An eight-speed Blu-Ray Combo Drive, the Lite-On iHES208 will make a good value purchase for those who want an HD disc drive.

HD (high-definition) continues to be an expensive game for consumers. We're beginning to see some cost-effective BD-R burners (Pioneer's BDR-203BK offers 8x BD-R for ‘just' £160), but you're still being asked to pay a premium for the best drives, especially given that much of the recordable blank media is still only rated quad-speed.

But if all you need is to play Blu-Rays on your PC, go for a BD-ROM drive. And you'll still have regular DVD burning facilities. Lite-On's iHES208 makes perfect sense; the first eight-speed BD-ROM drive to hit the market.

The Lite-On iHES208 is supplied with CyberLink's Blu-ray Disc Suite. This has become the standard package for BD drives with good reason - the consistent menu design and clear facilities make it an excellent package.

Film playback is offered through PowerDVD, and the eight-speed capability makes for an incredibly smooth viewing experience, with our selection of films running beautifully. Colour was vivid and precise, and definition crisp. Some Blu-ray writers have been inconsistent when just showing BD content, but it was hard to fault the iHES208.

Its DVD facilities aren't up to the best 22- and 24-speed DVD±R-only drives, but the Lite-On iHES208's 16-speed burn rating is still solid, copying 4.2GB in under six minutes.

Double-Layer media is also fast, and the eight-speed facilities are very much on a par with those of dedicated DVD writers. We didn't have suitable DVD-RAM for testing, but the Lite-On iHES208 is rated at 12-speed, a spec as fast as any we've seen - most BD-R writers are rated only at five-speed. DVD-RAM never really caught on, but the strong support for this format will be welcome to those who relish its ease of use.

Other features to endear the Lite-On iHES208 to DVD users include LightScribe, to physically etch mono images on to the surface - handy for those who'd like an easy method to professionally label discs. There's also Super AllWrite, to make improve compatibility with a wider range of media. We certainly experienced no problems with anything we used.

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Lite-On iHES208: Specs

  • 8x/4x (BD-ROM SL/BD-ROM DL)
  • 16x/16x/8x/8x/6x/8x/16x/12x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-ROM/-RAM)
  • Max DVD storage capacity 8.5GB
  • Max CD speeds 48x/48x/32x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW)
  • Access time BD/DVD/CD 350ms/160ms/150ms
  • CyberLink Blu-Ray Disc Suite
  • 1-year warranty
  • 8x/4x (BD-ROM SL/BD-ROM DL)
  • 16x/16x/8x/8x/6x/8x/16x/12x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-ROM/-RAM)
  • Max DVD storage capacity 8.5GB
  • Max CD speeds 48x/48x/32x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW)
  • Access time BD/DVD/CD 350ms/160ms/150ms
  • CyberLink Blu-Ray Disc Suite
  • 1-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

At around £100, the Lite-On iHES208 is good value, given that quad- and six-speed BD-ROM drives still cost around £80. It’s cheaper than a BD-R drive, and will give you best combination of BD-ROM playback and DVD writing. It’s an interesting proposition for those who want to jump on board the Blu-Ray wagon.

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