Lite-On’s iHAS424 is the first 24x DVD burner we’ve tested so far, and sadly, the experience doesn’t sell us on the speed bump. Currently, DVD+R media is capped at 16x speeds, but drive makers will nevertheless tweak their hardware to exceed that limit. Often such “over-speeding” techniques are restricted to higher-quality, name-brand media to ensure reliability—in Lite-On’s case that means DVD+R discs bearing the Taiyo Yuden brand. With anything else, you’re stuck at regular-ol’ 16x.
This was the caliber of performance we experienced in our tests, since we always use Verbatim media (manufactured by Mitsubishi) to evaluate optical drives. The iHAS424 filled a single-layer DVD+R disc in 5:53 (min:sec), with an average write speed of 11.66x. That’s more than a minute slower than Samsung’s SH-S223 22x drive (4:46), which happens to be tuned for Verbatim media, but not necessarily other brands (the upshot is that speed claims above 16x only apply to specific types of media). In DVD+R reads, the Lite-On and Samsung drives were more simpatico, with times of 4:56 and 4:55, respectively.
Now that Lite-On is sharing the same drive manufacturing line as Plextor (not to mention Sony, HP, and Philips), you might wonder whether there is any difference between this 22x DVD burner and the Plextor PX-850SA 22x burner we reviewed in March. In fact, the two burners are virtually the same in terms of parts and mechanics, so differences really come down to the firmware each company uses and the tweaks and optimizations each makes to the final product.
The first thing we discovered is that Lite-On didn’t tweak this drive with an over-speed feature. So, like the Plextor PX-850SA, the burner stayed within the confines of the DVD+R media’s 16x rating, writing 4.38GB of data to a single-layer disc in 5:43 (min:sec). Samsung’s SH-S223, which can reach 20x-plus speeds when writing to 16x media, was almost a minute faster, at 4:46.
In your June 2008 issue, Frank Buttell mentioned a problem with a disappearing hard drive. I have also had that problem with Vista Ultimate, except my disappearing drive was my DVD +/- RW with LightScribe. I am dual-booting with XP Pro x64 edition and Vista Ultimate (32 bit). The drive is fine in XP, but in Vista, it will randomly disappear. A restart or sometimes a disconnect and reconnect of the SATA cable will solve the problem. So something must be up. What’s going on?