- Review Price: £85.00
It seems that as every month passes, DVD writers become faster and cheaper. This is not a bad situation for anyone in the market for such a device, but it does make one wonder when the best time to put your money on the table is.
We’ve looked at a couple of drives in the past that could burn DVD+R media at eight-speed and DVD+RW at four-speed, but this latest drive from NEC has taken the next performance step.
The specification of the ND-2500A is very impressive. It will write DVD-R/+R media at eight-speed, DVD-RW/+RW media at four-speed, CD-R media at 32-speed and CD-RW media at 16-speed. As you can see from these figures, this is the first drive to arrive at TrustedReviews with the ability to write DVD-R and DVD-RW at eight-speed and four-speed respectively.
Of course the problem with new drive standards, is that it usually takes a while before media is available to make use of it. However, I was able to get some very early samples of eight-speed DVD-R and four-speed DVD-RW media from Verbatim, in order to test this NEC to its full potential.
I received the full retail box from NEC, which is a pretty good package as far as retail bundles go. Besides the drive itself, you get an audio cable, a set of mounting screws and most importantly, an IDE cable. To get you started, NEC has included a blank eight-speed DVD+R disc and a blank four-speed DVD+RW disc. Both pieces of media are Verbatim branded, so NEC hasn’t skimped on the quality.
You also get a proper paper installation manual and a pretty generous software bundle. On the bundled DVD-ROM you’ll find Nero Burning ROM 6 SE, Nero Vision eXpress 2, Nero Cover Designer, Nero Recode, Nero BackITup, Sonic MyDVD, Sonic CinePlayer and ShowBiz.
The drive itself looks fairly unremarkable, finished in standard PC beige, although it is also available in black. The tray sports logos for DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW and CD-R/RW. On the front there’s a single eject button, an indicator light, a manual eject hole, a headphone socket and volume wheel.
To test the DVD writing performance I burned a 4.3GB MPEG-2 file, 4.5GB of mixed files and applications and 4.3GB of digital images. For the re-writable DVD media I also recorded the time it took to perform a full format. With CD-R media I burned a single 700MB file and 600MB of mp3 files, while for CD-RW media I again timed a full format and burned the same 600MB of mp3 files.
The NEC is definitely a very fast drive, although there is nothing that I can compare the DVD-R/RW performance to because this is the first drive we’ve seen sporting such high speeds. I am however in the process of testing a similarly specified drive from Teac, so there will be something to compare the –R/RW scores with soon.
With DVD+R media the NEC turned in times slightly faster than the MSI DR8-A, while the gap opened up a little wider when using DVD+RW media. What sets the NEC apart from the MSI though, is the fact that it can produce similar times using DVD-R/RW media. It’s also worth noting that the NEC is happy to write at eight-speed to good quality four-speed DVD-RW media.
Strangely, the NEC did seem to be sensitive to the type of media used and although it performed flawlessly using Verbatim four-speed DVD+RW discs, it had trouble formatting four-speed TDK +RW media. Flashing a new firmware helped, but didn’t completely dispel the problem.
Where the NEC does lose out to the MSI is in the CD performance, with 32-speed and 16-speed compared to 40-speed and 24-speed for CD-R and CD-RW respectively. That said, just over three and a half minutes to burn a 700MB CD-R is perfectly acceptable, and just under five minutes to copy 600MB of mp3 files to CD-RW isn’t bad either.
Another minor media issue is that the ND-2500A refuses to use 32-speed CD-RW discs. Although this isn’t a major surprise since it’s only rated at 16-speed, it’s still worth remembering when buying new discs. It was however perfectly happy with 24-speed CD-RW media, but of course still only wrote to it at 16-speed.
With cutting edge technology you expect to pay a price premium, especially from a big brand like NEC. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to find the ND-2500A retail box for only £84.60. That’s a pretty impressive price for a brand new product with cutting edge spec. However, if you’re only after the drive and can live without the retail bundle, I managed to find the OEM drive for sale at Scan for an incredible £66.98.
It’s pretty much impossible not to recommend the NEC ND-2500A. The feature set is superb, the performance is first rate and even the retail bundle is stacked to the gills. Plus, if you can live with just a bare OEM drive, the price is a complete steal.
A truly excellent DVD writer from NEC at an incredible price. If it wasn’t for the minor issues with some types of media the ND-2500A would be walking away with an Editor’s Choice award. As it stands though, it deservedly wins a Recommended award.
To compare these results with the MSI DR8-A click here
All tests were performed using Verbatim branded media.
Score in detail
Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.