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Watch Blu-ray And Burn DVDs: Three Low-Cost Solutions

Conclusion

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.

  • Crashman
    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.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    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.
    Reply
  • TheDane
    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.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    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.
    Reply
  • dimitrik
    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.
    Reply
  • wuzy
    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.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    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.
    Reply
  • nukemaster
    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?
    Reply
  • avatar_raq
    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?!
    Reply
  • Crashman
    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.
    Reply