I do feel sorry for HD-DVD owners - during the early days of the format war, consumers literally had to make a 50/50 decision as to whether join the HD-DVD camp or team blue as it was unclear who was going to win - it really was down to luck up right up until the last few months of the battle. Now these users have defunct technology that nobody wants, despite being a perfectly reasonable high definition media format.
This drive could save a few blushes for HD-DVD owners, as not only can it do Blu-Ray, it supports the dead tech too. It is also offered at a cheap price, hence why I took the plunge into high definition content on my PC.
The installation of this 5.25" drive was a doddle, but note this drive doesn't use the traditional IDE interface, but it uses SATA, so make sure your motherboard can support it! Power supply support is not an issue however, as the retail box comes with a converter to the traditional molex power connector. Once I connected everything up, it was detected immediately by my motherboard in the BIOS, and when I booted into Windows Vista it detected and installed it straight away. So far so good!
The retail kit comes with Cyberlink's High Definition Media suite, which do have some nifty programs. They range from producing covers for your discs, to standard disc burning software, a tool to convert videos onto your computer into standard DVD video content that can be played on any DVD player. The drive also supports lightscribe, and I must say the quality of the etching was surprisingly good, althout it does take around 30-40 minutes to etch just the one disc. You also need a special lightscribe DVD/CD to use this rather nifty technique!
The Cyberlink burning software is relatively easy to use, but I have been brought up using Nero, and I do miss Ahead's simpler-to-use user interface. The DVD video creation tool is also not a winner - compared to other competitor products, rendering the videos are extremely slow, taking well over an hour to compile it before you even start burning it to disc.
The product also includes PowerDvD7, which is a bit of a shame considering version 8 is already out, and you need to pay for an upgrade. I found nothing wrong with PowerDvD7, but it did require a critical update to play 'The Dark Knight' - just as well I had an Internet connection!
Software can be replaced, and I would recommend it, because there are better products out there. However, the drive itself is brilliant, and that is what you have really paid for. Not only is it quiet, but it burns DVD's pretty quickly, and loads up my copy of the Dark Knight on Blu-Ray far quicker than my dedicated player for my TV. Picture quality was stunning, with no skipping or lag to be seen. DVD's played flawlessly too, but unfortunately I could not test a HD-DVD as I was fortunate enough not to get involved in the format war until it was over :-P
Overall this is a great buy. The bundled software I did not like, but the drive itself does everything I could want it to, and at an affordable price. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone. Well done LG!