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NEC 5500A 8x DVD-ROM Review

NEC 5500A 8x DVD-ROM Review - PCSTATS
Price Check: $/£/€
Abstract: Every time someone buys a new computer he or she faces a dilemma: getting a really fast 50X (or an even faster CD-ROM) or a DVD-ROM which reads both CD-ROM and DVD-ROMs? The answer depends on every individual's needs. Most DVD-ROMs are sold for watching DVD movies and not for accessing DVD discs containing applications since very few applications are distributed in DVD format (and even these also have cd versions).
 95% Rating:   
Filed under: Optical Drives Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: NEC Mar 03 2000   P. Masrani  
Home > Reviews > Optical Drives > NEC 5500A

NEC 5500A 8x DVD-ROM Review


Every time someone buys a new computer he or she faces a dilemma: getting a really fast 50X (or an even faster CD-ROM) or a DVD-ROM which reads both CD-ROM and DVD-ROMs? The answer depends on every individual's needs. Most DVD-ROMs are sold for watching DVD movies and not for accessing DVD discs containing applications since very few applications are distributed in DVD format (and even these also have cd versions).

Of course it is obvious that within the next years DVD discs will be more widely available and when manufacturers release more affordable DVD-R writers then DVD roms will be sold in much larger quantities. Nowadays very few DVD units support reading DVD-R discs (rewritable DVD discs) since DVD-R writers cost more than $400 and are considered to be special hardware.

A well known DVD-ROM costs usually twice or even more compared to a CD-ROM, but this difference isn't a lot of cash. One can get a NEC DVD-ROM rated as 8x DVD speed and 40x CD-ROM speed for $80 or even cheaper units like a Hitachi 2500bx (6x DVD speed and 24x DVD-ROM speed) for $70.

The Nec DVD-ROM supports vertical installing, has a digital output at the back of the unit and supports DVD-R! I cannot find a DVD-R disc to verify this but I take NEC's word for it. This will be a very interesting feature which will become a ¡°must have¡± in the next few years. One small disadvantage of this model seems to be its small cache of 256kb. Most DVD-ROMs are equipped with 512kb cache, it seems that only this unit and Toshiba's 6x DVD-ROM have 256kb cache. Of course this doesn't mean much.

So is this drive RPC-1 or RPC-2? For those of you who don't know what this means I'll explain this in simple words. When a new film is distributed in DVD format over in the USA or in other regions of world it must not be released to the rest of world because this movie could still be displayed in certain cinemas around the world. So the film producers forced DVD manufacturers to use region locking (RPC-2 units) and divided the world into 6 regions. If one DVD disc is region 1 (USA) then it can be used with DVD-ROMs set to region 1, if it's region 2 then it works only with European dvd players (region 2) and so on...

There are some DVD-ROMs which are RPC-1 which means that they can display all region type DVD films and these drives are not region locked (one of them is the Hitachi 2500BX but I don't know if it is still produced unlocked since the film community is pressuring all manufacturers to produce only region locked drives from 1/1/2000).

The Nec DVD-ROM is RPC-2 which means that it can play only DVD discs which match the region setting stored in this drive. I have contacted NEC European PC support and they informed me that this DVD-ROM can work up to 5 times with DVD films of all kinds of regions, after that it gets locked to the region of the 5th DVD movie (which had different region settings compared to the previous).

In other words you can watch as many movies as you like which have the same region setting but you can use up to 5 times different region DVD's, after that you can watch DVD's which have the same region as your 5th DVD region change. So you must be careful with that 5th DVD which is from different region. Region locking refers only to DVD films not DVD data discs, these do not have region locking specifications.

Unfortunately there isn't any known way to make this DVD-ROM unlocked for ever (RPC-1). An average user will not probably be bothered by this restriction but it remains a disadvantage for this particular unit since other RPC-2 units can be unlocked permanently with certain procedures. Some sites even boycott units like the Nec 5500A.

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Contents of Article: NEC 5500A
 Pg 1.  — NEC 5500A 8x DVD-ROM Review
 Pg 2.  CDROM Benchmarks
 Pg 3.  DVD-Performance

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