Are you wondering whether it’s finally time to spring for a Blu-ray burner? Lite-On’s iHBS212 might provide the best argument yet for taking the plunge. That’s certainly the case if cost is a deciding factor. At $160, the iHBS212 is the least expensive Blu-ray burner we’ve tested yet. That’s $40 less than our Best of the Best pick, Plextor’s B940SA—a savings you could put toward the purchase of Blu-ray media. And the two drives have virtually identical write-speed ratings: 12x BD-R, 16x DVD+/-R, 8x DVD+/-R DL, to name a few key specs. In fact, it’s likely the drives contain identical parts, given that Lite-On and Plextor use the same manufacturing line.
The Lite-On iHBS212 is a great second-choice drive if you don't have enough for its Plextor B940SA stepsibling.
But even drives produced on the same line can achieve differentiation by way of firmware and performance tweaks, as happens to be the case here. While Plextor’s drive is tuned to reach 12x BD-R write speeds with both Panasonic and Sony media, the Lite-On iHBS212 favors only the latter brand. When testing the iHBS212 with a Sony disc, the drive managed to write 22.5GB worth of data in 12:04 (min:sec). With a Verbatim disc, our standard for drive testing, the iHBS212 filled a single-layer BD-R in 23:12. Those numbers aren’t as impressive as Plextor’s 12x drive: 10:57 and 11:13 for Sony and Verbatim, respectively.
In standard DVD+R performance, the two drives show less divergence. Both are rated at 16x, with no preference given to any specific media. The Lite-On iHBS212 filled a single-layer disc in 5:36 compared to the Plextor’s time of 6:01. Our double-layer write test saw the Lite-On drive hit a time of 19:19 compared to the Plextor’s 15:29. Both drives made strong showings in DVD ripping, taking just over 10 minutes to copy the contents of a double-layer movie disc.
As is par for the course, the Lite-On iHBS212 comes with a complement of CyberLink BD software for movie playback (including Blu-ray 3D), disc burning, and data backup. It also supports LightScribe disc-labeling. While we appreciate the cost savings you get with the iHBS212, we’re still inclined to choose the Plextor B940SA for its superior BD write performance.
Inexpensive 12x BD writes; strong DVD performance.
Inferior to Plextor B940SA in BD-R speed
DVD Write Speed Average
DVD Read Speed Average
Access Time (Random/Full)
Time to burn 22.5GB to BD-R (min:sec)
Time to burn 22.5GB to BD-RE (min:sec)
Best scores are bolded. All tests were conducted using Nero DiscSpeed and Verbatim media. Our test bed is a Windows XP SP3 machine using a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700, 2GB of Corsair DDR2/800 RAM on an EVGA 680 SLI motherboard, an EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS card, a Western Digital 500GB Caviar hard drive, and a PC Power and Cooling Turbo Cool PSU.