As much as is possible with an optical drive, Sonyâ€™s DVD writers have a definite stylish edge to them. The silver/transparent fascia produces an almost 3D illusion, and will definitely look good in an aluminium case or a silver small form factor box thanks to its smaller length. If however you donâ€™t like the silver/transparent fascia, Sony supplies a black fascia in the box as well. Which ever fascia you choose, the only features youâ€™ll get are a single eject button, an indicator light and a manual eject hole.
As well as the black fascia you also get an IDE cable and mounting screws for the drive. Thereâ€™s also a full Nero software suite including Nero Burning ROM 6 SE, InCD 4, Nero VisionExpress 2, Nero Back IT Up and Nero Showtime.
As far as specifications go, the Sony can only write DVD+R media at 16x, while DVD-R discs are burned at 8x. Both DVD+RW and DVD-RW discs are written at 4x, while Dual Layer media is burned at 2.4x. CD specs are up with the best of them at 48x for CD-R and 24x for CD-RW.
Despite the relatively conservative specifications the Sony turned in some pretty good results here and there. In the DVD+R tests it topped the graph when burning the digital images, but then dropped to second from bottom when writing the MPEG-2 file. The Sony took second and third place in the two Dual Layer tests, but youâ€™ll still be waiting over 40 minutes.
Results were pretty solid in both DVD+RW and DVD-RW, with the Sony holding a top three place in all six tests. DVD-R performance was less impressive, with the Sony languishing near the bottom of all the graphs. When it comes to CD media, the Sony puts in a decent performance when burning CD-R discs, but CD-RW speeds are middle of the road.
The Sony DRU-710A is a decent DVD writer, with the added advantage of having changeable fascias to suite your PC. The specifications are fairly basic, but no more so than much of the competition. However, whereas the other basic drives cost below Â£50, the cheapest price we could find for the Sony was Â£69.32.
Considering the high price, itâ€™s hard to recommend the Sony. You could buy the LG for less and add DVD-RAM support to the list of features, or you could save even more money and buy the NEC with its lightning fast write speeds.
The DRU-710A is not a bad drive, but Sony has priced it out of the market. With the superior NEC and LG drives available for less, your money is better spent elsewhere, unless you just have to have that silver/transparent finish.