Obviously with any major format change, compatibility is paramount. The properties and reflectivity of a DVD+R DL really need to be as close to a pressed DVD-9 disc as possible in order to achieve maximum compatibility. Optical media giant Verbatim is well aware of how important compatibility is, with the company’s Optical Director Ryuhei Sato stating “Compatibility was a top priority in developing our Double Layer media.”
So, now that we’ve covered the background, how did the NEC ND2510A perform? Well, as far as dual layer writing goes, I couldn’t do too much testing, since I only had a single disc which NEC supplied. The disc itself is produced by Mitsubishi Chemical, which is Verbatim’s parent company. I did contact Verbatim Europe, which supplies TrustedReviews with media for testing, but was told that there was no dual layer media available yet. Verbatim has however promised to ship me over some blank dual layer discs as soon as they come in.
The NEC ND2510A can burn to DVD+R DL discs at 2.4-speed, which is pretty slow by today’s standards. That said, if you’re going to write 8.5GB of data, you’re probably going to make yourself a cup of coffee while you’re waiting anyway. I burned 7.9GB of data to the dual layer disc, made up of a single MPEG2 file and a DVD ISO image. It took 41 minutes and eight seconds to burn the whole 7.9GB to DVD+R DL, which is obviously a lot longer than burning two 4.7GB discs, but dual layer is more about convenience than speed.
The files copied to the disc without incident and were accessible using the ND2510A. However, when I tried reading the disc on a number of other DVD drives, things weren’t so rosy. Inserting the DL disc in a Samsung SD-616Q DVD-ROM, an Iomega DVD writer, a Sony DRU18A DVD writer and a Sony DDU-1612 DVD-ROM drive all resulted in failure. None of the drives could see the disc, let alone any files on it. However, when I loaded the disc into a second Sony DDU-1612 DVD-ROM drive it worked perfectly. With this in mind, I flashed the latest firmware into the other Sony DVD-ROM drive, and sure enough it read the dual layer disc without any problems.
So it looks like there could be some compatibility issues with older drives, but a good old firmware flash could sort it all out. Obviously newer drives will be produced with support for the dual layer format from the outset.
There is one important aspect of dual layer DVD writing that’s worth noting though. As dual layer discs and writers become more prevalent, I can see the cottage DVD copying industry growing at an alarming rate. The one thing that has held off DVD movie copying is the fact that you have to split most films over two discs, or degrade the quality to fit it on one. Now however, for those who want to copy DVD movies, it’s pretty much a straight rip and burn procedure.