Are Cheap DVD Burners Worth the Trouble?


LG's current DVD burner is called Super Multi GSA-H42L and it supports all DVD formats at up to 18X write speeds for DVD+R and DVD-R. It is also compatible with 6X DVD-RW and 8X DVD+RW. Double-layer discs can be written at 10X speeds. Last but not least, DVD-RAM is supported at 12X speed. CD speeds are supported at up to 48X (read and write).

According to LG's specifications, the burner's average access times are 140 ms for DVD-ROM, 175 ms for DVD-RAM and 120 ms for CD-ROM. The drive comes with 2 MB buffer, a buffer under run protection feature and it utilizes an UltraATA interface. The H42L supports LightScribe, whereas the GSA-H42N does not. We found the price difference to be small enough to justify the extra expense for the H42L with LightScribe.

The retail package comes with beige and black front panels for the drive, which allows the user to adjust its appearance to the color of the computer case. The drive is very quiet, but its DVD ripping speed was clearly too long, as Pioneer and Sony finished the same task 40% faster (11 minutes versus 27 minutes).