No company has done more than LG to support the Blu-ray support as a PC storage medium. Ever since the time Blu-ray unceremoniously disposed of its main rival, HD DVD, the latest LG models have rarely been far from the top spot in our chart.
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This drive may not match the sizzle of its sister product, the LG BE12LU38, but it takes some modest specifications (along with a few that aren't so modest), and combines them within a conveniently portable and enticingly priced package. An external model, it plugs into any USB 2.0 interface. Few Blu-ray drives have yet embraced the wonders of USB 3.0. And in its silvery curved casing, it gives the lie to the suggestion that Blu-ray doesn't do beautiful.
The specifications are highly variable. Its base BD-R speed goes up to a mere 6x - the more expensive BE12LU38 offers the lure of 12x. Something of a chasm on paper, in practise the difference becomes more of a small crack. This is due to the unavailability of media that can exploit the full potential of 12x.
On the current market, the fastest media tends to be 6x (with the slower 4x still available in large numbers).
This may change in the future, clearly, but for the foreseeable future it's hard to see media coming out that exposes the true difference between 6x drives and 12x ones.
LG BP40NS20: Performance
Copying 22GB of test data took a time of 16 minutes and 47 seconds. This made it slower than, for example, the LG BE12LU38, which required 15 minutes and 48 seconds to copy one gigabyte less.
Nonetheless, it's clear that the LG BP40NS20 isn't at a significant disadvantage on the current market.
It offer support for a few standards that we weren't able to test. Most prominent of these is BD-RL TL. This Triple-Layer format offers up to 100GB of storage. Media, though, remains very difficult to obtain, and we didn't have test media to hand for this model. BD-RL TL certainly isn't designed for peace, in any case, and the LG's 4x capabilities are only equal to those of the Pioneer BDR-206MBK, where you were looking at over 100 minutes to fill a disc.
The BP40NS20 supports 3D Blu-ray, and we found the playback to be very accurate and smooth on this drive.
The LG also supports Millenniata's M-Disc technology. These discs act as a substitute for DVDs, and claim to last for much longer than standard DVDs. A nice addition for archivists, this standard is likely to remain a niche product until prices tumble and the limited 4.7GB capacity soars.
Where supplied, the LG's software bundle is standard but nice, with CyberLink's Blu-ray Suite once again doing the honours.
This pleasingly cohesive set of applications (including the Power2Go 6 burning program, the PowerProducer 5 movie creator, and the ever-reliable PowerDVD 10 playback application, amongst others) continues to find favour with drive manufacturers.