AOpen picked up a Recommended award in out last DVD writer group test, so we were expecting good things from the DUW1608A. The specifications looked reasonable enough â€“ 16x DVD+R, 8x DVD-R, 4x DVD-RW, 4x DVD+RW, 48x CD-R and 32x CD-RW. The CD-RW specification looked particularly impressive, since none of the other drives were rated above 24x. Unfortunately, when we placed a 32x rated CD-RW disc in the AOpen drive, it would not write to it any faster than 24x.
Despite its impressive heritage, the AOpen didnâ€™t continue the form of the last award winning drive when it came to performance. DVD+R performance was well below par across the board. We thought that this might be a firmware issue, as with the MSI, but after flashing the AOpen with the latest firmware, the DVD+R times didnâ€™t improve. DVD-R performance was better, with the AOpen sitting mid-table, but it languished at, or near the bottom of all the DVD+RW and DVD-RW graphs.
The DUW1608A managed to pull itself back up to mid-table for the Dual Layer tests, and even managed to top the table for the CD-R tests. However, when it came to CD-RW, where the AOpen should have excelled with its 32x writing ability, things turned sour again. A third place slot is reasonable for the 600MB MP3 burn, but the AOpen dropped to the bottom once more for the CD-RW format, taking well over a minute longer than its nearest competitor. Thinking that there may have been a problem with the media, we broke out a new CD-RW disk and ran the full format again, but the time didnâ€™t improve.
Just like the majority of drives these days, there are no audio controls, volume wheel or headphone socket at the front of the AOpen. The fascia is adorned with the standard eject button, indicator light and manual eject hole. Software is well taken care of with the Nero OEM suite and a copy of Cyberlinkâ€™s PowerDVD. Although there is an audio cable and mounting screws supplied, there is no IDE cable â€“ although this is disappointing, many of the other drives on test also come without IDE cables.
On the plus side, the AOpen does go one better than the Sony by giving you the choice of beige, silver and black fascias - so the DUW1608A should be able to suit just about any PC.
If thereâ€™s one saving grace for the AOpen itâ€™s the price. At Â£40.99 this is the cheapest drive on test by quite a margin, so if youâ€™re on a very tight budget the DUW1608A may be worth a look.
The AOpen DUW1608A is a disappointing performer, and struggles to keep up with the competition in many of the tests. However, it does have a decent software bundle, the choice of three fascia colours and a killer price point.