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.
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.