Like its contemporaries, the Pioneer BDR-203 and Panasonic SW-5584, LG’s new BH08LS20 ($279) is a competitively featured 5.25" half-height (HH) Blu-ray recorder that writes, rewrites and reads all prerecorded (ROM), rewritable (RE/RW/RAM) and recordable (R) DVD, CD and BD disc formats. Commonalities aside, LG tries its darnedest to set its offerings apart and so incorporates LightScribe in many of its BD writers, including the BH08LS20 (a vanilla non-LightScribe BH08NS20 is available in some markets).
The BH08LS20 package I received covered all the bases with everything from mounting screws and Serial ATA (SATA) cables to a simple but ample software suite, consisting of CyberLink’s PowerDVD 7.3, Power2GO 6, LabelPrint 2, PowerProducer 5, MediaShow 4, PowerBackup 2, and BD Advisor. It offers a taste of everything from data, audio, still image, and video disc recording to labeling, backup and movie playback. For example, for those seeking to create straightforward home video titles, PowerProducer authors SD or HD material in all of the major BD (BD-R/RE AV, BD-ROM AV), DVD (-V, ±VR, AVCHD) and CD (VCD, SVCD, DivX) application formats.
To avoid any nasty surprises, newcomers should be mindful of the significant PC system requirements needed to author BD video discs and play commercial Blu-ray movies.
Looking at hard numbers, the BH08SL20 writes single-and dual-layer BD-Rs at 8x, single-layer DVD±Rs at 16x, dual-layer DVD±R DLs at 4x and CD-Rs at 48x speeds. During my evaluation, the unit turned out to be a tad speedier than its competitors for some duties but a smidgen slower for others. For example, using Nero DiscSpeed software for performance benchmarking, single layer BD-Rs wrote in an impressive 13 minutes or so, single layer BD-REs in roughly 40 minutes, DVD±R SL in six minutes and CD-Rs in three minutes (see chart, below). DVD±R DL burning, on the other hand, clocked in at a more disappointing 27 minutes and reading AACS-encrypted BD-ROM AV (HDMV/BD-J) discs maxed out at a leisurely 5x CAV speed.
The BH08LS20 also impressed me with its ability to write, at its full 8x speed, some 2x, 4x and 6x-rated BD-Rs. According to LG’s technical folks, these include many of the single-layer discs from Verbatim/MKM, MBI/Glyphics Media, TDK, Sony, Ritek/Advanced Media, Maxell, LG, Panasonic and CMC Magnetics and dual-layer discs from TDK and Panasonic (see chart, below). My assessment bore this out, as I was able to successfully burn at 8x a number of 4x-rated discs from MBI/Glyphics Media, TDK and Verbatim/MKM. And, to round things out, I had no trouble writing fifteen out of the fifteen manufacturers of 16x-rated DVD-Rs and eight out of the nine DVD+Rs.
Thanks to its LighScribe facility, the BH08LS20 can easily draw monochrome labels directly on the face of specially coated media (burn as usual, flip over the disc and put it back into the recorder, which then uses its laser to render the image). It’s worth noting that LightScribe compatible BD-Rs have yet to be introduced and, as far as I can tell, none are on the horizon.
Using the latest version of HP’s free LightScribe Template Labeler software it took the BH08LS20 roughly 30 and 24 minutes, in best and normal quality modes, to generate full face images (e.g., Film Reel) on Verbatim color-background DVD-R discs. And, as might be expected, partial surface designs (e.g., Race Day) took proportionally less time and completed in nine and seven minutes respectively.
Peppy, compatible and complete, LG’s new Super Multi Blue Rewriter BH08LS20 hits the spot. Although slower at times and priced at a premium over its competitors, the BH08LS20 remains the only high-speed solution for those seeking an all-in-one BD, DVD and CD recorder with LightScribe capability.
For more information:
LG Electronics: www.lgusa.com
Hugh Bennett (hugh_bennett at compuserve.com), an EMedialive and EventDV contributing editor, is president of Forget Me Not Information Systems (www.forgetmenot.ca), a reseller, systems integrator and industry consultant based in London, Ontario, Canada. Hugh is the author of The Authoritative Blu-ray Disc (BD) FAQ and The Authoritative HD DVD FAQ, available on EMedialive.com as well as Understanding Recordable & Rewritable DVD and Understanding CD-R & CD-RW, published by the Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA).