I had a horrible run of luck with a Toshiba DVD-ROM drive (see my dabs.com story for the gruesome details), so I got this one. I thought the slot drive looked really cool and had heard good things about this drive. Everything was true. The speed is excellent, the slot takeup of discs is just right - not so slow that you feel like you're shoving it in, but not so fast that it gobbles the disc out of your hand like a sugar cube deficient donkey. It has been 100% reliable so far and performs good digital audio extraction (a must for listening to CDs properly and for ripping to MP3). If I had to make a complaint, it's all too easy to leave a disc in the drive and shut down your computer. As there is no emergency eject (too complicated to implement I suppose) you have to power up the machine to eject your disc. I'm sure you get Windows programs that will eject the drive at shutdown. I've always meant to look into that. Of course, being a slot drive, you can't use small (8cm) or odd shaped discs (like those business card shaped ones) - but it's a small price to pay. All in all, unless you have to have a tray for odd shaped discs, this is the one to go for.
Pioneer's DVD-106S is Pioneer's top DVD-ROM drive (in terms of spec) that they currently produce (at the time of writing). It boasts a 16x DVD read speed, and 40x for CD-ROMs. The one major difference with this DVD-ROM drive compared to other DVD drives is that this has a slot mechanism rather than a tray that pops out when you press the eject button. However, if you don't like the idea of a slot, you can get the "identical" drive but with a tray. That one is called the Pioneer DVD-116. The slot-in design makes the drive look very nice once fitted into your computer. Installation is simple. Open the case. Find a free drive bay. Put drive in and screw screws in. Plug power cable in, and connect IDE cable. Connect digital audio cable if available and set jumper to Master, Slave or cable select, depending on your settings. Since I have my hard drive running in Master, I have this drive in Slave as they are on the same cable. Another nice feature is the ATAPI interface that boasts transfer speed of 66Mbs. UDMA66. My motherboard supports this and so it works well. Most DVD/CD drives only support up to UDMA33, but UDMA66 just makes it that much faster. Note: you need a purpose designed cable to attain UDMA66 or higher standards. As far as I can tell, it can read almost any DVD/CD format apart from DVD-RAM, which are slightly more complicated (and expensive), but they aren't currently that popular due to their price so it doesn't really matter. Access times are also great: High speed average access time: DVD-ROM: 95 MS, CD-ROM: 80 ms High speed average seek time: DVD-ROM: 85ms, CD-ROM: 70 ms The lower these figures the faster it is! Simple as that. High data transfer rate: DVD-ROM: 6.6X - 16X (8.9MB/s-21.6MB/s), CD-ROM: 17.2X - 40X(2.6MB/s-6.0MB/s). These figures show great transer rates compared to older DVD drives. Noise: On Pioneer's website,
they say that it is 2dB quieter than DVD-115 & DVD-114, older drives. However they don't state the actual sound level of this drive. From my experience of running this drive, I can't say it is quiet, simply because it's not. Compare the sound level to other drives, it is considerably quieter. I have also noticed that when I put my finger over the slot it blocks out a considerable amount of noise. When I find time, I think I might just add a few bits to my computer. Back to the slot-in mechanism. You push in the CD about 3/4 of the way, then something grabs it by the edges, sucking your CD inside. It then starts spinning. When you eject it, it pushes is out so that the hole in the middle can be accessed easily. Pioneer has done this so that it reduces the amount of touching on the surfaces of the CD, and if used properly, you should never need to touch the surface of the CD, thus reducing scratching. Region coding on DVDs. Not many people think about this when buying DVDs. But if you like to get stuff from all round the world, it'll be quite hard to watch them if the drive does not support that region. This drive DOES have region coding. Default factory setting is 0. When you insert a DVD, i.e. Region 2, it will change that setting to 2. Should you insert one that is Region 4, it would change to 4. The number of changes allowed is 5. After the 5th, you can't do anything. Well that's what they want you to think. I've heard one case where someone tried it, but now they are unable to read DVDs, so proceed with caution. I have made my drive completely region free. So that it will read any DVDs. The drive version was originally 1.09, but I upgraded it by flashing the chip with a patched version of 1.09 which makes it region free. Note: the procedure must be done carefully or you can ruin the drive, and you do so at your *own* risk! The DVD drive must be connected on the secondary IDE port and set to master
. Boot into DOS via a start up disk (not under Windows!). Run the flash program, and once complete restart the computer. I can't remember the site for patch, but I have a copy of it for this drive only!! DVD-106s. Searching on the internet is how I found it, and be warned that if you can't see the exact model number for your drive that will patch it, don't go for a similar one, as it will quite possibly ruin your drive. If it isn't there, just wait for another time. Finally, I bought this drive from Dabs.com (see below). It was the OEM version, because I don't really need the retail product. What you miss in the OEM version is a nice box (which you'll throw out anyway), 2 DVDs with a game and software on. However, the one at dabs comes with a differet drive, that is not as high class as this one, but still performs just as good. Another highly recommended product, epsecially for replacing CD-ROM drives that are too fast (read my short but important opinion on Aopen's 52x CDROM). __________________________________ Pioneer DVD-106S. 16x DVD 40x CD. OEM £66.97 inc. VAT @Dabs.com QuickLinx: X15WS ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
For some time now Pioneer has been producing great DVD-ROM drives. This new 16x model is no slouch. Personally I have the 10x version of this drive in the tray-load variety, but I have installed, and worked with many of this new model of drive. Traditionally, slot-load drives have been noisier than their tray-load counterparts but Pioneer have really cleaned up with this drive. This one spins up quickly, which in the past has been another major fault of DVD drives, it's time seeking tracks is impressive as well. Match this drive with a Realmagic Hollywood Plus DVD decoder, and you have a killer combination, and you needn't have a killer system to enjoy DVD movies on your computer.