With a 67% performance advantage (6x versus 3.6x) in Blu-ray reads over LG’s UH08, Lite-On’s iHES208 and Plextor’s PX-B320SA are probably the best products for systems for high-definition movies. Of course, we all need to write data on occasion too, although most of us won’t pay the steep price that blank Blu-ray discs still command. That is why we compared Blu-ray and DVD combo drives.
The UH08 had slightly higher maximum and minimum DVD-R write speeds compared to the other two drives, but its lower average writes in this format, along with a peculiar transfer diagram, appear to indicate an underlying performance problem that makes it too reliant on buffer under-run-prevention technology. With half the buffer size, both the iHES208 and PX-B320SA still managed to produce a higher average burn speed.
Things got even worse for LG in the dual-layer media test, with DVD+R writes staying at 4x throughout the disc’s entirety. The two competing products produced average writes of 6.86x by stepping the speed up to 8x at around half of each disc’s capacity.
From a performance standpoint, we really have two winners and it has become very apparent that the Plextor PX-B320SA is a Lite-On iHES208 with a custom faceplate. We already knew that Lite-On and Plextor shared the same manufacturing line, but it seems peculiar that when Plextor America's Web site crashed during the writing of this article, us.liteonit.com also went down.
Plextor’s faceplate might be worth a few dollars more for builders who desire aesthetic improvement, but Lite-On offers a second faceplate in silver to match uncolored aluminum cases. And while Plextor does include a drive-utilities disc, Lite-On offers similar utilities for download. Thus, while we still like Plextor as a company known for its quality optical drives, we find it hard to justify a price difference of more than $5 for what appears to be the prettier twin of Lite-On’s iHES208.