decades, Lite-On has been regarded as an industry leader in uncompromising
quality of design and consumer satisfaction in a variety of consumer
electronics markets. Most notably, many have become familiar with their
cutting-edge manufacturing processes in semiconductors, LEDs, and most notably
the optical disc drive (ODD) market.
By 1995, the ODD market was a rapidly growing field in the modern
personal computing space, and in order to establish a significant presence,
Lite-On Technology decided to establish a dedicated business unit to produce
high quality CD-ROM drives. A large manufacturing facility was established in
China to meet all demands and Lite-On soon became Taiwan's biggest CD-ROM drive
manufacturer, and number three worldwide.
Since then, the corporation has manufactured a variety of
solutions including CD-ROM drives, DVD-ROM drives, CD-RW/DVD-RW combo drives
and slimline DVD-RW drives for notebooks. Most recently, Lite-On has advanced
its focus into the area of Blu-ray ROM optical drives and is currently
experimenting with consumer demands across a broad spectrum of individually
For instance, the company began marketing into the field
of Blu-ray writing for desktop PCs with the introduction of its LH-2B1S
2X Blu-ray Disc Triple Writer
in November, 2006. Within less than six
months, it had not only introduced its first external
Blu-ray Disc Triple Writer
, but had also received the highly prestigious
Red Dot Design Award 2007 for its outstanding international product design.
Over the last three years of the decade, the company has offered multi-optical
format combo devices ranging from Blu-ray/DVD/CD reader, Blu-ray reader/DVD-RW
burner and Blu-ray/DVD-RW burner with a progressive increase in seek times,
interface speeds and buffer sizes.
Today, we intend to review the company’s latest and greatest
internal Blu-ray reader/DVD-RW burner combo drive with emphasis on its
performance advantages and its similarities with previously introduced Blu-ray
optical drives. This will effectively allow us to analyze and hopefully predict
a positive technology efficiency trend in the optical storage drive market and
should be an indicator of Lite-On’s experience in the market.
On hand is the Lite-On iHES208 8X Blu-ray Disc Reader with DVD
Writer Combo, provided to us from the company’s headquarters in Fremont,
California. In perspective, the drive is loaded with 2009’s greatest
technological advancements in the field of Blu-ray, DVD and CD optical reading
capabilities and features a compelling specs sheet to undergo our approval. The
drive is a half-height internal Blu-ray Disc/DVD/CD reader with support for
BD-ROM, BD-R, BD-R DL, BD-RE SL, BD-RE DL, BD DVD-ROM, DVD ± R, DVD ± RW, DVD ±
DL, DVD-RAM, DVD+R9, CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, CD-ROM XA, CD-PLUS, CD-I and CD-DA.
Basically, if you have a 12cm or 8cm disc, this drive will more than likely be
capable of playing it. This is not uncommon on most drives, however. What we
are more interested in are the read and write speeds of the Blu-ray and DVD
laser diodes and buffer on the drive respectively. Below is a chart containing
a specification sheet of the three drives we will be comparing.
Packaging and Unboxing:
Upon delivery, the Lite-On iHES208 8X Blu-ray Reader / DVD Writer
Combo was packaged in a blue and white box that weighed in at an average
proportion of what we would expect from an internal optical drive. The
informational contents included a 19-page user manual in three languages, a
quick installation guide, a straightforward faceplate replacement guide, and
the Lite-On Terms and Conditions warranty information note. The company was
kind enough to also package a standard red colored Foxconn SATA cable and a
CyberLink BD all-in-one software solution for burning, playing and labeling discs.
The drive itself looks like any standard 5.25-inch internal
optical drive, complete with a black faceplate featuring the brand name and
various proprietary technologies supported by the drive.
Specifications and Pricing:
It is important to keep in mind that the most crucial aspect to
any optical drive review is the price vs. performance comparison made between
various competing offers. The Lite-On iHES208 features all the quirks of a
Blu-ray reader as well as a DVD and CD Writer, and as such we were compelled to
compare it against two Blu-ray reader solutions with no DVD writing
capabilities – one from Lite-On itself and one from Sony.
“The iHES208 is a great solution for those looking for the
advanced technologies of Blu-ray in home entertainment,” said Christine Hsing,
Marketing Manager at PLDS. “The drive will not only allow them to play
high-definition content such as Blu-ray movies, it will also let them easily
share data files, presentations, home videos and other image files on DVDs or
The Lite-On iHES208 was originally priced at a $159.99 MSRP value
back at launch in April 2009. However, it is now available for a smooth $109.99
. In comparison, the company’s iHOS104 4X Blu-ray reader is currently priced
at just $59.99
creating a theoretical $50 price difference for the added DVD writing
capabilities on the former option.
At the same time, we have decided to include our Sony
BDU-X10S 2X Blu-ray reader
into the price vs. performance comparison mix.
Seeing that the drive has been out since January 2008, it should prove
interesting to compare the technological advancements of Lite-On’s 8X and 4X
drives to one of Sony’s originally noteworthy internal Blu-ray solutions. At
launch, it was priced at $199.99 and is now out of production, but currently
sells for around $79 on eBay and various etail outlets.
Despite the nature of optical SATA drives using relatively low CPU
usage and southbridge communications, we always find it necessary to list the
hardware configuration used for testing purposes.
As with most of our hardware reviews,
we usually put our tested products under ridiculously overkill and sometimes
even extremely overkill system environments where we have absolute confidence
that nothing is going to be bottlenecking performance in any possible test
scenario. With that said, our core hardware configuration consisted of
an EVGA X58 SLI Classified E759 (nForce 200) motherboard, an Intel Core i7
Extreme 965 at 3.74GHz and 1.34v, 6GB of Mushkin XP Series DDR3 1600MHz 7-8-7-20
in triple-channel mode, and two Sapphire Radeon HD 5970 graphics cards running at
stock speeds (for now).
Our peripheral hardware configuration consisted of a
Thermalright TRUE Copper with dual Noctua NF-12P fans in push-pull
configuration, two Samsung Spinpoint F1 750GB RAID Edition drives running
Windows 7 Ultimate x64 RTM, and of course the Lite-On iHES208 8X Blu-ray Reader
/ DVD Writer Combo drive.
As far as software application choice is concerned, we went
with Nero DiscSpeed 5 as our primary benchmarking solution for its compatibility
with Windows 7, its simplicity and its ease of use.
The Lite-On iHES208 test ended up resulting with an overall
43MB/s Bust Rate and 87ms access time.
The Lite-On iHOS104 test ended up resulting with an overall
34MB/s Bust Rate and 92ms access time.
The Sony BDU-X10S test ended up resulting with an overall 47MB/s
Bust Rate and 115ms access time.
While it may seem commonly understood that average read speeds and
average write speeds are the most important factor in optical drive benchmarking,
we want to point out that there is yet an even more important concern in
dealing with price vs. performance comparisons. The concern is with the start-up
and loading times of optical drives in comparison to competing technologies
such as NAND flash storage and other flash-based media solutions.
years, we have seen dramatic advancements in various forms of portable storage
including memory cards, memory sticks and USB flash drives that have only
previously been limited by their storage capacities. As we approach 2010,
however, we are beginning to see the emergence of flash-based storage with
enough capacity to match a 50GB Blu-ray Disc at reasonable pricing. While the
data transfer rates of optical storage versus flash-based storage is a
significant aspect of comparison, it is even more important to understand the
difference in the amount of time it takes to insert a Blu-ray Disc and have it
appear on screen versus the amount of time it takes a flash drive to do the
We decided to throw in a Corsair Flash Voyager 32GB and a Patriot
Xporter XT 32GB into our load-time testing run. Both drives are based on high
density MLC NAND flash and were available beginning in early 2008. It is
immediately noticeable from the benchmark results that Audio CDs and Movie DVDs
hold the quickest loading speeds over the range of these optical disc drives,
while Blu-ray movies produce the slowest loading times. Somehow, we thought
that the 450nm blue laser diode would have a speed advantage over the 650nm and
780nm red laser diodes for DVDs and CDs respectively.
However, this assumption doesn’t
seem to be the case, unless the Blu-ray loading times were hindered by the fact
that our movie was on a dual-layer 50GB disc. Nevertheless, it is clearly
evident that NAND flash takes a significant lead over the Lite-On iHES208 and
all the optical drives in our testing, possibly even a majority of drives on
the market. This is yet a small reminder to optical drive manufacturers that
start-up times play a significant role in consumer satisfaction, and that there
needs to be significant improvement in this area if optical drives are going to
continue competing with flash-based solutions in the near future.
The Lite-On iHES208 8X Blu-ray Reader and DVD Writer Combo is a very
silent and feature-packed all-in-one drive that takes a unique position in the
market for being the only optical drive you really need.
There isn’t much of a
demand for Blu-ray burning in the IT consumer space due to the fact that a
10-pack of BD-RE discs exceeds the price of buying a 64GB flash drive that also
has faster start-up and transfer speeds. Nevertheless, the introduction of
higher storage NAND flash solutions in the upcoming years will wage an
interesting competition war against optical storage and its lasting
effectiveness for holding audio, video, film and priceless sensitive data.
the meantime, Lite-On’s latest solution holds a temporary time-gap
responsibility by featuring support for the ability to read almost every
optical format on the planet at very reasonable speeds. At the same time, it
can play back Blu-ray High Definition content with incredible precision and
silence, as the drive was quieter than every fan in our system during use. In
the future, it is possible that the company will develop a 16X Blu-ray Reader
with a larger buffer and a higher Burst Rate speed, but the need for anything
more is quite unnecessary considering the future of flash-based media storage.
the reasonable price of $109.99
, the Lite-On iHES208 offers the best value on
the price to performance scale over the other drives we tested and deserves to
be noted for its achievement as an all-in-one optical drive solution for the
majority of consumer usage scenarios. In Europe you will get ripped off as usual. For about €106,-
you will get the black bulk version.