Most current drives already go up to 18-speed in DVD-R/+R mode, but the number 20 has a nice ring to it. Lite-On has become the first DVD drive maker to break through that particular speed barrier.

Media quality is an extremely important factor in getting the most from a drive, and Lite-On understands this. The firm's new SmartWrite technology tries to plot out the best writing strategy for the disc you use, enabling you to write at a greater pace than the media technically supports. To get full 20-speed writing, you'll need media capable of being written to at 16-speed. And the Lite-On really is quick - the fastest yet, outdoing the 18-speed drives by a good 20 seconds. It's also rather more reliable than is generally the case.

The LH-20A1P is an impressive all-round drive, even though the double-layer modes are just a touch slow for comfort. The ever-friendly DVD-RAM format gets its now-obligatory 12-speed coverage and, again, the Lite-On works well in this mode.

We'd urge you to go for th retail version rather than a bare OEM (original equipment manufacturer) version, which doesn't include software and cables. You should also be able to buy this drive with LightScribe, which'll prove useful for anyone who likes assembling disc libraries.

Lite-On LH-20A1P : Specs

  • 48x/48x/32x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) 16x/20x/20x/8x/8x/6x/8x/12x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • EIDE interface
  • max DVD storage capacity 8.5GB
  • drive buffer 2MB
  • average access time 160ms
  • 1-year warranty
  • 48x/48x/32x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) 16x/20x/20x/8x/8x/6x/8x/12x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • EIDE interface
  • max DVD storage capacity 8.5GB
  • drive buffer 2MB
  • average access time 160ms
  • 1-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

Lite-On continues to put out high-quality products, and the LH-20A1P is an excellent drive. It may only be a small step forward, but it’s an advance nonetheless. And SmartWrite maintains reliability as well as boosting speed. This is slightly more expensive than an 18-speed drive, but we reckon it’s worth the extra.

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