Physically installing this internal drive is a snap, thanks to the illustrated setup guide and the annotations on the drive itself. Set a jumper on the back, slide the drive into an open bay, attach it to a free EIDE connector, and turn on your PC; Windows XP instantly recognizes the DRU120A. Installing the software is a different matter. The installer doesn't remove conflicting packet-writing software on your system; in fact, it doesn't even flag it. Another oddity: The installer indicates that the disc-burning, packet-writing, and backup software are for CD-RW drives; DVD is never mentioned.
The software problems get worse, unfortunately. When you install B's Recorder Gold disc-burning program, you're asked if there's a Ricoh CD-RW drive in the system. If you're not paying attention and say yes, an extra DLL is installed. Unfortunately, if you later right-click the DVD drive's icon in Windows Explorer, the DLL crashes Explorer. The solution: uninstall Recorder Gold and run Windows' Registry Editor. In /HKEY_Local_Machine/ Software, remove the BHA folder and restart your PC. Reinstall Recorder Gold and ignore the question about the Ricoh drive. Sony says it will remove this prompt in a future version of the software.
The rest of the DRU120A's software is uninspiring and/or buggy. NeoDVD lets you turn video files or footage into DVDs, but it won't open QuickTime MOV files--even though it says it will (NeoDVD accepts only streaming QuickTime data). The software can read MPEG files, but the thumbnails that the program displays are often wrong, or they're duplicates of the same file. The Retrospect Express backup program has many good features, but the process of choosing folders and files to back up is convoluted, and it's hard to tell if you've selected the right target and destination drives.
It's too bad about the software, because the drive's performance beats the bytes off other DVD units'--at least when it comes to rewritable DVD+RW media. In CNET Labs' tests, the DRU120A blew by DVD-RW drives from Pioneer and CenDyne, writing to disc two to five times faster. The DRU120A also skipped past the competing Hewlett-Packard DVD-Writer DVD200i. With write-once media, the Sony drive placed second, burning a movie to DVD+R at 2.34MB per second compared to the HP's 2.96MB per second.