ASUS DRW-0402P/D DVDR/RW Drive Review
High Capacity on a Budget

By Chris Angelini
January 28, 2004

It's hard to believe that the very first DVD writers were priced in the neighborhood of $16,000, especially considering the current landscape of low-cost optical hardware.  There's still a market for high-end recording equipment, though.  Just look at Sony's BDZ-S77 Blu-Ray recorder, which debuted last year with an MSRP of $3,800.  But not everyone needs (or even wants) a 31-pound drive for burning $30, 23GB disks. In fact, it only really makes sense to buy the tools that best serve your needs.

A year ago, most pre-built computer systems included high-speed CD-RW drives.  And while many still feature the stagnant technology, it's much more common to see medium and high-end systems with a DVDR/RW drive.  The very latest models, such as Plextor's PX-708A, burn at up to 8x, good enough to fill a 4.7GB DVD+R disc in about eight minutes.  Speed like that comes at a price of course and Plextor's drive approaches the $200 mark online. 

Thus, if you really want to be able to burn DVD's, but don't want to shell out the admission fee for the newest 8x drives out there, consider one of the many 4x drives which, while not as peppy, are capable of writing DVDs in well under 20 minutes. ASUS' DRW-0402P/D is a perfect example, and it can be found for about $110 online. It doesn't break any speed records but a combination of respectable performance and low cost, add appeal to this otherwise dated drive.

  

Specifications of the ASUS' DRW-0402P/D
Older technology, but still highly capable
Model: DRW-0402P/D
Interface: ATAPI / IDE
Data Buffer Memory: 2MB
Average Access Time: DVD: 140ms
Average Access Time: CD: 130ms

Data Transfer Rates:
     DVD+R Write: 4x, 2.4x (CLV)
     DVD-R Write: 4x, 2x, 1x (CLV)
     DVD+RW Write: 2.4x (CLV)
     DVD-RW Write: 2x, 1x (CLV)
     DVD Read: Up to 12x (CAV)
     CD-R Write: 16x, 12x, 8x, 4x (CLV)
     CD-RW Write: 10x, 4x (CLV)
     CD Read: Up to 32x (CAV)
 
Supported Formats: DVD Single/Dual layer discs, DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, CD-R, CD-RW, CD-ROM Mode 1, CD-ROM/XA Mode 2 (form 1, form 2), Photo CD, CD-DA, CD-Extra, Video CD, CD-Text

Recording Modes: DVD-R: DAO, Incremental Recording, Multi-Border Recording, DVD-RW: Restricted Overwriting, DVD+R: Incremental Recording, DVD+RW: Random Recording, CD-R/RW: DAO, TAO, SAO, Packet Write

Buffer Management: Buffer Underrun Protection technology prevents buffer underrun errors, allowing user to multi-task during recording.
OS Compatibility: Windows XP/NT/ME/2000/98SE (no Mt. Rainier support)
Audio Output: .7.2Vrms
Power Requirement: +12V DC and +5V DC, Tolerance: 5%
Mounting Orientation: Horizontal or Vertical, 5 degrees
Dimensions: (WxHxD) 148mm x 42.3mm x 198mm
 (5.9" x 1.6" x 7.8")
Weight: 1,100 grams (about 2.4 lbs.)
Temperature: operating: 5-45 C, storage -20-60 C
Humidity: operating: 5%-85% (non-condensing), storage 5%-90% (non-condensing)
Vibration: operating: .2G peak (at 10-300Hz), storage 1.5G peak (at 10-300Hz)
MTBF: 60,000 hours, Operating Duty Cycle (Read) 20% POH, Operating Duty Cycle (Write) 2% POH



Bundled Media and Software
The whole package

ASUS' bundle leaves little to complain about.  It includes everything you'd need to get started, including blank CD and DVD media, in addition to the prerequisite hardware and software.  The comprehensive instruction manual features 25 pages of operational data and in-depth specifications.  Even if you've never installed an optical drive, the manual provides enough guidance to streamline the process.  Alternatively, a quick install guide breaks the whole process down into 12 steps. All of the necessary mounting hardware (screws, data, and audio cables) comes in a plastic baggie. Installation itself is as easy as sliding the drive in an empty bay, securing it to your chassis, connecting relevant cables, and selecting the drive's Slave or Master status on the back. 

  • ASUS DRW-0402P/D DVDR/RW Drive
  • Cable set (one 40-pin IDE ribbon cable, four screws and an audio cable)
  • Bundled software (ASUS DVD Player, Ulead DVD Movie Factory 2 SE, Sonic DLA, and Sonic RecordNow DX
  • One blank DVD+R and one blank 52x CD-R
  • Manual
  • Quick installation guide
  • Emergency eject pin and instructions

The bundled software suite is fairly unconventional.  Sonic's RecordNow DX, which is customized for the DRW-0402P/D, enables the creation of data, audio, and video discs, similar to Ahead's NERO or Roxio Easy CD and DVD Creator. It has a Wizard for simplified recording or advanced users can utilize the more detailed interface.  Although RecordNow DX seems to be a capable application, subjective preference has us wishing ASUS had tapped Ahead's NERO Burning ROM as its primary bundled utility.

Sonic RecordNow

The second Sonic application that comes with ASUS' DRW-0402P/D is "DLA", or Drive Letter Access.  It disables Windows XP's native drag-and-drop interface, implementing its own packet writing scheme.  It is, for the most part, transparent as you use your optical drive as you would a floppy disk or hard drive.  Moreover, DLA is able to format disks and burn a finalized copy.

One of the primary attractions of a DVDR/RW drive is the ability to backup movies.  Learning how to copy DVD movies from your cinematic collection is actually a fairly involved process.  However, Ulead's DVD MovieFactory 2 SE makes it possible to create and burn home videos with MPEG-1, MPEG-2, AVI, VOB, or Apple QuickTime files.  If you have a camcorder or VCR connected to your PC, the Disc-Direct feature captures and encodes your video stream in real-time and burns it to either a VCD or DVD.  Unfortunately, the version that ASUS includes isn't the full program, and it isn't even up to date as Ulead already released its DVD MovieFactory 3 Disc Creator software.  

Ulead MovieFactory 2 SE and AsusDVD
 

The final piece of bundled software is ASUS' own ASUSDVD XP playback software, which is based on the CyberLink PowerDVD decoder.  It plays DVD movies, VCDs, SVCDs or video files stored on your hard drive.  As with most OEM versions of PowerDVD,  ASUSDVD XP only offers 2-channel audio output, limiting its utility in a multi-channel setup.  Thus, while all of the software included with the DRW-0402P/D works well, the useful bits require an additional investment for full functionality.

 

ASUS' DRW-0402P/D