The big developments at the moment all concern dual-layer (DL) technology. Dual-layer burning means you can store far more on one disc: 8.5GB rather than the 4.7GB allowed with standard media. The downside is that this adversely affects performance speeds - earlier drives ran at just 2.4-speed. Of course, manufacturers have found it possible to eke a little extra speed out of the technology, and the best of today's models can record to DVD+R DL and (the newer) DVD-R DL media at six- and eight-speed.
All of which makes it a little surprising that the new Toshiba isn't, well, newer. The SD-5472's specifications are decent, but the much-vaunted DVD+R DL capabilities only run as high as six-speed. DVD-R DL is even less impressive, with just quad-speed provided.
It's rather strange that such a new drive (even as we went to press, online retailers had yet to get in stock) shouldn't be released with six-speed DVD-R DL and eight-speed DVD+R DL.
The real-world performance of this drive is decent but not world-beating. Five minutes and 12 seconds to record 3GB of data to a DVD+R puts it very much on a respectable footing. The gap between the Toshiba and some of its more illustrious rivals does narrow once DVD-R speed is taken into account, though, and the SD-5472 manages to impress in terms of DVD+R DL, copying a dual-layer disc in just under 21 minutes. It should be said, however, that for dual-layer needs, there are faster devices out there for both +R and -R DL.