Review: Pioneer DVR-A07XLA
Posted Aug 4, 2004

With so many new names now marketing DVD recorders, it's comforting to see an old reliable like Pioneer not only soldier on but continue to roll out solid new products.

Pioneer's latest DVR-A07XLA falls into this category. Pioneer has always played by the book, so it's no surprise that the A07 sticks to the latest official DVD specifications. Thus, the A07 offers 8X DVD±R (Zoned-CLV), 4X DVD±RW (CLV), and 24X CD-R/RW (Z-CLV) writing capabilities. Prerecorded DVDs can be read at 12X (CAV), DVD±R/RWs at 8X (CAV), uncartridged DVD-RAMs at 2X (CLV), prerecorded CD-ROMs and CD-Rs at 40X (CAV), and CD-RWs at 32X (CAV). The drive also reads DVD+R DL discs with a recent firmware upgrade.

The A07 doesn't break any speed records when writing CDs, but still gets the job done in 4:19 for full CD-R discs using Nero CD-DVD Speed 3.0 (a standard industry benchmarking tool). More impressive, however, are the A07's 8X DVD recording credentials: it takes 8:43 to record full Prodisc 8X DVD+R discs (supplied by Compact Disc Media Inc.) and a zippy 7:52 for Taiyo Yuden 8X DVD-R discs (the A07 writes the first 600MB at 6X before switching to 8X for the remainder of the disc). Almost laid-back by comparison, the drive wrote at 4X to Verbatim DVD+RWs in 15:18, and 14:39 to JVC DVD-RWs.

Keep in mind that Pioneer, like most recorder manufacturers, has returned to its old ways, so only approved DVD±R/RW discs can be written at maximum speeds. As of May 25, supported brands of 8X DVD-Rs include Taiyo Yuden, Prodisc, Verbatim/MCC, Maxell, Ritek, Sony, TDK, and Fuji. For 8X DVD+R, the list includes Prodisc, MBI, Taiyo Yuden, Verbatim/MCC, Daxon, Maxell, OptiDisc, Philips, Ricoh, Ritek, CMC, and Sony. Regularly taking the A07 up to full throttle may remain a luxury for a little while longer; many low-cost disc manufacturers have yet to make these approved lists. And 8X DVD-R and 4X DVD±RW discs, of course, are still scarce.

A well-rounded complement of software completes the A07 package and includes Ulead Systems' DVD MovieFactory 3 SE, VideoStudio 7 SE DVD, Photo Explorer 8 SE, My Scrapbook 2, Burn.Now, DVD Player, and NovaStor's NovaBACKUP 7. DVD-9 to 5 recompression is notably absent, however, as is the ability to switch the disc category (book type) of DVD+R/RW discs.

System requirements: 800MHz Pentium 3 (2.4GHz Pentium 4 recommended for DVD authoring) running Windows 98SE/Me/2000/XP; 128MB RAM (256MB recommended); 10GB free hard drive space; half-height internal ATAPI drive bay.

—Hugh Bennett