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.

SD-5472: Specs

  • Supports DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/ +RW formats
  • EIDE interface
  • max CD speeds 48x/48x/40x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW)
  • max DVD speeds 16x/16x/16x/4x/6x/6x/ 8x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW)
  • max DVD capacity 8.5GB
  • 2MB drive buffer
  • 130ms average DVD access time
  • 1-year warranty
  • Supports DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/ +RW formats
  • EIDE interface
  • max CD speeds 48x/48x/40x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW)
  • max DVD speeds 16x/16x/16x/4x/6x/6x/ 8x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW)
  • max DVD capacity 8.5GB
  • 2MB drive buffer
  • 130ms average DVD access time
  • 1-year warranty

SHOULD I BUY SD-5472?

Pricing wasn't available at the time of going to press, but we expect OEM versions (which means no cables or software will be provided) to be available for around £40. This is a very solid drive, but in the run-up to Christmas, you can expect to see a number of new drives that improve on the Toshiba's rather modest aspirations.