Pioneer DVR 109 vs. DVR A09XLB

wiseguy27

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Apr 30, 2005
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I hope this is the right forum for this thread. :)

I've been looking at the Pioneer DVR 109 (OEM/bulk) dual layer "superdrive" as an upgrade to my existing combo drive on my Power Mac G5 (runs Mac OS X Tiger). Just today, I saw the Pioneer DVR-A09XLB for around the same price on www.buy.com (after rebates and discounts).

I remember reading that these models are identical and that the DVR109 is an OEM/bulk model whereas the A09XLB is the retail model. I also checked some sites and it looks like the retail model, apart from the bundled Windows software, also has some kind of dust filter and is supposedly quieter.

Since I've followed the price of DVR109 for some time and have been reading about it in various sites (including http://www.xlr8yourmac.com), I feel more comfortable with it. But what I'm more concerned is about the firmware and how well it would perform on the Power Mac with Tiger (at the highest read and burn speeds). Does anyone have any experiences/thought/suggestions to share about which one might be a better choice and easier to install and get working on a Power Mac G5 running Tiger? :) I'd also like to know if I've missed out anything in my research.
 

wiseguy27

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Apr 30, 2005
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CanadaRAM said:
Be careful of the differences in the front bezel. The retail ones have a different design (large, full width) that may not fit through the opening in a Mac. The alternative is to remove the drive's tray door entirely.
Oh, that could probably be a problem. Maybe I should just stick to the OEM/bulk model since it seems to have firmware updates readily available from sites like www.xlr8yourmac.com. For Mac users, does the retail model offer any advantage at all over the OEM/bulk model? From what I've read, it seems like the answer is "no".
 

outcast311

macrumors newbie
Jun 22, 2005
6
0
The 109 may not be for you.

If you want to have a region-free drive, then the 109 ISN'T for you. It can't be made region-free, I bought it thinking the firmware would be out soon, and still there's been nothing. If you want to rip DVD movies to your hard drive, do not buy the bulk 109, it has a setting that limits the ripping speed, it's a pain. Not all DVD ripping is breaking the law, you still have rights.
You can make a bulk 109 take retail firmware thus making it rip at fast speeds, but you need a windows PC to do that. I've done it plenty of times, it's easy.
The ripping limitation is only on DVD movies. I think you should go for a DVR-108 (which also has the rip speed limiter, but can be easily removed with a windows pc, plus it can easily be made region-free).
Pioneer aren't the only ones to make good DVD drives, the Plextor 716a I have is awesome, the best I've used. The LG multi-drive is also a great choice, it has DVD-RAM support which isn't something you can get with Pioneer. I can't remember the exact name, I lent it to a friend. :) I've found it to cost less than/same as a bulk 109, except this drive is better. The NEC 3540a is a good one as well, these drives will work in a Mac, you just need the Patchburn patch to allow them to be used like a normal Apple Superdrive, it's available on macsales.com
So how much were you guys looking at paying for a 109? I'm sure I can find you a better deal on a better drive.
Hope I helped!
 

wiseguy27

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Apr 30, 2005
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outcast311 said:
If you want to have a region-free drive, then the 109 ISN'T for you. It can't be made region-free, I bought it thinking the firmware would be out soon, and still there's been nothing. If you want to rip DVD movies to your hard drive, do not buy the bulk 109, it has a setting that limits the ripping speed, it's a pain. Not all DVD ripping is breaking the law, you still have rights.
The drive being region free was not a priority for me, but now that you mention it, it does sound good.

outcast311 said:
You can make a bulk 109 take retail firmware thus making it rip at fast speeds, but you need a windows PC to do that. I've done it plenty of times, it's easy.
The ripping limitation is only on DVD movies. I think you should go for a DVR-108 (which also has the rip speed limiter, but can be easily removed with a windows pc, plus it can easily be made region-free).
The Windows PC part could be a minor problem (I have access to a Windows laptop, which wouldn't help in this case). I'm hoping I should be able to borrow an adequate Windows machine for a short time.

outcast311 said:
Pioneer aren't the only ones to make good DVD drives, the Plextor 716a I have is awesome, the best I've used. The LG multi-drive is also a great choice, it has DVD-RAM support which isn't something you can get with Pioneer. I can't remember the exact name, I lent it to a friend. :) I've found it to cost less than/same as a bulk 109, except this drive is better. The NEC 3540a is a good one as well, these drives will work in a Mac, you just need the Patchburn patch to allow them to be used like a normal Apple Superdrive, it's available on macsales.com
Do these drives also support DL burning (I haven't checked their specs yet)? As I said, my main concern is to be able to get them work properly (at the highest speeds possible) on a Power Mac G5 with Tiger. The reason I was looking at the Pioneer model was because it seemed to be the most popular brand for optical drives on the Mac (from whatever sites I had read).

outcast311 said:
So how much were you guys looking at paying for a 109? I'm sure I can find you a better deal on a better drive.
Hope I helped!
The Pioneer DVR 109 sells for around $49 (it could become cheaper next week for the July 4th sale) whereas the retail model A09XLB sells for around $90 (which in the buy.com deal I mentioned comes to around $55 after rebates and discounts).
 

icarusflies

macrumors member
Jun 15, 2005
82
0
My superdrive gave up in my G51.8dp tower - just out of guarantee.

I fitted the Pioneer 109b and its absolutely fine.

The only issues to consider are OSX doesnt recognise the drive for burning.
Apples way of charging you £250 for a new drive as opposed to the £45 oem drive.
Use http://www.patchburn.de to fix that!

The front of the tray will need to be removed, but this simply clicks off

The other issue is that the mounting screws for the drive are not the same as for the sony superdrive I had in. A quick trip to the local hardware store, a little filing and it works a treat! :)
 

Tusk

macrumors member
Aug 2, 2004
47
12
Arkansas
The 109 is recognized in Tiger without applying Patchburn. Works great. I cross-flashed mine on a PC to A09 so that I could unlock the rip speeds using Pioneer quietdrive. DVDs rip in about 10 minutes and I can burn a full 4.7 gb disc at 8x in 6 minutes. Just got some 16x discs but haven't tried them yet. Verbatim media works great with this drive.
 

outcast311

macrumors newbie
Jun 22, 2005
6
0
I've been thinking about it, and the 109 may suit you. You should be able to flash it to a retail drive with the Mac flasher, but I'm not positive as this is only newly released. I know this can be done on a PC. That's a pretty good drive for that price, especially when flashed to retail firmware, I got mine back when it was $120. I expect the region-free firmware to be out in a few months. Unless you're watching a lot of different region DVDs, you don't need a region-free drive right now, you can rip the DVDs onto the HD using Mac The Ripper removing the region, then playing the VIDEO_TS in DVD player under the Mac OS X. It takes about twenty minutes to rip a DVD under retail firmware.
8x Taiyo Yuden DVD-Rs burn at 12x in the 109 (and 16x in my Plextor) I suggest you buy them from rima.com as they are many fakes floating around.
I suppose in a Mac-only environment, Pioneer may be the way to go, but for all-around awesomeness at a low price, I like the LG multi-burner, however it may not be easy to flash on a Mac.
But if you are not ripping DVDs semi-regularily, I suppose the 109 would be good for you, it just wasn't the best choice for my eMac :) Now I have two DVD drives for it, one region one, one region two.
If you have no problem with fiddling around with rebates and you don't have an external drive enclosure or easy access to windows box, then try for the A09 (retail, whatever you want to call it) but if you don't, or can use a windows machine for five minutes, then save the money and go for the OEM/Bulk one. But that's only if the DVD ripping is appealing, if not, you won't be able to tell the difference.
 

kant

macrumors 6502
Jul 22, 2004
337
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outcast311 said:
The LG multi-drive is also a great choice, it has DVD-RAM support which isn't something you can get with Pioneer. I can't remember the exact name, I lent it to a friend. :)
I'll second that recommendation. I am very satisfied with the LG GSA-4160B burner in my PC. It's the second LG I've had - I gave the first to my nephew for his desktop because I wanted a dual-layer (silly me, I thought dual-layer media costs would go down rapidly). That single-layer burner is still going strong after a guestimated 400+ DVDs. My dual-layer has over 200 on it. I was burning copies of my DVDs to send to my nephew while he was in Iraq and will do so again when he goes to Afghanistan - optical discs (and players - he went through 3 of those in 9 months) have a shortened life-span in a desert field environment. And, yeah, I dare the MPAA to sue me over that.
 

wiseguy27

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Original poster
Apr 30, 2005
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Tusk said:
The 109 is recognized in Tiger without applying Patchburn. Works great. I cross-flashed mine on a PC to A09 so that I could unlock the rip speeds using Pioneer quietdrive.
Thanks for your suggestion - I do remember reading about Tiger not requiring Patchburn for the 109. I know I can search for this (from the Apple discussions forum, xlr8yourmac etc.), but it would help me if you could post a link to where you got the A09 firmware from (and the installation procedure, people's experiences etc.). Thanks! :)
 

RJP31484

macrumors regular
Apr 19, 2005
184
0
Philadelphia, PA
Tusk said:
The 109 is recognized in Tiger without applying Patchburn. Works great. I cross-flashed mine on a PC to A09 so that I could unlock the rip speeds using Pioneer quietdrive. DVDs rip in about 10 minutes and I can burn a full 4.7 gb disc at 8x in 6 minutes. Just got some 16x discs but haven't tried them yet. Verbatim media works great with this drive.
These times kind of blow me away! what am I doing wrong??? granted, I am using an imac G5 2.0ghz, with an 8X DL superdrive, not the same drive as you, but ripping a full DVD using Mac the Ripper takes about 45 mins- one hour, and using popcorn to burn a disc from the video_TS folder takes about an hour and a half!. for a total of about 2 to 2 and a hlaf hours!!! not this 16 minutes you are talking about. Is it the drive I have? is it the programs Im using? are these typical times?
 

wiseguy27

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Original poster
Apr 30, 2005
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outcast311 said:
I've been thinking about it, and the 109 may suit you. You should be able to flash it to a retail drive with the Mac flasher, but I'm not positive as this is only newly released. I know this can be done on a PC. That's a pretty good drive for that price, especially when flashed to retail firmware, I got mine back when it was $120. I expect the region-free firmware to be out in a few months. Unless you're watching a lot of different region DVDs, you don't need a region-free drive right now, you can rip the DVDs onto the HD using Mac The Ripper removing the region, then playing the VIDEO_TS in DVD player under the Mac OS X. It takes about twenty minutes to rip a DVD under retail firmware.
Actually, I do use MacTheRipper to make a DVD region free for playback from the computer. But making the drive region free would be a little more convenient because I may be moving across countries. Not that using MacTheRipper and spending about 20 minutes or so is a big deal.

outcast311 said:
8x Taiyo Yuden DVD-Rs burn at 12x in the 109 (and 16x in my Plextor) I suggest you buy them from rima.com as they are many fakes floating around.
Is the plextor 716a a lot better than the DVR 109? I've just started searching for comparisons and am looking at some articles on MacWorld.com. Would you know of any other better sources for comparison? I also plan to look at xlr8yourmac and the Apple discussion forums again.

outcast311 said:
I suppose in a Mac-only environment, Pioneer may be the way to go, but for all-around awesomeness at a low price, I like the LG multi-burner, however it may not be easy to flash on a Mac.
But if you are not ripping DVDs semi-regularily, I suppose the 109 would be good for you
I do rip DVDs somewhat regularly (to make backups).

outcast311 said:
If you have no problem with fiddling around with rebates and you don't have an external drive enclosure or easy access to windows box, then try for the A09 (retail, whatever you want to call it) but if you don't, or can use a windows machine for five minutes, then save the money and go for the OEM/Bulk one. But that's only if the DVD ripping is appealing, if not, you won't be able to tell the difference.
I am planning to get an external FireWire enclosure for my current combo drive that I'm going to replace with the new one - so could I put the new one in the enclosure and flash it? I wasn't sure about flashing through an enclosure. If that's possible, then I can as well do the flashing with a Windows laptop I have access to.

Thanks for all your inputs and suggestions. :)
 

outcast311

macrumors newbie
Jun 22, 2005
6
0
RJP,
On my 800Mhz eMac, 256 RAM, using the Pioneer A04, 45 minutes was typical ripping time, one hour was normal compressing time, and one hour was burning time (only burned at 1x with 4x media) while I havn't used Popcorn, I used a DVD2OneX + Toast combo.
Tusk left out the compressing time, but his times sound realistic from the 109, but no matter how fast of a drive you have, compressing the DVD will take some time if your processor isn't up to scratch. It sounds like your times are longer than they should be with your good computer, try DVD2OneX and toast, in addition to Mac The Ripper as you're rivaling my old computer, when your computer is MUCH better than mine was. What speed of media are you using?
Wiseguy,
In my opinion, the Plextor 716a beats the 109 hands down, it's a much better drive, larger cache (8MB instead of 2MB), it burns TY 8x DVDs at 16x, no riplock, can be easily flashed to be region free (on windows). The only downside is that the retail version costs $120, and that it doesn't handle DVD-RAM media (hence the LG drive) I've found an OEM version of the Plextor drive for $99. The OEM drive should be the same, just not in a fancy box. The drive comes with both beige and black bezels included.
I can't see any trouble with flashing through a firewire enclosure, I remember that that was an option before, if you didn't want to jam your drive into the PC. Look at RPC1.org for plenty of information. Cdfreaks.com also have plenty of help. It's worth noting that any DVD burner that works in Windows, will also work in OS X, so you don't need to limit yourself to Mac sites for your reviews. I bought my plextor at xpcgear.com I also bought my other drives there, I have no trouble with advising you to order from there if you choose. I've also had good shopping history with zipzoomfly.com
Something else worth mentioning is that the Plextor burns DL (both + and - versions) at 6x Don't worry about Plextools not supporting OS X, it's not that great, I don't use it :) I would have gotten the Plextor if I had known about it before I got the 109. If you can justify spending twice the price of a 109, go for it, if not, the 109 should still be a good choice. If the eMac wasn't such a pain to take apart, I would put the Plextor in there.
 

apple_g5

macrumors member
Apr 9, 2005
42
0
Innsbruck, Austria
I've put the DVR-109 into my G5 (rev a) - first thing was i couldn't get the tray to open... it was stuck -> so i had to cut off front parts of the tray in order to get it out without problems... 109 is a wonderful thing... extremely fast + reliable!
 

RJP31484

macrumors regular
Apr 19, 2005
184
0
Philadelphia, PA
outcast, I am using 8X media on an 8X drive. yes, my times seem on par with yours from your 800 mhz, except my processor is more than 2X that speed! can either dvd2onex or toast burn from video_TS folders? also, are these both burning programs? will I still need to use mactheripper? my actual burning+verification time in popcorn is about 45 mins, with an additional 45 mins for compression. Is verification a necessary step? I havnt made a coaster yet on at least 15 burns. can I choose not to do this to save time?
 

outcast311

macrumors newbie
Jun 22, 2005
6
0
RJP, my winning combo is:
Ripping in Mac The Ripper
then compressing the VIDEO_TS file in DVD2oneX
Then I take the file and burn it using toast as a DVD/UDF name in all caps and no spaces LIKE_THIS also, I add an empty AUDIO_TS folder, it's just a folder with that name, you make it yourself. Remember to create a new disc first, then drag the TS folders onto Toast, the folders must be on the root directory.
I would skip the verify part. I have had no trouble without any additional safety measures with my discs. I haven't used Popcorn before, I'll have to give it a shot, the eMac is at my parents house, and I only get down there once a month.
Xenious,
Get the retail drive, or flash the oem drive to retail, that is what's in the PM. For some reason, I thought they were still using the 108 in the PM, but the last round of updates didn't excite me as much as I was expecting, so I didn't pursue it very far. But whether it's the 109 or the 108, it's the retail version, meaning you unless you feel like some low-level hacking on a windows machine (unless a way to do the OEM/Retail conversion can now be done on a Mac, if it can be done, it's very new) you should stick to the retail. I've heard that there are Sony drives in the PM as well, I don't know who makes Sony drives, BenQ or someone I think... many different companies. Anyone care to guess?
 

krimson

macrumors 65816
apple_g5 said:
I've put the DVR-109 into my G5 (rev a) - first thing was i couldn't get the tray to open... it was stuck -> so i had to cut off front parts of the tray in order to get it out without problems... 109 is a wonderful thing... extremely fast + reliable!

did you take the tray bezel off the drive, because there was no cutting involved putting a new drive in my friends g5.

edit: Oh, BTW, FYI, Pioneer released firmware v1.55 for the 109 drive (you'll need a PC to flash)
Firmware update to version 1.55 (WIN) adds support for Multiborder recording on DVD-R DL Media, up to 12x writing on 16X DVD-R from Optodisc, up to 8x writing on 8X DVD-R from DST / Infomedia / Interaxia / RITEK / UmeDisc / Vanguard, up to 12x writing on 16X +R from Infomedia / Prodisc / RITEK, up to 8x writing on 8X +R from MPO / NANYA, and improved writability/readability on DVD-R/RW an +R/+RW media.