Sony DRU-500A   











DVD-plater som kan brukes

Sony DRU-500A firmware upgrade 1.0e

Firmvare oppgradering info

Date: 25.10.2002

The alphabet soup of competing DVD-recording formats is enough to make anyone's head spin. How do you know if the DVD you just burned will work with your home DVD player? And will it also run on your computer's DVD-ROM drive? With the Sony DRU-500A internal DVD burner, you no longer have to worry. This remarkable drive is the first to support all four popular formats (DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, and DVD+RW), but it also offers superb performance and packs a comprehensive software bundle, all at a very affordable price. If you need a DVD burner, look no further than the DRU-500A.

Here I am, baby
Out of the box, the $350 Sony DRU-500A looks sleek. Like most burners, it comes with an IDE cable, mounting screws, illustrated hardware and software quick-start guides, one 2.4X DVD+RW, and a software CD. You can get the burner up and running within minutes, provided you possess a basic understanding of your computer's innards and know how to use a Phillips screwdriver. If not, the CD contains an in-depth and helpful electronic user guide with step-by-step instructions. Alas, while the drive works with PCs running Windows 98 SE, 2000, Me, and XP, it's not Mac compatible.

The DRU-500A also comes with a generous list of software titles for all your recording-related needs. It includes Veritas RecordNow for mastering both writable and rewritable DVDs and CDs; Veritas Simple Backup for backing up data; Sonic MyDVD, which turns your home movies into video DVDs; ArcSoft ShowBiz for video editing; MusicMatch Jukebox, which lets you play, record, and organize your music; and CyberLink PowerDVD 4.0 for DVD-movie playback.

So what's missing? The software CD fails to include Veritas DLA (Drive Letter Access) packet-writing software, which lets you drag and drop files onto rewritable discs. Sony does provide a link to a Web site (which Sony says will be live in November), where users can download it for free. You can also download a free copy of Veritas RecordNow DX, a more comprehensive version of the user-friendly, wizard-oriented Veritas RecordNow.

One drive to write them all
Because the DRU-500A supports all four recordable formats, you won't have to choose one DVD-recording format over another. Instead, simply select the media most compatible with your existing DVD player and DVD-ROM drive, then start recording.

Once you do, you'll be amazed at how quickly this drive does its job. It writes DVD-RW media at 2X and DVD-R at 4X, double the current speed of other products on the market. The DRU-500A's speed for DVD+R/DVD+RW media remains at the industry-standard 2.4X, however. The drive also burns CD-Rs at 24X and CD-RWs at 10X. To prevent buffer-underrun errors, it features an 8MB buffer memory and Power-Burn technology.

Fast and furious
Because of the Sony's multiformat support, we had to run more tests on the DRU-500A than on other DVD burners. However, thanks to its swift performance, the job wasn't too time-consuming. In our labs' tests, it burned our 3.24GB test movie (960MB after compression) to DVD-R in only 4 minutes, 49 seconds, or about 3.32MB per second. By comparison, the slower-rated Pioneer DVR-A04 DVD-RW took 7 minutes, 23 seconds (about 2.17MB per second). When we switched to 2.4X DVD+R media to burn the same movie, the Sony took 5 minutes, 19 seconds (about 3.01MB per second), a tad faster than the HP DVD-Writer DVD200i.

In packet-writing tests, the DRU-500A once again rocked the chart. It recorded 500MB to DVD+RW in only 2 minutes, 34 seconds--more than twice the speed of the HP. And though 2X DVD-RW media remains scarce, Sony did manage to send us two precious discs in time for testing. Using the new high-speed media, we noticed a significant speed boost over current-generation DVD-R/-RW drives; it took the DRU-500A just 3 minutes, 16 seconds to write the same 500MB directory.

The DRU-500A also did very well with CDs. It burned a 43-minute audio CD in only 3 minutes, 2 seconds and recorded 400MB to a CD-RW in only 5 minutes, 29 seconds--comparable scores to those of most current, high-speed CD burners.

In read tests, however, the DRU-500A performed a little slower than the HP. It took 1 minute, 53 seconds and 3 minutes, 8 seconds to copy a 383MB file and a 500MB folder back onto the hard drive, respectively.

Open weekends
Sony backs the DRU-500A with a standard, one-year limited warranty. Toll-free tech support is available Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. PT, and Sony's Web site features a useful support library for PC storage, including manuals, drivers, software patches, FAQs, and e-mail support.

With its competitive price, multiformat support, and long list of software, the Sony DRU-500A is a one-stop drive for anyone who wants to burn home movies or music, as well as archive data without having to worry about compatibility. In short, it's simply the coolest and the best deal among all burners we've tested.


Interface   EIDE
Read formats supported   DVD-ROM, DVD-Video, DVD+RW, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD-R, CD-ROM, CD-DA, Video CD, Photo CD (multi-session), CD TEXT, CD Extra and others
Model first available   October 1, 2002
Write formats supported   Disc at once, track at once, session at once, packet writing (DVD): Random Access Write (DVD+RW/DVD-RW), Sequential Write (DVD+R/+RW, DVD-R/-RW)
Type   Internal
Maximum write speed (primary format)   2.4X
Warranty on parts/labor   1 year
Compatible operating systems   Windows 98SE, 2000, Me, XP
Maximum read speed (primary format)   8X
Maximum rewrite speed (primary format)   2.4X
Maximum formatted capacity   4.7GB


Write test (383MB) DVD+RW: Time, in minutes, to perform tasks. Lower scores are better.

Sony Electronics DRU-500A 1.9
Average Score 3.29

Write test (500MB) DVD+RW: Time, in minutes, to perform tasks. Lower scores are better.

Sony Electronics DRU-500A 2.57
Average Score 4.51

Write test (movie): Movie files vary in size due to different compression rates, so write speed is measured in MB per second (Higher scores are better)

Sony Electronics DRU-500A 3.32
Average Score 2.43

Read test (383MB): Time, in minutes, to perform tasks. Lower scores are better.

Sony Electronics DRU-500A 1.9
Average Score 1.67

Read test (500MB): Time, in minutes, to perform tasks. Lower scores are better.

Sony Electronics DRU-500A 3.13
Average Score 3.2

Write test (383MB) DVD-RW: Time, in minutes, to perform tasks. Lower scores are better.

Sony Electronics DRU-500A 2.41


Write test (500MB) DVD-RW: Time, in minutes, to perform tasks. Lower scores are better.

Sony Electronics DRU-500A 3.26


Editors' Rating 8.8
Service and support 8
Setup and ease of use 9
Performance 9
Features 9



Sony DRU-500A DVD-R/+R review

DVD recording is gradually catching on with consumers, but confusion over the two leading formats, DVD+RW and DVD-RW, has hampered sales. Analysts say potential buyers don't want to buy an expensive device--often costing upwards of $500--that could soon become a market also-ran.

Sony's solution is simple: the consumer electronics giant will sell an internal and an external PC drive that reads and writes to DVD+RW/+R and DVD-RW/-R discs.

Now, the drive is available... and time to be tested.

The specifications for this drive (source:

  • 2.4X max. DVD+R Write; 2.4X max. DVD+RW Write; 4X max. DVD-R Write; 2X max. DVD-RW Write; 8X max. DVD-ROM Read 4X, 12X, 16X, 24Xmax. CD-R Write; 4X, 10X max. CD-RW Write, 32X max. CD-ROM Read Random Access Time:
    DVD: 200ms
    CD: 160ms
  • Buffer Memory: 8MB
  • Buffer Underrun Protection Technology
  • Supported disc format: DVD-ROM, DVD R, DVD RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, CD-DA, CD-ROM (XA), Video CD, Photo CD (multi-session), CD Text, CD Extra and others.
  • Software Contents:
    Veritas RecordNow: Recording Software
    Vertias DLA: Packet Writing Software
    Sonic MyDVD: DVD Authoring Software
    Cyberlink PowerDVD: DVD-Video Playing software
    Vertias Simple Back-Up: Back-Up and Disaster recovery software
    MusicMatch Jukebox: Play, Record, and Organize your personal music.
  • System Requirements:
    Pentium III 400 Mhz (MyDVD: Pentium III 700 Mhz) or faster PC recommended.
    Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows 2000 Professional, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows XP Home or Professional
    64 MB of RAM (MyDVD: 128 MB) and 1 GB (MyDVD: 5 GB) free HDD space is recommended.
But how is this drive really? Does it perform as promised? Does it write any media? Does it read discs well? We will see in this review if Sony has done it!

The drive

I just received the drive (finally!). My drive was ordered from Retail Express (Resellers only).
The drive comes in a retail box. This box includes the drive (duh!), an Sony DVD+RW disc (4.7Gb), some paperwork (Quickstart guide, both drive and software, a user guide of the drive, some information about specific OS versions / DVD media and some warranty information.) Also included is an IDE flatcable, and some software. The software comes on 2 discs, supporting many languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch and on the second disc: Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Swedish, Portuguese, Korean and Japanese. I couldn't find any mounting screws...... For me not a problem, i have many of them, but maybe i'm just unlucky and will they usally with the drive, i don't know.

Click to enlarge

On the front of the drive there are of course the symbols of the standards the drive can write: DVD R/RW, Compact Disc Rewritable (high-speed) and a DVD+RW logo. There is only 1 button on the drive: Eject. A very light push is enough to eject the tray.
There is 1 led on the front, and an emergency hole (to open the tray by hand). No headphones or volume or whatever, just plain basic.

Click to enlarge

On the back of the drive the connectors: a power supply connector, an IDE connector,the usual master/slave jumpers, a digital output, and an analog audio-out. Nothing new, just as any drive. The recorder does not have any specific cooling (no fans like the Pioneer A04 for example).

Click to enlarge

The inside of the drive looks also just simple, like any drive ;) (I couldn't resist it to open the case ;)

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge


The drive comes with some Recording software and tools. All software is bundled with the retail version of the recorder and supports multiple languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch and on the second disc: Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Swedish, Portuguese, Korean and Japanese.

These include Veritas Record Now, Veritas DLA, Veritas Simple Backup, MusicMatch Jukebox, Sonic MyDVD and Cyberlink PowerDVD. Also contains the disc both software manual and user guide in HTML format. Online manuals and guides are also in multiple languages.

RecordNow is the main CD/DVD mastering program included with the DRU-500A. Along with the ability to make backup copies of CD's and DVD's, this program allows the user to starting creating their own custom discs within minutes thanks to some easy to follow wizards.
The version of the included program is 4.50

Sony will allow users to download a free upgrade to RecordNow DX sometime in November.

VERITAS Simple Backup
Simple Backup is a fast and easy way to backup your computer. The interface allows you to backup and restore your entire system thanks to its easy to follow wizards.
The full system backup protects your computer's data and registry at the click of a button. If you don't need to backup everything, you can manually select the files and folders you want to protect through the custom backup. Simple Backup also offers more advanced backup features like compression and spanning. With the built in compression option, you can fit up to 1.2GB of data onto a CD.

Arcsoft ShowBiz
For video editing duties, Sony has included Showbiz from Arcsoft. ShowBiz allows you to drag and drop your video footage directly onto the editing timeline. From here you can add transitions, background music, special effects or custom text.
Once you're done you can customize the sample rate and frame size and export your video to AVI or MPEG format. You can also turn it into a QuickTime or Windows Media movie to get it ready for internet streaming. Otherwise, you can export it to a MyDVD project for further customization.

Sonic MyDVD 4.0
MyDVD allows you to create your own VCD's and DVD's quickly and easily. Sonic has revamped the interface for version 4.0. Right from the start, MyDVD gives you a variety of options including the ability to create a DVD, a Video CD or edit video.
The main interface is very different from what we saw on earlier versions of MyDVD. The "toolbar" is gone and has been replaced by a much nicer layout. The main functions of MyDVD are still easily accessible. From here you can start new projects, open existing projects or save the one you're currently working on.

Adding movie clips to your current project is as easy as drag and drop. MyDVD lets you take any MPEG-1, MPEG-2, AVI or QuickTime video clip and add it to your project. Of course there is a trade off here. Even with a fairly fast computer, MyDVD can take a good amount of time to convert the clips into a usable format. MyDVD also allows you to make your own custom menus and will even let you add your own pictures, icons and sound effects. Unfortunately, version 4.0 still doesn't let you place the menu icons where you want them.
Need to capture some video clips from your VCR or other video source? No problem, MyDVD can do that too. You can also start the record direct-to-Disc wizard from here. This wizard allows you to easily transfer video directly from a DV camcorder to disc if you have the right hardware.

MusicMatch Jukebox 7.1
This is a popular utility to create, manage and organize all sorts of multimedia audio files, including MP3s. Once you've created the perfect play list they can then be burned to CD.
Unfortunately the number of burns is limited to only five. Once you've gone beyond this, you will need to upgrade to MusicMatch Jukebox Plus.

CyberLink PowerDVD 4.0 XP
CyberLink's PowerDVD is one of the more popular software DVD players on the market now. PowerDVD offers a complete set of navigation commands, including advanced features like multi-angle viewing, multi-language and subtitle selection, digital zoom and even parental control. As the name might suggest, version PowerDVD 4.0 XP fully supports Windows XP. It is also compatible with files created by Microsoft's Windows Media products.
The PowerDVD version on the disc is for Sony only. It won't install on a system without a Sony DVDRom.


The drive is easy to install, just like any CD writer or DVD player or whatever. Simply set the master/slave jumper, and connect the power and IDE cable, and optionally the audio connector(s). The testsystem (Gigabyte 8IDML, Intel Celeron 1700, 256Mb, 30Gb 7200rpm, WinXP Pro SP1) recognizes the drive as a DVD-R station. Windows accepted the drive without problems, and automatically turned on DMA for the drive. Next step: Run Nero Infotool (1.03.2) to see what the drive supports. As you see, the drive seems to support overburning also. We will test this later.

As you can see, the drive supports almost all functions ;)
Nero (version is installed on the test PC. Nero reports:

And finally: this is what CloneCD ( thinks about the drive,

The Veritas Recordnow software recognizes the drive also of course (it's bundled with the recorder). The program works, but I won't recommend to install it. It only can copy 1:1, and make a new complilation. That's all, only the very basic functions.
I prefer Nero. The latest version ( does support the Sony DRU-500A.

Reading CDs

Now it's time to do some tests. How does this drive perform while reading a normal CD? I used Nero CD speed to do this tests.

Pressed CDs

The first test: Read a pressed CD (the CD that came with the drive, containing the software)

As you can see, the drive performs very good, at the end the 32x speed is reached. The avarage speed while reading is 24.44x as you can see. This is a little slower than the Philips DVDRW228 (as tested on However, using CAV, the drive is able to reach it's maximum speed of 32x, while the Philips couldn't get >28x.

The seek times have been tested also:
  • Random seek: 193 ms
  • 1/3 seek: 211 ms
  • Full seek: 268 ms
The spin-up time of the drive is reported at 2.93 seconds. Spin-down time is 3.37 seconds.

The load-eject test:
  • Eject time: 1.46 seconds
  • Load time: 1.32 seconds
  • Recognation time: 7.16 seconds

Recorded CDs (CD-R)

The same test as above. This time using a CDR disk. (A new Platinum 80-min, with a fresh-burned NFS HP2 ISO, recorded on my 12x Sanyo writer)

As you can see, the drive reads without problems and does perform simular to a pressed CD.

Audio CD (DAE)

What does this drive do with an audio CD? How does extract audio cd's? Time to test!
The results:

The read speed of the drive is very good. It is faster than the Philips 228 DVDRW, and faster than the Pioneer A04. The Pioneer A05 performs almost equal at this point. The drive does not support reading CD Text, however, i'm not sure about it, since the CD which is used in this test didn't have CD-Text on it. (i couldn't burn it with nero cdspeed).

The read speed of an audio CD (an old MTV Audio CD, Pressed (but not legal ;)):

Also here: Very good results. The drive reads audio cd at an avarage speed of 23.79x


Reading a CDRW:

Reading CDRW is of course not a problem for the drive.

Reading DVDs

The drive should read DVDs at a speed of 8x. Now we will see if the drive really can do this.

Pressed DVDs

In this test I will try to read a pressed DVD. (Twilight 74)

As you can see, the drive starts at 3.3x, and ends at 8.01x. So reading pressed DVD's is no problem for the drive, only the CPU load goes up to 80% @ 8x reading.

Recorded DVDs

Now the same test as above, but this time a recorded DVD (A copy of a MP3 Collection DVD. Burned on an Arita DVD-R with a Pioneer A03 writer)

This is bad... As already mentioned on some forums, the drive seems to be locked at 2x max... It just won't read DVD-R above 2x. The drive can write DVD-R at 4x (with the right media offcourse) but can't read it that fast ;)

Pressed DVD-Video

Reading a DVD movie: Payback. Region 2, DVD-5 format (Single Sided, single layer)

Also bad performance. The drive won't read above 2x. Enough for playing a movie, but way too slow for ripping or whatever. DVD-Video (pressed) has also been tested with SmartRipper, but also: 2x max reading :(
Lets hope Sony will fix this issue with a firmwareupdate.
For this moment (and maybe forever) an additional DVD-Rom is not a bad idea.


The last DVD read test: How does the drive read a DVD+RW disc? (The one which is included with the drive)

The drive reads DVD+RW disc at the same speed as it can write them: 2.5x. The error on the end is due to a bad record, i have screwed my DVD+RW and don't have another one to test it again ;). Don't blame the drive for that!

Recording CD-R

The drive has a recording speed of 24x. This is faster than the Philips, Pioneer, or any other DVD writer. Now the drive will be a real replacement for your current writer. The Pioneer for example records only at 8x, so you most likely will need/want an additional writer for the normal CDs. This Sony has solved this, by writing CD-R at 24x. Not as fast as the current recorders (40/48x) but most of the time fast enough.

Recording CD-R

Writing an image from the harddisk to a Platinum CDR (40x certified):

Writing goes ok. Nero ( supports the drive. As you can see, the CD was finished in 3min 45.

Recording CD-R - CLV speed

See how the recorder actually records. (using Z-CLV)

As you can see above, the Sony DRU-500A writer uses Z-CLV to record a disk. Starting at 16x, going 20x, and finish the CD at 24x.

Recording CD-R - Overburning

What does the Sony DRU-500A think of big CDs? 90min, 99min, and even 100min? This test will see what it does. I used some white-label 100min CD-R for this test. Nero CDSpeed identicates the media as "Plasmon"

The drive is not good at overburning. As you can see, the Sony can only overburn up to 80.42.53... Not that much, but not a real problem.

Recording CDRW

The Sony is able to rewrite CDRWs at a speed of 10x using high-speed media.

Nero rewrites the disk at 10x without problems. The full cd is written at 10x.

Recording DVD-R / DVD-RW

The drive supports both DVD-R and DVD+R standards. At DVD-R, Sony supports up to 4x write speed.
Time to test the performance while recording DVD-R.

All tests are done by burning about 4.3Gb from another data-DVD in a LG 16x DVDRom. (Twilight 76). No image file is used, recordings are on-the-fly

The drive has a medialock. This means: The drive determines its max recording speed which should be used for the specific media. The Pioneer has also this lock, but with a hacked firmware you can force a recording at 2x, while the media isn't 2x approved. For the Sony... at the moment no hacked firmware.

Thats Write! DVD-R Spindel

As you can see, the drive detects the disc as a 1x DVD-R, and records it succesfully at 1x.

Princo 1-2x DVD-R DVD-Box

This disc is succesfully written at 2x.

I did also test some other media:
  • Nashua DVD-R
  • Thats Write! DVD-R DVD-Box
  • Arita DVD-R DVD-Box
They all recorded at 1x.... For this moment, the Princo DVD-R is the only one which is able to record at 2x.
I'm going to test more brands later this week, and hope to find some 4x media (if they are already available)

Recording DVD-RW

I don't have any DVD-RW disc at the moment, so this test will be added whenever I have them.

Recording DVD+R / DVD+RW

Platinum DVD+R

Disc succesfully recorded at 2.5x. However, I wasn't able to read the recorded disc, most likely due to some errors on the original DVD.

Recording DVD+RW

This is done on a Sony DVD+RW disc, the one that came with the drive.

As you can see, formatting the DVD+RW media took about 29 seconds. Burning DVD+RW has the same speed as burning at DVD+R. (2.5x)

Since I don't have any other DVD+R / DVD+RW media, I can't test more DVD+R, maybe next week.


Sony has done a nice job with this drive. As you could see, there are good results with the drive. The software that came with the drive works, but I would suggest another recording program. RecordNow is way to limited.
The bad side of the drive are the DVD read speeds. 2x DVD.... you will hate this if you try to rip a movie. If you just want to watch a DVD, than the 2x is enough. This low speed makes the drive very quiet. However, I prefer faster reading speeds. Maybe Sony will come with a firmware upgrade. Till that time, I won't replace your DVD-Rom by this recorder and make sure you have an additional DVD-Rom when you need some DVD read speed.

The other dark side is not really the drive itself, but the availability of high-speed DVD media. I have only 1 brand which supports 2x at the moment, and haven't seen (or tested) any 4x certified media yet.

The CDR recording speed is good. At this point, the Sony is the fastest DVD recorder on the market with CDR speeds. The good-old Pioneer A04 records only at 8x, and the new A05 only at 16x. With it's 24x, the Sony wins this point.

For the moment, I can suggest this drive. It is almost the same price as the Pioneer A04, which has not such results, and is slower. Also does the Pioneer not support DVD+R/DVD+RW.
Maybe the new NEC combo drive will beat this Sony, but that will take some time, since that drive is delayed till somewhere in December or so.

Concerning the media there are many questions and problems. Most media will work at only 1x (DVD-R). Older Verbatim 2x DVD-R discs are known to have problems with the Sony drive: See
On the forum is a thread with some user experiences with various media.
Meanwhile, Pioneer has released its A05 drive. This one records DVD-R at 4x. The drive seems to be available in Japan now. (see Akiba). The drive has a price of 29800 Yen. (about $240).

With this drive, Pioneer has also released 4x media (picture). This media is priced about 800 Yen, which equals to about 6,59 EUR. ($6,45). This price is found on a forum, so I don't know it for sure.
Let's hope the 4x media will become mainstream now, so I can test it with the Sony drive!

For all of you who already own this drive: At Sonic Japan you can register for a free upgrade to Sonic MyDVD as soon as it's available.

Update 09-11-2002:
Sony has released a new firmware for this drive: 1.0d. You can download it at the Sony support page. This firmware seems to fix various media problems, see forums for user experiences.

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Copyright © 2002 Øyvind Haugland
Sist endret:  13 januar 2019

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