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The Drives

Watch Blu-ray And Burn DVDs: Three Low-Cost Solutions
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We received the lowest-cost 8x Blu-ray-reading combo drives from LG, Lite-On, and Plextor. Here’s a quick look at the rated performance of each model.

Blu-ray Combo Drive Basic Specifications
Read Speed (Single Layer/Dual Layer)
FormatLG UH08LS10Lite-On iHES208Plextor PX-B320SA
BD-ROM8x/8x8x/4x8x/4x
BD-R8x/8x6x/4x6x/4x
BD-RE4.8x/4.8x6x6x
DVD-ROM16x/12x16x/12x16x/12x
DVD-R16x/8x16x/12x16x/12x
DVD+R12x/8x16x/12x16x/12x
DVD±RW10x12x12x
DVD-RAM5x12x12x
CD-ROM, -R48x48x48x
CD-RW40x40x40x
Write Speed (Single Layer/Dual Layer)
 LG UH08LS10Lite-On iHES208Plextor PX-B320SA
BD-R/REN/AN/AN/A
DVD-R16x/4x16x/8x16x/8x
DVD+R16x/4x16x/8x16x/8x
DVD-RW6x6x6x
DVD+RW8x8x8x
DVD-RAM5x12x12x
CD-R28x48x48x
CD-RW24x32x32x
Common Features
 LG UH08LS10Lite-On iHES208Plextor PX-B320SA
LightScribe SupportYesYesYes
Buffer Size4MB2MB2MB
Underrun ProtectionYesYesYes
Over-burn supportNoYesYes
BitsettingYesYesYes
Mount RainierNoNoNo
Mounting Depth7.3"7.4"7.4"


Available as a bare drive for $100 or a retail box for $116, the UH08 from LG is probably the better deal since most users will require some kind of Blu-ray software to access its full capabilities. A high-gloss face plate frames the satin-finish drive tray cover.

Using a smaller 2MB buffer, Lite-On’s iHES208 is available for a lower $110 retail-boxed price. Lite-On even adds a silver faceplate to better match uncolored aluminum cases, although both faceplates use a rougher sand-cast finish.

With a Web price starting around $125, the retail-boxed Plextor PX-B320SA offers the same published specifications as Lite-On’s iHES208. Plextor uses a finer satin-finish faceplate, with a high-gloss cover on its drive tray.

All three drives include Cyberlink Blu-ray Disk Suite 6, but Plextor also includes a utilities CD. Similar utilities for Lite-On iHES208 can be downloaded.

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  • 19 Hide
    Crashman , December 2, 2009 5:45 AM
    demonhorde665why bother with a blu ray reader /dvd burner combo ??? they now have blue ray burners if i really need a dvd burner i'll jsut get a blue ray burner/reader , and a seperate dvd burner/reader


    Because you'll generally pay around twice as much to get a Blu-ray burner as you would to get a combo drive? Because you can't afford the Blu-ray blanks anyway so that spending twice as much would give you no benefits? It's right there in the article intro, really.

    If you can afford Blu-ray media and don't mind paying around twice as much for the drives, this article isn't for you. Tom's hoping for Blu-ray media prices to fall a little more before doing a Blu-ray burner article this winter.
Other Comments
  • 19 Hide
    Crashman , December 2, 2009 5:45 AM
    demonhorde665why bother with a blu ray reader /dvd burner combo ??? they now have blue ray burners if i really need a dvd burner i'll jsut get a blue ray burner/reader , and a seperate dvd burner/reader


    Because you'll generally pay around twice as much to get a Blu-ray burner as you would to get a combo drive? Because you can't afford the Blu-ray blanks anyway so that spending twice as much would give you no benefits? It's right there in the article intro, really.

    If you can afford Blu-ray media and don't mind paying around twice as much for the drives, this article isn't for you. Tom's hoping for Blu-ray media prices to fall a little more before doing a Blu-ray burner article this winter.
  • 3 Hide
    cangelini , December 2, 2009 5:50 AM
    demonhorde665why bother with a blu ray reader /dvd burner combo ??? they now have blue ray burners if i really need a dvd burner i'll jsut get a blue ray burner/reader , and a seperate dvd burner/reader


    I personally run a Blu-ray reader/DVD writer on my workstation. No need to spend the money for a Blu-ray writer when I don't plan to burn Blu-rays at $3+ bucks a disc (especially with 4TB of network storage) and don't care to spend the extra money on the drive itself.
  • 8 Hide
    TheDane , December 2, 2009 6:32 AM
    What about noise levels during playback of movies using these drives (what's the point in having the "ultimate performance" BD/DVD deviceif it is unbearable loud while watching movies)?

    Some drives are VERY noisy but others (like LG's super-multiblue BD/HD/DVD/CD combo-drive) are very quiet during playback - a MUST for HTPC setups.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , December 2, 2009 6:46 AM
    TheDaneWhat about noise levels during playback of movies using these drives (what's the point in having the "ultimate performance" BD/DVD deviceif it is unbearable loud while watching movies)?Some drives are VERY noisy but others (like LG's super-multiblue BD/HD/DVD/CD combo-drive) are very quiet during playback - a MUST for HTPC setups.


    All three are similarly quiet during playback and all similarly noisy during full-speed reads and writes.
  • -2 Hide
    dimitrik , December 2, 2009 7:06 AM
    This article seemed mildly interesting but any comparison of disk burners that only looks at speed and not quality, i.e. recording errors, is not worth the time to read, let alone write. Really guys! You're supposed to be the hardware experts and you don't know this? Burners are judged on recording quality - you need to click the little "Disk Info" tab on NeroDiskSpeed and run the advanced tests. This is just meaningless. Thanks for wasting my time.
  • 1 Hide
    wuzy , December 2, 2009 7:18 AM
    What's most amazing I found is slim BD combo drives pulled out of OEM laptops sold on fleaBay are dirt cheap (~$50) compared to a desktop 5.25" ones bought brand new. You can pick either 50pin IDE or slim SATA.
    Got a HL CA10N (slot loading) here which I use in my HTPC.
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , December 2, 2009 7:36 AM
    wuzyWhat's most amazing I found is slim BD combo drives pulled out of OEM laptops sold on fleaBay are dirt cheap (~$50) compared to a desktop 5.25" ones bought brand new. You can pick either 50pin IDE or slim SATA.Got a HL CA10N (slot loading) here which I use in my HTPC.


    Yes, you can find Notebook drives used easier than you can find Desktop drives, because notebook manufacturers were the first to adopt Blu-ray on a broad scale. On the other hand, comparing new prices makes the notebook drives, which tend to be slower and more expensive, appear a bad value.
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , December 2, 2009 10:24 AM
    CrashmanAll three are similarly quiet during playback and all similarly noisy during full-speed reads and writes.

    I would have to say the slower disc spin rate would have to make the LG quieter. I know that with most DVD drives hitting fast forward will cause the drive to spin up to a much louder speed, The LG one does not do this. They also list that the drive has a feature that makes the drive max out at different(slower) speeds depending on what is on the media. CD/DVD/BD are supposed to run slower thereby quieter. Do you have a DATA BD disc to try?
  • 1 Hide
    avatar_raq , December 2, 2009 10:30 AM
    It's a shame that the LG drive looked better on paper while it's the worst of the three in real life! Cheating the costumers, aren't we?!
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , December 2, 2009 10:38 AM
    nukemasterI would have to say the slower disc spin rate would have to make the LG quieter. I know that with most DVD drives hitting fast forward will cause the drive to spin up to a much louder speed, The LG one does not do this. They also list that the drive has a feature that makes the drive max out at different(slower) speeds depending on what is on the media. CD/DVD/BD are supposed to run slower thereby quieter. Do you have a DATA BD disc to try?


    No. I knew people would ask so I listened to the drives in play, rip, and write modes. I don't have a sound-proof room and firmly believe that giving numbers taken from a sound meter at anything other than 1 meter while in a soundproof room provides misleading results.
  • 0 Hide
    avatar_raq , December 2, 2009 11:48 AM
    CrashmanNo. I knew people would ask so I listened to the drives in play, rip, and write modes. I don't have a sound-proof room and firmly believe that giving numbers taken from a sound meter at anything other than 1 meter while in a soundproof room provides misleading results.

    I meant performance-wise!
  • 2 Hide
    kremzeek , December 2, 2009 12:04 PM
    A couple of comments...

    1. The PX-B320SA and iHES208 are based on the same drive design. I think you hinted at this but its worth mentioning that they're essentially the same drive.

    2. The jagged graphs when the UH08 is writing DVD's is not related to its buffer underrun protection. This is simply the drive's Optimum Power Calibration in action. The drive is monitoring the laser power and adjusting it to ensure the best writing quality possible.

    3. The UH08's read speeds are limited to 4x when reading AACS protected BD's. If you would have used a non-protected disc, it would have read it at 8x. You would have seen this as well if you bothered to try a BD-R disc.

    4. Where are the writing quality tests? These days this is just as important as speed.
  • 1 Hide
    San Pedro , December 2, 2009 12:07 PM
    I like my LG drive. I got it in Japan for around $160 last year. It burns BD, but the disc they gave me got bricked, and I haven't bought another one to try. What I like most about it, is that it plays HD DVD as well. I picked up Planet Earth series so cheap on the format.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , December 2, 2009 2:17 PM
    usually those cheaper drives are limited to 200x burns or so...
  • 1 Hide
    dunklegend , December 2, 2009 2:37 PM
    Even before reading the article, I would have gone for the Lite On
  • 0 Hide
    Computer_Lots , December 2, 2009 3:04 PM
    dimitrikThis article seemed mildly interesting but any comparison of disk burners that only looks at speed and not quality, i.e. recording errors, is not worth the time to read, let alone write. Really guys! You're supposed to be the hardware experts and you don't know this? Burners are judged on recording quality - you need to click the little "Disk Info" tab on NeroDiskSpeed and run the advanced tests. This is just meaningless. Thanks for wasting my time.


    Geez, calm down. It's just a DVD burner article. They're all about the same these days anyway.
  • 0 Hide
    bunz_of_steel , December 2, 2009 3:40 PM
    I think it was a good article for me. I am looking at building a HTPC and I need a good reliable DVD blu-ray player (not writer). Noise how fast it operates and cost are very important factors to consider. Write quality is of no concern right now. As dimitrik mentioned that all drives are about the same. Yes it's a generalization but it's true. I like the article - Watch Blu-ray And Burn DVDs: Three Low-Cost Solutions - makes sense to me and alota other people. Some people might have wanted a more in depth review on burning (DVD/Blu-ray) but it's premature since blu-ray burning is just cost prohibitive at this point. I just got a good review of three name brand blu-ray reader combo's for free! Not going to argue about that and I appreciate the expertise and service tomshardware.com has always provided. :)  :)  Kudos Thomas Soderstrom
  • 1 Hide
    nerrawg , December 2, 2009 4:03 PM
    demonhorde665why bother with a blu ray reader /dvd burner combo ??? they now have blue ray burners if i really need a dvd burner i'll jsut get a blue ray burner/reader , and a seperate dvd burner/reader


    ROFL - CLASSIC demonhorde quote as we have come to expect! I think he has got us all and posts these kind of comments intentionally (ones that are completely ignorant of the main point behind the article) just for the responses. I've looked back at some ol' goodies and I can't help but detect a sense of irony to them as they are quite consistent in their nature. ;) 
  • 2 Hide
    DrgnRebrn , December 2, 2009 4:09 PM
    Thanks for the great article! I feel a lot better about picking up my LiteOn iHES208 online for $70 over the Black Friday sales weekend! The article was a little late for me, as I was trying to find valid reviews to help me in my choice prior to Black Friday/Cyber Monday; however I'm happy to know I ended up making the right choice! As far as burning quality goes, I fully intend to setup network storage using my 4x 1TB WD Green HDDs & I will be converting my entire collection into digital format, along with home movies, music, pictures, etc - no need really for physical media these days, in my opinon. I've got a 32GB USB drive, a fast internet connection, and a fully networked home - who cares about if the drive will throw out a coaster every now & then when you will only burn a few times per year!
  • 1 Hide
    dhowie , December 2, 2009 4:12 PM
    this past week, newegg had a LG Blu ray burner for a low 129.99, they even bundled a a black 25gb disc with it for free :D 
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