This review appears in the November 06 issue of PC Advisor, available now in all good newsagents.

The Sony came in just too late to appear in this month's DVD writer round-up (see November issue, page 118). This is a shame, since it arguably represents the best deal for those who must have top-flight DVD+R and –R recording.

Like the Plextor PX-760A and Samsung SH-S182D, this drive can write to DVD+R and –R at 18-speed. But overall, it doesn't match the specifications of the fantastic Plextor. On the Sony, DVD+R DL (double layer) is only available at eight-speed, whereas the Plextor hits 10-speed. On the upside, the Sony also hits eight-speed with DVD-R DL media, while the Plextor has to be content with six-speed.

Rewrite speeds are identical, and the Sony does support DVD-RAM at 12-speed – a format not covered by the Plextor. The Sony's specifications are identical to those of the Samsung SH-S182D, although the Sony was more consistent in real-world tests.

The Sony comes without cables and software, so if you don't have some already, add them to your shopping list. Suitable software is a priority – Scan.co.uk has some very nice deals on Ahead Nero.

Sony AW-G170A: Specs

  • 16x/18x/18x/8x/8x/6x/8x/12x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • 48x/48x/32x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW)
  • EIDE interface
  • max DVD storage capacity 8.5GB
  • drive buffer 2MB
  • average access time (DVD) 160ms
  • no software, cables or screws
  • 2-year warranty
  • 16x/18x/18x/8x/8x/6x/8x/12x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • 48x/48x/32x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW)
  • EIDE interface
  • max DVD storage capacity 8.5GB
  • drive buffer 2MB
  • average access time (DVD) 160ms
  • no software, cables or screws
  • 2-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

This is a strong drive: better value for money than the expensive Plextor PX-760A, and a more consistent overall performer than the Samsung SH-S182D. At £23, the AW-G170A is a pretty good deal.

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