box is compatibility software to ensure compatibility between this burner and various Apple apps such as iTunes, DVD Studio Pro, etc. running under OS X 10.3 Panther. This bundle of �extras� is plentiful, considering the burner's?low MSRP.

Pros: Inexpensive; high-speed Dual-Layer burning; great set of extras included; FireWire and USB 2 interfaces; reliable; sturdy construction

Cons: Heats up quickly; enclosure color could be better; noisy

MB Buying Advice: If you're in the market for an inexpensive, high-speed, dual-layer DVD burner, then the Other World Computing DVR-109D DVD burner is for you. Its speedy burn rates and impressive extras package are great features offered by OWC. To sweeten the deal, OWC recently replaced the Pioneer DVR-109D drive mechanism with the new DVR-110D mechanism, producing even speedier results. At a minuscule MSRP of $135, this DVD burner is the best deal on the market.

Posted by: MacBrilliance News Staff on Jan 03, 06 | 10:09 am