Introduction

You may think that CD-ROM technology is reaching the end of its day, but you are only partially correct. While drives have reached the limit of 52x, the physical limit that CDs can spin at without exploding into millions of shards inside your drive, there is still head room for drives to improve. With prices continuing to drop and added features like DVD compatibility, Mt. Rainier, over burning, increased rewriteable speeds and external slim form factor drives, the market is far from stagnant.

Here today we have two new offerings from Lite-On. First up, an exclusive preview of their brand new LTR-52327S 52x32x52 CD-RW. Following that, a look at their jack of all trades LTC-48161H 48x24x48x16 Combo CD-RW/DVD drive.

 

The LTR-52327S

The LTR-52327S: Lite-On's internal 52x32x52 CD-RW Drive

Features:

Drive Information
-----------------
Drive                        LITE-ON  LTR-52327S      
Type                         CD-RW Recorder
Firmware Version             QV3H
Buffer Size                  2 MB
Date                         ?
Serial Number                ?
Mechanism                    Tray
Read Speed                   52, 48, 40, 32, 24, 16, 12, 8, 4 X
Write Speed                  52, 48, 40, 32, 24, 16, 12, 8, 4 X
Read CD Text                 Yes
Return C2 Pointers           Yes
Read CD-R                    Yes
Read CD-RW                   Yes
Read DVD-ROM                 No
Read DVD-RAM                 No
Read DVD-R                   No
Read DVD-RW                  No
Read DVD+R                   No
Read DVD+RW                  No
Read Digital Audio           Yes
Read CD+G                    Yes
Read VideoCD                 Yes
Write CD-R                   Yes
Write CD-RW                  Yes
Write DVD-R                  No
Write DVD-RW                 No
Write DVD+R                  No
Write DVD+RW                 No
Write DVD-RAM                No
Buffer Underrun Protection   No
Mount Rainier                Yes
Modes                        Packet, TAO, DAO, SAO, RAW SAO, RAW SAO 16, RAW SAO 96, RAW DAO 16, RAW DAO 96

 

The LTC-48161H

 

The LTC-48161H: Lite-On's internal 48x24x48x16 CD-RW/DVD Combo Drive

Features:

 

Drive Information
-----------------
Drive                        LITE-ON  COMBO LTC-48161H
Type                         Combo Drive
Firmware Version             KH0D
Buffer Size                  2 MB
Date                         ?
Serial Number                ?
Mechanism                    Tray
Read Speed                   48, 40, 32, 24, 12, 8 X
Write Speed                  48, 40, 32, 24, 16, 12, 8, 4 X
Read CD Text                 Yes
Return C2 Pointers           Yes
Read CD-R                    Yes
Read CD-RW                   Yes
Read DVD-ROM                 Yes
Read DVD-RAM                 No
Read DVD-R                   Yes
Read DVD-RW                  Yes
Read DVD+R                   Yes
Read DVD+RW                  Yes
Read Digital Audio           Yes
Read CD+G                    Yes
Read VideoCD                 Yes
Write CD-R                   Yes
Write CD-RW                  Yes
Write DVD-R                  No
Write DVD-RW                 No
Write DVD+R                  No
Write DVD+RW                 No
Write DVD-RAM                No
Buffer Underrun Protection   No
Mount Rainier                Yes
Modes                        Packet, TAO, DAO, SAO, RAW SAO, RAW SAO 16, RAW SAO 96, RAW DAO 16, RAW DAO 96
Region Protection Control    RPC II
Region                      1
Changes User                4
Changes Vendor              4

 

Packaging/Appearance/Installation/Documentation

 

Package:

The LTR-52327S packing is fairly simple, as you might expect. The box contains the drive, mounting screws, audio out cable, installation instructions, troubleshooting manual, 700MB 80 minute 52x CD-R disk, 650MB 74 minute 32x CD-RW disk, Nero Express, and finally some Lite-On customer feedback cards.

The packing is nearly the same for the LTC-48161H. The box contains the drive, mounting screws, audio out cable, installation instructions, troubleshooting manual, 700MB 80 minute 52x CD-R disk, 650MB 74 minute 24x CD-RW disk, Nero Express, Lite-On customer feedback cards, and also PowerDVD XP.


Appearance:

The drives are typical looking. Present on the front is a mini-jack audio out port, a volume dial, dual colored read/write LED, Lite-On logo stickers and either a 52x32x52x insignia or the DVD logo.

One thing interesting that you will notice immediately after taking the drives out of the box and comparing them to other drives is that they are about 25 millimeters shorter than a typical drive.

While other drives are all about 195 mm, the Lite-On drives are only 170 mm. This could be rather nice in small form factor cases where an extra inch of space behind the drive can open up room for airflow or other devices. Even in my full tower case the extra inch that the drives aren't sticking out is nice because it clears away clutter from in front of the motherboard.


Installation

The screws provided were welcome because drive manufacturers are often very inconsistent with their screw sizing and it can be difficult to find screws that won't strip your drive's holes.

The drives installed cleanly, my motherboard detected the hardware vender string in the drives and displayed the models correctly during boot up. Windows XP correctly identified the drives and installed the appropriate drivers without a hitch.

Nero Express went in cleanly, only after removing a previous version of Nero I had already installed. One note to mention here is that I had a TDK burner before and my TDK version of Nero definitely did not like the Lite-On drives. It was no problem to remove the old hardware and software and cleanly install the new drives and Nero though. I did not have to install separate versions of Nero Express for each drive, despite the warnings on the CD that Nero would only work with the drive it came bundled with. Nero appears to be compatible with any of the Lite-On drives.


Documentation

The manual is rather comical, it is simply a collection of safety, installation, use and troubleshooting documentation. It is actually pretty comprehensive though, a nice addition since previous Lite-On drives only came with a one sheet manual. It is good to see that Lite-On learned from our previous gripes about bad documentation.

Additional documentation comes in the form of a straight forward "Quick Installation Guide" poster.

There is no paper documentation for Nero Express, but it is VERY easy to use, as is the case with PowerDVD too.

 

Performance

The following is the Nero CD Speed tests of both drives. For these benchmarks a test data disk was burned in Nero CD Speed and the same disk was used in both drives. By maintaining a constant angular velocity as the disk spins, Nero measures the linear velocity at each minute mark on the CD moving outwards from the center. The yellow line is the constant angular velocity (CAV), and the green line is the linear velocity (LV).

The starting LV speed, the average LV speed and the final LV speed are indications of how fast the drive is during read and write usage. Seek times are an average of how long it takes the drive to find data in the specified locations. CPU usage is an indication of the load the drive puts on the CPU during the various speeds. Interface Burst Rate I suppose is an indication of how fast spurts of data can be under ideal situations.

Both drives support a relatively new CD-RW burning format called Mt. Rainier. Mt. Rainier enables the user to "drag and drop" files directly onto a CD-RW and burn them right away. Older drag and drop formats required special software to be installed in addition to 20 minute format times of the disk before burning could even take place. Mt. Rainier has what is called "background formatting" which formats the disk on the fly so removes the need for pre-formatting. Also there is no need to erase Mt. Rainier disks before rewriting, they can simply be written over. Windows XP and ME both have built in Mt. Rainier support, and after testing a Mt. Rainier burned disk on several old drives I was impressed by how well the whole system worked. To find more about Mt. Rainier click here.

For test burn times I used a 681MB Divx file that took up 77:26.11 minutes of real estate on Memorex 52x 700MB 80 minute CD-Rs. The LTR-52327S burned the disk in 2:28 minutes, the LTC-48161H burned the disk in 2:55. The Yamaha CRW-F1 44x24x44 took 3:12. The Lite-On LTR-48125S 48x12x48 CD-RW took 2:33.

LTR-52327S Results:

LTC-48161H Results:

LTR-48125S Results:

Yamaha CRW-F1 Results

Toshiba SD-M1402 DVD-ROM Results:

 

Conclusions

Both drives performed very solidly, during my tests I produced no "coasters" and had no troubles getting both drives installed and recognized by Windows. The only complaint I have about the drives is that they are quite noisy when spun up at high speeds. Despite the noise though, they are very smooth with little to no vibrations. I could barely feel my case moving when either was spun up to its maximum speed. I have had drives in the past that would shake so violently that I could feel them through the floor and hear them in the next room. These Lite-On drives are miles ahead of that. Another possible gripe is that the drives only have a 2MB buffer, to this I say it is unlikely that you will notice any difference in the quality of the burns between these drives and a drive with a 16MB buffer. With today's buffer under run protection and Smart Burn, which simply turns off the laser when there is no data to write, it should be pretty hard to come across bad burns. These drives are both rather affordable considering Lite-On is a top name company in the optical storage industry. Lite-On claims that they are one of the top 3 drive manufacturers worldwide, and the number 1 manufacturer in Taiwan. The LTR-52327S will sell for around $50 US online, and the LTC-48161H can be found for around $65 US online. I give the LTR-52327S an 8/10 for excellent performance, and the LTC-48161H a 9/10 for great performance with the added benefit of DVD functionality.


Pros:


Cons:

 

LTR-52327S 52x32x52 CD-RW - SLRating: 8/10

LTC-48161H 48x24x48x16 Combo CD-RW/DVD - SLRating: 9/10

 



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