We’ll admit we’ve been perfectly content with Samsung’s SH-S203 DVD burner for more than a year. Once we were writing 4.38GB of data to a disc in five minutes flat, we were feeling pretty satisfied with the state of DVD technology. Nevertheless, we’re not about to turn our nose up at a performance increase. And that’s what Samsung’s latest DVD burner, the SH-S223, offers.
As you might have guessed from the name, the SH-S223 represents a jump from 20x to 22x DVD+/-R burn speeds. In our tests, this effectively shaved 12 seconds off the time it took to fill a single-layer DVD+R disc. The SH-S223 took 4:46 (min:sec) compared with the SH-S203’s flat 5:00. In both cases, we used 16x media, the fastest-rated media that’s readily available. And in both cases, the drives’ “over-speed” feature enabled them to burn data at higher than rated speeds. In the course of its write, the SH-S223 steadily climbed from a starting speed of 8.38x to 20.7x.
For more than a year, LG has been sitting pretty with the only 6x Blu-ray burner available for retail, but now that Sony’s BWU 300S offers 8x BD-R write speeds, LG’s supremacy has come to an end. Sort of.
The 300S is uncommonly fast—given the right circumstances. The drive managed to fill a 25GB BD-R disc with data in a blistering 13:56 (min:sec), compared with the LG GBW-H20L’s time of 22:16, but only when the drive was fed manufacturer-recommended Panasonic 6x media. And good luck finding that—our online search for the media was fruitless. When using more common 4x media, the 300S stuck closely to that speed rating, taking 22:56 to complete the same task.
We expected LG’s new 6x external Blu-ray burner to perform similarly to the company’s GBW-H20L, what with the two having identical read/write speed ratings, but we were wrong. The external drive is a bigger, more expensive letdown.
Hit the jump for the reason we're crying into our corn flakes.
When we reviewed LG’s GGW-H20L Blu-ray burner in December 2007 we applauded its superior BD-R write speeds and ability to also read HD DVD media. Now that the latter feature is irrelevant, we welcome LG’s new GBW-H20L. It boasts all the same DVD and BD read and write specs as its predecessor, sans the HD DVD reader—and comes with a healthy price cut.
It doesn’t matter a lick to us that Blu-ray has prevailed in the high-def format war if the hardware remains expensive and uninspiring. We have to admit, we thought the tide was turning when we reviewed LG’s GGW-H20L Blu-ray burner back in December. That drive represented a dramatic price drop (falling to $500 from its predecessor’s $1,200 price tag in a matter of months—and now settled at $400 MSRP), and its 6x rating for BD-R media resulted in burn times we could actually live with (22.5GB in a little over 20 minutes).
Sadly, Lite On has not followed LG’s lead. Instead, they've released a drive that's made zero strides since its aged predecessor.
One of the most obvious differences between an external optical drive and its internal brethren is in appearance. A device that’s going to sit out in the open for anyone to see, after all, has to look the part. Lite-On’s latest EZ-Dub optical drive accomplishes this with a fashionable white and black aesthetic that would surely do Apple proud. It’s an update from the more staid look of the previous EZ-Dub model, which was also nearly two inches longer and a half-inch taller. As with the older model, this EZ-Dub comes with a stand, so you can set the drive on its side to save desktop space.
It’s no surprise that high-def optical drives are getting less expensive while their specs improve—that’s the trajectory of all emergent technologies—but we are still taken aback by the dramatic strides LG’s GGW-H20LI represents. Just a few months ago, in our September issue, we reviewed this drive’s predecessor, the GGW-H10NI, and not only is its follow-up better in every respect, it’s half the price!
As far as we’re concerned, the Blu-ray burner to beat these days is LG’s GGW-H20L1 (reviewed December 2007). Unfortunately for Sony, its BWU-200S isn’t the drive to do it. We pretty much knew this before we even began testing the drive—after all, the BWU-200S is rated for 4x Blu-ray write speeds compared to the LG’s 6x speed rating.
So your DVD burner is getting a little long in the tooth and you’re ready for an upgrade, but you’re not all that keen on adopting next-gen tech. And who can blame you? Even the falling price of hardware doesn’t make up for the relatively slow burn times, costly media, and compatibility issues that plague Blu-ray burners (and the same would be true of HD DVD burners if you could even find them!). Trouble is, you’ve got a brand-new 27-inch LCD that’s just begging to display high-def movies. What’s a consumer to do? Well, you could buy a combo drive—one that lets you read next-gen discs and write data to fast, friendly CD and DVD, like the two models we review this month.
So your DVD burner is getting a little long in the tooth and you’re
ready for an upgrade, but you’re not all that keen on adopting next-gen
tech. And who can blame you? Even the falling price of hardware doesn’t
make up for the relatively slow burn times, costly media, and
compatibility issues that plague Blu-ray burners (and the same would be
true of HD DVD burners if you could even find them!). Trouble is,
you’ve got a brand-new 27-inch LCD that’s just begging to display
high-def movies. What’s a consumer to do? Well, you could buy a combo
drive—one that lets you read next-gen discs and write data to fast,
friendly CD and DVD, like the two models we review this month.