Lite-On's LH-2B1S joins the select-but-growing band of Blu-ray drives – a cohort that includes the Pioneer BDR-101A and Plextor PX-B900A. As each drive hits the market, specifications go up and prices drop. A £514 price tag might still be intimidating, but it's a step in the right direction.
HD (high-definition) video – which packs in an awful lot of extra data – is becoming more commonplace, creating a need for discs that can hold far more than the 8.5GB offered by standard DL (double-layer) DVD writers. Blu-ray could be an ideal solution: the LH-2B1S's single-layer Blu-ray facilities enable it to store up to 25GB on a single disc. In the future it should be possible to use this drive for DL media, pushing a disc's capacity up to 50GB.
Blu-ray speeds are still quite slow, unfortunately. The Lite-On can access all Blu-ray formats at double-speed. A future firmware upgrade could see some of these doubled but, in the meantime, the Lite-On is roughly the same speed as its rivals, taking 44 minutes and 27 seconds to master 22GB of data to the BD-R format.
The Lite-On comes with a copy of CyberLink BD, which gives you plenty of options for creating discs. Check you're buying the retail (rather than OEM, or original equipment manufacturer) pack, though, or you may find yourself without software or cables. The Lite-On is a versatile machine, offering better DVD speeds than we've seen in other Blu-ray drives. And of course, for £20 you could also get a dedicated DVD writer that easily surpasses the Lite-on's specifications.