DELL dvd drive problem - read failures

12 Feb 2009
Posted by Laptop Junction

From start the DELL C3284 DVD+RW Drive failed to burn DVD's of lasting quality. In several cases the burned DVD's ended up read failures in other drives, as well as the DELL C3283 DVD+RW drive itself.

Although DVD's are shaky backup material, for non-critical use it's a cheap way to copy software, pictures, music and sorts. In time the frequency of DVD disc failure increased. Enough to investigate this issue a bit deeper.

The DELL C3284 DVD+RW drive is in fact a TSST TS-L532B. The manufacturer is known as the Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology Corporation, an international joint venture company of Toshiba Corporation and Samsung.

TSST DVD+-RW TS-L523B with Nero InfoToolChecking the firmware with NERO's InfoTool reported version DE03, dated 28 august 2005. The DELL support site lists version DE04, dated 11 may 2006, however tagged as an optional firmware update. (not critical). So let's give that one a go anyway.

The update - with SFDNWIN - went pretty smooth followed by an obligatory XP reboot. During XP startup the TS-L532B was discovered as new hardware. Next was a test burn session with a sample image of 4.3 Gb, which previously failed.

Nero Burning ROM wrote the 4.3 Gb image to a DVD-R disc (4.7 Gb - 120 min - 16x/1x) with UDF file structure within 5 minutes - and - verification failed again. So far no results from the firmware upgrade.

Taking a look at the 2 DVD-R disc's reveals a faint circular pattern.
Strangely the faint patterns are different for both DVD-R disc's, while the source image is the same.

SFDN Win Firmware update for TSST DVD driveIn both cases disc verification failed straight after burning the DVD-R disc's - it seems the drive empty, as if no disc is inserted. Reading the DVD-R disc's with a Panasonic Matshita DVD-R/RW/RAM  SW-9581 drive results in the same behavior. As if there's no DVD disc inside the DVD drive.

Checking the TSST TS-L532B with different (pre-written) DVD discs shows it's working OK. The Panasonic Matshita SW-9581 DVD drive can produce a working UDF formated DVD-R disc with the same Sony DVD-R (4.7 Gb - 120 min - 16x/1x) disc using the same 4.3 Gb image.

Running the standard DELL Diagnostic tests from the bootable DELL CD available at the dell website, didn't show any mallfuntions. (The  CD was created with the TSST drive using the ISO image!) The tests include confidence and quick check, read test, seek test and Built in self test, however no write testing. Read more below.

First conclusion is, there's something wrong with the mechanics of the DVD burn function for high density media because of degrading performance over time and the different burn pattern on 2 identical DVD disc's.

Secondly the Sony DVD-R disc's might be just out of specification for this DVD drive. Also, DVD-R is more susceptible to interference than the newer DVD+R format, which uses improved techniques for error correction.

Nero Speed DVD burn test for TSST TS-L523B with DE04 firmwareA burn test with Nero CD-DVD Speed results in the following graph for the TSST TS-L532B. The resulting DVD-R disc was unreadable after the test with the similar uneven pattern as noticed earlier.

Strange is the drop in write speed in the beginning - the drive went quiet after which it picked up speed again.

Trying to read all DVD-R discs written with the TSST TS-L532B with the following other DELL DVD drive models fails:

- HLDS-GCC4244 CD-RW/DVD-ROM
- TSST TS-L462D CD-RW/DVD-ROM

Both were also upgraded to the latest firmware version available at the DELL support website.