The DVD burner; hot stuff, it is. Ever becoming more of a compulsory part of your new laptop or PC, these are continuously advancing in speed and efficiency, as well as of course in size and style. If you're looking for something that ticks all of those boxes (pretty much...) then look no further. It's LG; it's super; it's the LG External Super Multi (pause for breath) DVD Rewriter! Yes, there were fifteen syllables in that title.
Built in with Securdisc technology for added security, LightScribe disc labelling as well supporting all current standard disc formats and covering multiple operating systems, it certainly lives up to its 'Super' title. I'll be delving into each of these features later, but for now it's important to consider suitability.
Now, if you're building a computer and looking for an internal DVD burner to implement then this won't be suitable. That's because it's external, and you'll have a tough job trying to slot one of these chunky boxes in a PC tower. Why go for external? For me, it was the fact that my first PC build didn't go to the script, and the two internal DVD drives I tried to install failed miserably. So, being that 'impossible is nothing' man that I am, with that committed 'never-say-never' attitude - I gave up and bought this instead. It's also useful to use with netbooks - quite a few of these baby laptops lack a DVD drive, so if you're looking for a suitable solution then you may wish to consider this. You may not want to on the other hand; reason being, the size of the thing.
One and half kilograms! I have considered buying another one so that I could take the pair down to the gym and lift them instead. Unsurprisingly it's not small either, at 160 x 50 x 230mm - I don't want to make another joke here, but on a serious note, if you are going to take it on the bus then you'll need to buy a separate ticket. So on this front it's fair to say this should be used more as a desktop burner than a portable one. You should also note that this needs to be AC powered, and can't be run solely by USB. Even if you are a regular gym-goer and have the muscles to handle it (and a spare socket to power it), the size of the burner means that you'll have to buy a whole other laptop case just to carry it around. Is it worth the effort? Not particularly; I'd go elsewhere if that's what you're looking for. Desktop though - it's all good!
If it's going to be big then it better look good - and it does. As with the rest of my PC hardware it needed to be black and basically quite sexy all round. It's finished extremely well with a smoothed-off outline and silver ridges around the front-view edges. Corners are difficult to find due to the curve-corner nature of the drive, and the product logos are by no means intrusive, being far more translucent, as it were.
Designed specifically for XP, it also supports the predecessor, 2000, and the next in line, Vista. Whilst it does not support Windows 7, it is Mac compatible - very much a plus-point to the product as a whole. The box states that you will require 20GB of available space; I was sure this was a mistake at first. However, looking in the manual I've discovered the statistic once again (suggesting it wasn't a typo), though with further detail; 'The free space needed for the writing depends on the quantity of data'. So I think this must be where the files associated with the writing of your DVDs and CDs go - albeit temporary, but necessary.
As I purchased this burner well over a year ago I shall be reinstalling it - but on a little Netbook instead. In terms of packaging, it's all fairly standard, and needn't be talked about endlessly. Everything is packaged securely as expected, and you have a DVD which comes with the various pieces of software for you to use in alliance with your new burner. I should also mention the little surprise I received within my package - a DVD exclusive of 'Burn Notice', season one, episode one. I've never watched it, so don't worry, I won't be reviewing it within this review. Looking at the cover I'd be more likely to just burn it. I'm not suggesting I judge a book by its cover or anything though. Maybe I will watch it...
Distraction over, it's time to install your new little beast. If you're one to read instructions then you'll find two perfectly reasonable, though not ever so colourful (due to them being black and white...), quick start guides; one for the drive installation, another for the software set-up. Whilst there's not too much to say in either of these, though there could perhaps be a few more diagrams with annotation. Possibly I'm being a little unfair; indeed, I do act under the pretence that pictures make any read much better...
It's an incredibly simple process, with Windows (or Mac) doing the majority of the work for you. Just plug everything in in the correct order (as explained in the guide), and it's then just a case of waiting for the hardware to be installed. You'll be watching or burning your DVDs within seconds. Well, hopefully they weren't that bad.
The speeds speak for themselves. I won't run through each and every one otherwise this would end up very much not being a review; however, with a DVD-R write speed of 20x and CD-R write speed of 48x, you'll be dishing those discs out quicker than the baker down the road can shell out their fairy cakes. It was remarkable when I first used it when importing a CD into iTunes - I minimised it and before I knew it, the little 'ping' alerted me to it being complete! It was truly sensational. However, it's not just the superior write speeds that make this product what is. The package has a lot more to offer.
On the disc you have six other elements that you can install. These come in three groups, though unfortunately cannot all be installed in one go. However, the process is very simple and is well explained along the way. Firstly you should note that one of these is 'USB Booster', and is required to achieve those DVD-R 20x write speeds. As well as this, you have 'Power DVD', 'the most popular DVD player for you computer', so it states. It is quality though, featuring a vast array of features allowing you to optimise your viewing just to your liking. Alongside this you've got 'PowerProducer' (lots of powerful stuff here), which is your one-stop piece of software for ripping DVDs. It comes with a bundle of useful features for capturing, importing and editing content, providing various means of ripping your video to DVD.
At this point I must state something important. I left this review last night, to continue with today - in that time unfortunately, I've broken my burner. Firstly, I think it's harsh to be thinking the thoughts that you're obviously thinking; "Not so super any more, is it?". Secondly, don't leave this burner on the arm of an armchair, as if it falls off, it breaks. It's currently not being detected by my computer, although the mechanism itself is working. Frustrating indeed. A lesson well learnt; though I'd have preferred to have learnt it from somebody else.
Anyway, there are two features that can't go unmentioned before I burn out this review. First up; SecurDisc. What is it? Well, according to the company: 'SecurDisc is an innovative hardware and software based technology that provides robust and highly secure data protection and content access control for information recorded on regular CD and DVD media'. Basically - it's all about securing personal and private data. Now I never had a need for this, since I'm such a sharing and open person... However, from looking through the software and having a read of the quick start guide provided, I must say that it's all explained very well indeed. Whilst I wouldn't have run through it all with you anyway, it would have been utterly pointless due to the process being described so well. There are a range of measures you can take to protect your data, from password protection, to digital signature, as well as even including the ability to implement copy protection on PDF files. There's some amazing potential there, and I was very impressed indeed! One down side is the way in which you have to access the files; a normal drive does not support the SecurDisc features, and thus, users with standard drives will have to download software online, which is, admittedly, a bit of a hassle. Saying that, if you need security on your disc content, then SecurDisc isn't half bad.
The second feature which must get a mention is LightScribe. This is absolutely superb. At first I just thought it had a special embedding technique in the burning that meant tracks were labelled properly on discs as opposed being called 'Track 1', 'Track 2' etc. I made a series of CDs for our family holiday last year, and seeing the titles on the CD player in the car just amazed me. I'm easily amazed. But no, LightScribe does something incredible. The artwork you see on the physical disc; yep, that. 'LightScribe is a disc-labeling technology that lets you laser-etch a label directly on your disc'. Once again, I've not had a need for this, yet my in-depth online research brings good results. The final product looks fantastic, albeit you are limited in terms of colour; though by no means is it a difficult process. All the software needed comes on the DVD included in the package, and it's just a case of forming your template. When you're ready, you burn the disc as you would any other, then, upon completion, turn it over and put it back in! Bit like making a pancake, really. You do have to use specifically designed discs, though these are by no means any more expensive than standard ones. It's not a professional production, but it's certainly one that will add a sense of professionalism to any CD you make. That is, regardless of the terrible music you may have put on it.
Overall, I think it's a good showing from LG here. I bought this for £50 from Maplin, though I'd advise shopping online if you can; I was desperate and couldn't wait (so I went, and then bought it...). Of course, prices will vary enormously, so do shop around. Saying that, for what you're getting, I think £50 is perfectly reasonable. With a slick design, relentless speeds, some powerful DVD viewers and burn programmes, well considered security potential, and some quality disc labelling thrown in too, it's not a bad deal really. Just remember though; don't, whatever you do, leave it sitting precariously on the arm of an armchair. Sigh.
Oh, there's a package for me. 'Burn Notice', the complete season one. Um...