We’ve been recommending Plextor’s B940SA 12x drive on our Best of the Best list for more than a year now, so we were delighted to receive a challenger that could shake things up—even if it was another Plextor drive. Hey, why not build on that good track record?
Our excitement waned, however, when the drive we received—Plextor’s PX-LB950SA—bore the exact same specs as its predecessor.
Plextor shared all the right connections with its sleek and sexy PX-LB950UE Blu-ray burner to be a player in the optical game. This external BD writer boasts 12x recording (BD-R), a low vibration system to prevent screwing up pricey BD media, an 8MB buffer, LightScribe support, and both SuperSpeed USB 3.0 and eSATA hookups.
Blu-ray has faced down some pretty significant criticisms in its rise to dominance over the past few years, but complaints about its storage capacity was never one of them. Never the less a research partnership between Panasonic and Sony has yielded a new technique which will increase disk capacities from 25GB per layer to 33GB. Normally a small jump like this would have us rolling our eyes when it comes to the prospect of replacing all our hardware, but interestingly enough, it appears as though the jump in capacity can be achieved using the optics in our current players.
The new standard is called i-MLSE which stands for Maximum Likelihood Sequence Estimation, this is a method of estimating the read error rate of disks on the fly. If all goes as planned the only action users will need to take to read the disks would be a firmware update on existing players. There is no timeline for the rollout yet, but Sony is set to propose the adoption of i-MLSE to the Blu-ray Disk Association in the coming months, which as you might imagine, they have a fair bit of sway over.
OWC has introduced a quad-interface Blu-ray burner that uses a Pioneer BDR-205. You will never be short of options with the Mercury Pro 12x Blu-ray burner as it supports four different interfaces: FireWire 800, FireWire 400, USB 2.0 and eSATA. It ships with a cable each four all the interfaces that it supports. It is capable of writing to BD-R media ( single or double layer) at 12x speed, BD-RE media at 2x speed, DVD±R at 16X, DVD±R DL at 8X, and CD-R at 40X. The Mercury Pro 12x Blu-ray burner can be yours for $350. The burner is also available along with Roxio's Toast 10 Titanium Pro for $450, though the bundle is only meant for Mac users.
Recordable Blu-ray media has been expensive, and slow to catch on, but would a bump to 100GB capacities change your mind? New developments made by Sharp could do just that by introducing a blue-violet laser which is able to read triple-layer or even quad-layer Blu-ray disks. Current BD-R single layer disks hold a mere 25GB.
The light put out by the beam is much stronger than traditional readers at 500mW, and it is made possible thanks to an aluminum oxynitride layer that is located squarely between the laser’s crystal and dielectric film which is meant to protect the laser.
In addition to capacity increases, this could also allow for writing speeds of up to 8x across all four layers, making it a much more interesting archiving option for digital packrats. Prices and availability still haven’t been announced yet, but the company describes the technology as “production ready”. At the very least it would be nice to see a new affordable disk option come along to replace those aging 4.7GB DVD’s, which frankly, just don’t cut it size wise anymore.
Are you itching for new recordable disks, or is flash the future of the sneaker net?
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.
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.