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Optical Drive: LG BH10LS30 Blu-ray Burner

Tom's Hardware's 2010 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders
By

us.lge.com
$139
By: William Van Winkle

With the war against HD-DVD now a distant memory, you’d think that Blu-ray on PCs would have become, well, the next DVD. But the 25/50 GB disc technology has faced challenges not encountered by its 4.7/8.5 GB predecessor. After the format war armistice, we had a tiny little global recession accompanied by the rise of cloud-based storage. At the same time, services like Netflix and Hulu have left millions of would-be buyers wondering why they still need to sink big bucks on movies and TV series burned to physical media.

On the other hand, we’ve seen the (latest) rise of 3D entertainment, with this holiday season being the first to showcase a broad selection of Blu-ray 3D options. Ironically, the movie that really kicked off the 3D craze, Avatar, remains unavailable in 3D version on Blu-ray (unless you count the several-hundred-dollar outliers on Ebay). James Cameron must have studied at the George Lucas School of Perpetual Movie Re-Releasing. Instead, we have Resident Evil: Afterlife and the redone Clash of the Titans, renowned as being one of the worst post-production 3D conversions to date. So far, the animated 3D movies have delivered more consistent quality.

Anyway. There are two kinds of people who will want this LG drive: One, those who want 3D Blu-ray and two, those who want local archiving. As for the former camp, if you love home theater PCs, then this is where you want to live. You need Blu-ray, and you need a drive with the modern specs (2x or greater) able to support 3D.

For the storage folks, there’s a compelling argument here. We won’t take you down another digression into backup and archiving strategies. You already know why you should be storing your critical data in a safe, off-site location. Cloud services are an option, but they’re incredibly slow on the upload side—so slow that businesses often just FedEx USB hard drives containing their data backups to the service provider. If disaster hits and you need to perform a restore, downloading your files can take days. With this LG 10x burner, you can fill a 25 GB BD-R disc in about twelve minutes.

This requires a note about media. The good news is that you can now buy a spindle of 4x BD-R media for just over $1 per disc, a huge drop from when BD burners first appeared two to three years ago. A 6x spindle, however, will run just under $4 per disc, and 6x is the fastest media on today’s market. Step into 50 GB (DL) 6x and we’re up to about $10 per disc. The fastest you’re going to see in today’s re-recordable Blu-ray (BD-RE) is 2x, and a single 50 GB platter will run $35.

So we’re not gushing with love for LG’s move to 10x because you couldn’t even record at 8x today if your favorite gift guide model’s life depended on it. Maybe next year. And you might find 10x media by the time you’re ready for a new system. No, we’re praising LG’s drive because it’s a great mix of feature support, forward-looking compatibility, and affordability. Get the drive, stuff some blank media in your stocking, and enjoy a safe, backed-up holiday.

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