At A Glance
Fastest BD-R writes, respectable DVD+R writes, stylish bezel.
Requires obscure media for fastest BD times; expensive.
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.
This is an interesting point of comparison since LG’s drive is tuned to overburn 4x BD-R media at 6x speeds, which seems like a really nifty feat, until you see that its overall average speed remains 4x. More impressive is the fact that the LG drive can perform the exact same trick with 2x BD-R media. But we digress.
Like the rest of the competition, the 300S is rated at 2x for rewriteable BD media, which resulted in a 45:20 time to fill a 25GB BD-RE disc, almost six minutes slower than LG’s drive.
In our DVD+R burn tests, the two drives, which both feature 16x write ratings, ran neck and neck. The 300S took 5:49 to write 4.38GB of data to a single-layer disc, while the GBW-H20L took 5:43.
We’ll give Sony props for making BD-R writes truly speedy, but our enthusiasm is tempered by the unavailability of the Panasonic 6x media that makes those speeds possible. What’s more, even when using an equally rare 6x TDK disc, Sony’s drive wouldn’t overburn to its maximum 8x ability. It’s that particular. So in real-world terms we’re really looking at a drive that performs about the same, or marginally worse, than LG’s GBW-H20L, yet costs $100 more.
Even the bundled Men in Black BD disc doesn’t justify that premium. Heck, we’re not convinced that Blu-ray is worth even the lower price.