Ever since Plextor stopped manufacturing the PX-755SA DVD burner, we’ve been on the hunt for a worthy replacement. We loved the Plexy’s SATA interface, so we’re not settling for anything less going forward. (It’s just plain foolish to opt for a drive with an oversized, outdated parallel connector when SATA models are available.) Since SATA drives from Lite-On and Asus failed to win us over in the August issue, we corralled a couple new contenders, including Plextor's new PX-810SA.
Ever since Plextor stopped manufacturing the PX-755SA DVD burner, we’ve been on the hunt for a worthy replacement. We loved the Plexy’s SATA interface, so we’re not settling for anything less going forward. (It’s just plain foolish to opt for a drive with an oversized, outdated parallel connector when SATA models are available.) Since SATA drives from Lite-On and Asus failed to win us over in the August issue, we corralled a some new contenders.
Before you get too excited about LG’s combo optical drive, bear in mind that while the GGW-H10NI Super Multi Blue can read both Blu-ray and HD DVD discs, it can write to only the former format. Still, this drive offers a degree of flexibility that no other next-gen drive we’ve tested has. You won’t be shut out of watching movies from studios that have allied themselves with just one of the high-def formats. Not surprisingly, this luxury doesn’t come cheap. At $1,200, the Super Multi Blue costs more than your average Blu-ray burner—by as much as $600.
Like the Plextor PX-B900A and the IO Data BRD-UM2/U that we reviewed in December 2006, the d2 is actually a Panasonic-manufactured Blu-ray burner. The drive is encased in a LaCie-branded brushed-metal shell that offers both USB 2.0 and FireWire connectors. Roxio’s Easy Media Creator 8.2 comes bundled with the package.
As far as Blu-ray burners go, Lite-On’s Triple Writer comes across as the most forward-looking, with the simple inclusion of a serial ATA interface—a feature that’s been sorely lacking in all the other Blu-ray drives we’ve tested. Really, it should be standard issue with any so-called next-gen device, as parallel support will only get more scarce over time.
Most folks aren’t prepared to choose sides in the battle between Blu-ray and HD DVD—and who can blame ’em, given the scarcity of HD content and the exorbitant cost of drives and media. But for the gotta-have-it-now early adopters, Blu-ray remains the only next-gen disc you can burn. The HD DVD camp has yet to release a burner, while Sony’s BWU-100A marks the third Blu-ray burner we’ve reviewed in the last six months. And with each new model, we’re seeing improvements.
Combining a Blu-ray drive with a USB interface seems at first like hitching a flying saucer to a wheelbarrow. Can USB’s meager bandwidth handle such newfangled technology? Even at full-tilt, 2x Blu-ray burns hover in the 8MB/s range, which is actually slower than an 8x DVD burn. So, yes, USB 2.0 provides plenty of bandwidth.
When is a Plextor drive a Plextor drive? Certainly not when it’s a Panasonic.
To get onboard the Blu-ray train in a hurry, Plextor rebadged a Panasonic SW-5582 Blu-ray drive as its own. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Invaluable firmware updates will come from Plextor and not some Pac Rim outfit. And to be fair, the Panasonic’s far better than the first-gen Pioneer Blu-ray drive we reviewed in October, which couldn’t even read CDs.
Blu-ray has finally arrived, and like a lot of first-gen products, it’s big on price, but not so big on performance. Sure, we used it in the Dream Machine last month, and we stand by that decision. The Dream Machine is all about the bleeding-edge—it boasted a beta BIOS, a beta chipset, and a Blu-ray drive too, damn it, despite despite the fact that Blu-ray movies and blank media are incredibly scarce.