New Blu-ray writers haven't exactly been pouring off the production line of late. Even the usually prolific LG has found it difficult to get us samples of its newest BD models. However, along with the launch of the latest in Pioneer's range, the LG BH10LS30 suggests that things may finally be looking up for the rather beleaguered Blu-ray format.
After all, two-and-a-half years after finally fighting off the competition from HD DVD, Blu-ray has yet to establish itself as the de facto format of the future. And that's a shame. Even if you're not interested in using a drive such as the LG BH10LS30 to play full high-definition Blu-ray films, BD-R is on the verge of becoming a very palatable option should you be looking for a cheap way of archiving many gigabytes of data.
Previously, the fastest drives in our Blu-ray Disc drives chart were the Pioneer BDR-203BK and Sony BWU-300S, both of which offer eight-speed BD-R facilities (BD-R media can only be written to once, as opposed to the rewriteable BD-RE). The LG BH10LS30, however, rather trumps that with 10-speed.
It should be pointed out that the new Pioneer promises to be capable of 12-speed, but for now the LG BH10LS30 sets the gold standard.
Not that you can actually push the LG BH10LS30 to its highest speed. Although the speed of the media available to buy has inreased in the last six months, you're still restricted to six-speed BD-Rs. Burning rates aren't strictly limited to the speeds offered by the media, but you won't get genuine 10-speed performance unless you also have 10-speed media. Sadly, with the media continuing to lag behind the advances in drive technology, this state of affairs looks like continuing for the foreseeable future.
But even with this in mind, the LG BH10LS30 had few problems in our new Blu-ray tests. Using Verbatim media, the LG recorded 22GB of data in 11 minutes and 31 seconds, taking over a minute less than the Sony BWU-300S. As with all previous BD-R drives, the LG works with rewriteable BD-RE media at a rate of just two-speed. It copied the same 22GB to two-speed BD-RE in just under 44 minutes – a fairly standard time.
The CyberLink software suite is very nice, now rather ubiquitous, and includes the usual range of intuitive but relatively powerful titles (PowerDVD, Power2Go, MediaShow, PowerProducer 5 Cyberlink and YouCam). Blu-Ray movie playback is smooth on the LG, with the LG BH10LS30 having no problems letting through the depth of colour and detail that illuminates high-definition material.
The LG BH10LS30 is less impressive as a DVD writer, with speeds in this department some way down on the fastest dedicated models. A typical version of the latter has 24-speed DVD±R capability, for example, while the LG restricts you to 16-speed.
It's nice to see DVD-RAM as high as 12-speed, although as a DVD writer the LG BH10LS30 is no better or worse than most of today's Blu-ray writers. It does have LightScribe, which is a nice feature, and allows you to decorate dedicated media with text or images of your choice.
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