Sony DWG-120A

Like the Pioneer DVR-111 the DWG-120A from Sony is an OEM drive, so it doesn’t ship in a retail box. As I’ve mentioned before I really don’t think that’s a problem with a DVD writer, since most people will just be sliding out their old drive and sliding in the new one.

The Sony is slightly shorter than some DVD writers, but not massively so – I guess if you have really tight internals in a small form factor system it could make a difference, but you’re talking about 1cm shorter than the Pioneer.

Also like the Pioneer, the fascia of the Sony sports a single eject button, indicator light and manual eject hole – not much to write home about, but everything you need.

Specification wise the Sony ticks all the right boxes. The DWG-120A will burn DVD-R at 16x, DVD+R at 16x, both DVD+R DL and DVD-R DL at 8x, DVD-RW at 6x and DVD+RW at 8x. As always the specifications are subject to the correctly rated media being available, and right now 6x DVD-RW is readily available while 8x DVD+RW media isn’t. That said, 8x DVD+RW discs are starting to appear and I’ll be sure to use the faster media in the next round of tests. The DWG-120 will also write to DVD-RAM discs at 5x, CD-R media at 40x and CD-RW discs at 24x.

In terms of performance, it was the dual layer writing that saw the Sony lose a lot of ground to both the BenQ and Pioneer drives. With all the dual layer tests – both DVD-R DL and DVD+R DL – taking over 25 minutes to complete. To be fair, this wouldn’t have been so bad last year, but the other two drives in this test have moved the dual layer performance up a notch or two.

There are a couple of highlights for the Sony though. The DVD-RW results are pretty good, although no better than the Pioneer, while CD-R performance was also impressive. CD-RW times on the other hand let things down once more though, and DVD-RAM performance was pretty average compared to the competition.

Since it’s a bare drive without a retail bundle, a product like the DWG-120A lives and dies on its performance, unless the price is so low that below par performance can be forgiven. Admittedly, the Sony is the cheapest drive on test, but at less than a pound cheaper than the Pioneer, it’s just not cheap enough.


The Sony DWG-120A isn’t a bad drive by any means, and the price is very attractive. Unfortunately, Pioneer has created a drive that’s far faster than this Sony at roughly the same price, which makes life very difficult for the DWG-120A.

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