DVD drive - mean time failure + Access time

  michelleuk 23:09 03 Feb 2003


I have been looking for a new DVD drive for my computer. And I have a few more questions,

1. The one I have at the moment is a DVD/CD ROM, when I do a search on Dabs I can only find DVD's under DVD, not DVD/CD Rom, why is that?

2. I then can get a list of manufactories and when I look at the different specs I have noticed 'mean time before failure' and 'access time'.

So what specs should I be looking for in a player?

Back to the mean time before failure, I assume this means that when the drive has played for x number of hours it will begin to fail or problems will start, is that correct?

If correct, I suppose it would be better to purchase one that has the highest hour time which appears to be around 120,000. This brings me back to my first question what specs should I be looking at. I don't want a huge list, just the important ones.

I aslo assume 'access time' refers to how long it takes for the dvd drive to begin reading the DVD or CD. How important is this specification, as in the pro's and con's.

Furthermore as I mentioned at the start I cannot find any under DVD/CD Rom, does this mean that not all of them will read and play CD's? Finaly how do I know which player will be ok for my computer, are they all the same as in the fittings are the same across the board?

Thank you and Take Care,


click here (my own site)

  jazzypop 23:31 03 Feb 2003

MTBF (Mean Time Before Failure) is a fairly meaningless statistic in this context.

Supposedly, it is similar to the average lifespan of the product. To take the 120,000hrs quoted...

120,000 / 24 = 5000 days

5000 / 365.25 = 13.7 years

Therefore, the DVD would be able to play continuously for 13.7 years? How on earth did they (sensibly) arrive at that figure? And who on earth is going to try to prove them wrong? And if one should fail after 1 year, does the next one off the production line last for over 27 years?

Access time on a drive is the average time taken to move from one part of the disc to another, e.g. from track 1 to track 2. Slightly more useful, but due to the way that the information is buffered (held in memory), the buffer is always full enough to compensate for any slight pauses while the drive head moves from track to track - you won't notice any pauses.

Any DVD player will be able to play CDs - it's part of the specification.

The simplest guide I can give is - find a DVD player at the price you can afford, and type the name and model number into Google, with the word 'review'. If it has a problem, you will find out, although they are few and far between.

The fittings are just the same as for a CD player - 4 screws to hold it into the case, a connector for power, data, and audio, plus a set of jumpers to allow it to be fitted as a Master or Slave.

The only DVD/CD combo devices you might find are those that combine a DVD player with a CD Writer, or even more rare, a DVD writer and a CD Writer in the same unit.

The fact that manufacturers and suppliers need to resort to such relatively meaningless statistics as MTBF and access time, should illustrate that there is so little to distinguish one model from another. Hence the standard marketing fallback of trying to produce a feature list that is longer than competitors 'the bigger the feature list, the better the product' - wrong!

The only slightly advantageous feature is playing speed. Once software companies start routinely releasing software on DVD, a faster playing speed will allow a programme to be installed from DVD a few seconds quicker. Not really worth spending a lot of money on, in my view, unless you are installing software from DVD daily.

Hope that clarifies, rather than confuses :)

  Irishman 23:42 03 Feb 2003

Excellent answer jazzypop,just to add that it's well worth checking out the software that comes with it.

  jazzypop 23:55 03 Feb 2003

Good point - forgot that one :)

Try to ensure that it has a copy of PowerDVD with it - this is generally acknowledged as the better DVD player.

Just to clarify, you need to install a software program such as PowerDVD in order to be able to view DVDs.

  michelleuk 23:59 03 Feb 2003


Thank you, I must admit the mean time seemed to be a rather unusual stat as it could hardly be proved. Thanks for the clarification of the asses time, for me an my use it is something of very little concern. And if I'm correct you are saying that I have no need to worry about it being the right one as they all fit the same way etc. May I ask what you have, and your view on yours.

Thank you.

Take Care

  jazzypop 00:10 04 Feb 2003

Apparently mine is a Toshiba SD-M1612 (I had to look it up in Device Manager - I couldn't remember!).

All I can say is that I press the eject button, the tray opens. I put a disk in, press the button again, a second or 3 later I have PowerDVD open, and I click play. It plays :)

I don't mean to sound off-hand .... because it just works when I want it to, I rarely give it any thought.

A final thought - many DVDs are re-badged devices that are actually made by Sony, Toshiba etc, and are often sold cheaper with different badges. The reviews that I mentioned in Google will often mention who actually made the drive, as opposed to whose badge is on the front.

There are many reasons why Toshiba would sell their products with a Toshiba badge at a higher price than those without - it doesn't mean that the ones without a Toshiba badge are in any way inferior.

  michelleuk 00:45 04 Feb 2003


Its been done again I'm confused - doesn't take much. What do you mean by the software powerDVD.
I was answering another message and was about to ask Irishman what he meant about software, and then I clciked on my email and saw your reply to Irishman.

How do I know what software I have now? When I play a DVD film 'softDVD3 direct show' starts, is that the software. Assuming it is, and the new DVD comes with a new system, can that software be deleted? Or is it connected to a few other programes?

I have noticed in PC World that all the screens that have a film playing they are using softDVD3. Does the software come down to personal preference as well?

Thank you for you DVD, I shall add Toshiba to my list. I am just getting used to your google set up, I have never used a search engine in that way. As for the price i don't want to be spending too much but the average cost seems to be around £30 which is about right for me and my budget.

Thanks again (both of you) for helping me

Take Care

  jazzypop 01:18 04 Feb 2003

"Zoran softDVD3" is a program that is installed/supplied by Packard Bell, to enable you to watch DVDs. What this program (and all others) do is to 'decode' the information on the disc, and translate it into the sound and pictures that you see. You need this decoder, because Hollywood decided that the data on DVDs should be scrambled to try to prevent copying of movies.

If you look in Control Panel > Add/remove programs, you should see it listed there. It can be (and should be, if you get PowerDVD) uninstalled in the normal manner.

I guess the reason that all the PCs in PCWorld are using Zoran softDVD3, is that they are all Packard Bells.

  michelleuk 02:15 04 Feb 2003


So PowerDVD is just another system that allows you to watch DVD films etc? Or is it something else? For example I only use the DVD side of the DVD/CD Rom to play films, I don't have any DVD software such as a game.


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