The Lite-On iHOS104 is an internal, budget-priced, SATA BD-ROM drive.

It's fair to say that Blu-ray hasn't exactly grabbed the market by the neck as its licensors expected it to two years ago - albeit that it's beginning to get some traction. Much of the reason for the slow-burning growth is cost.

With many a Blu-ray burner costing in excess of £100, it's simply too expensive to add a BD-R drive for storage purposes - not least when any modern DVD drive can copy up to 8GB at a fraction of the cost. Meanwhile USB storage, especially hard drive-based, provides huge amounts of space with an ease of use that optical drives can't get close to.

So what do you do if all you want is to watch Blu-ray films on your PC? Well, you could do a lot worse than slipping in the Lite-On iHOS104 budget-priced BD-ROM drive.

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The key to the Lite-On iHOS104's low price is its read-only credentials - in every department. Whereas more expensive BD-ROM drives roll in the ability to write to DVD and CD blank media, Lite-On have reasoned that you don't want to pay extra for duplicating facilities; you'll almost certainly already have a good DVD writer to run alongside the Lite-On. And even cheap dedicated DVD writers tend to have vastly superior write speeds to those offered by BD-capable drives.

So, the Lite-On iHOS104 can still play DVDs. But you're unlikely to be buying it for those reasons. Instead, you'll be wanting it for its strong quad-speed Blu-ray playback. The drive slots easily into the case, and its polished bezel gives it a distinctive look. Install the bundled CyberLink PowerDVD 8.0 BD software, and you're ready to start watching films in high-definition.

There's little sign of the Lite-On iHOS104's low price tag in the quality of the playback. Our test movies ran smoothly and with no glitches, with video always looking vivid but realistic.

CyberLink seems to be the choice of the majority of Blu-ray manufacturers, and it's quite understandable given the slick and logical interface. Its TrueTheater technology even makes a stab at upscaling standard-definition DVD video to high-definition quality.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Lite-On iHOS104: Specs

  • Internal SATA optical drive
  • read speeds: 4x BD-ROM/BD-RE/BD-R DL
  • 8x DVD-R DL
  • 8x DVD+R/+R DL
  • 32x CD-ROM
  • 160ms access time
  • 2MB buffer
  • CyberLink PowerDVD 8 BD
  • Internal SATA optical drive
  • read speeds: 4x BD-ROM/BD-RE/BD-R DL
  • 8x DVD-R DL
  • 8x DVD+R/+R DL
  • 32x CD-ROM
  • 160ms access time
  • 2MB buffer
  • CyberLink PowerDVD 8 BD

OUR VERDICT

If you want to add strong Blu-ray – and high-quality DVD – playback to your system, but don’t want to pay a three-figure sum, the Lite-On iHOS104 should prove £50 very well spent.

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