The GGC-H20L LG sent us was an early production sample. While the drive came in a retail box with the bundled software burned onto a CD-R disc, it did not include a printed manual or any cables.
The drive LG sent us for this review was manufactured in July of 2007 and had firmware version 1.00. For this review we used firmware versions 1.00 and 1.02.
From the front, the GGC-H20L looks a lot like LG's original Super Multi Blue drive, the GGC-H10N. While there are a few cosmetic differences, like the placement of the LED and emergency hole, it shares the same basic design and has many of the same logos. Along with the large "Super Multi Blue" and "LG" logos, you can see a few showing support for Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD as well as HP's LightScribe technology.
Below the tray you can see the GGC-H20L's single LED. Off by default, this LED lights up a bright blue whenever the drive is reading or writing.
The rear of the GGC-H20L is pretty straightforward. By looking at the picture above you can see the drive's SATA interface and power connector.
The specs below have been taken from LG's website and the manual that came with the drive.
|LG GGC-H20L Super Multi Blue
Blu-ray Disc & HD DVD-ROM
|DVD+R Write Speeds||16x, 12x, 8x (P-CAV)
4x, 2.4x (CLV)
|DVD+RW Write Speeds||8x (Z-CLV)
6x, 4x, 2.4x (CLV)
|DVD-R Write Speeds||16x, 12x, 8x (P-CAV)
4x, 2x (CLV)
|DVD-RW Write Speeds||6x, 4x, 2x, 1x (CLV)|
|DVD+R DL Write Speeds||4x, 2.4x (CLV)|
|DVD-R DL Write Speeds||4x, 2x (CLV)|
|DVD-RAM Write Speeds||5x (P-CAV)
3x, 2x (Z-CLV)
|CD Write Speeds||40x, 32x, 24x (P-CAV)
16x, 8x, 4x (CLV)
|CD Rewrite Speeds||24x (Z-CLV)
16x, 10x, 4x (CLV)
|BD Read Speeds||6x Max (BD-ROM Single Layer)
4.8x Max (BD-ROM Dual Layer)
6x Max (BD-R)
4.8x Max (BD-R DL)
2x Max (BD-RE)
|HD DVD Read Speeds||3x Max (HD DVD-ROM Single Layer)
3x Max (HD DVD-ROM Dual Layer)
|DVD Read Speeds||16x Max (DVD-ROM Single Layer)
8x Max (DVD-ROM Dual Layer)
12x Max (DVD±R)
10x Max (DVD±RW)
8x Max (DVD±R DL)
8x Max (DVD-Video)
5x, 3x, 2x (DVD-RAM)
|CD Read Speeds||40x Max|
|DAE Speeds||40x Max|
|Buffer Size||4 MB (BD and HD DVD)
2 MB (CD and DVD)
||180 ms (BD-ROM)
210 ms (HD DVD-ROM)
160 ms (DVD-ROM)
180 ms (DVD-RAM)
150 ms (CD)
|HD DVD Formats||HD DVD-ROM|
|DVD+R Recording Modes||Sequential Recording|
|DVD+RW Recording Modes||Random Write|
|DVD+R DL Recording Modes||Sequential Recording|
|DVD-R Recording Modes||Disc At Once
|DVD-RW Recording Modes||Disc At Once
|DVD-R DL Recording Modes||Disc At Once
Layer Jump Recording
|CD Recording Modes||Disc At Once
Session At Once
Track At Once
Note: We took a much closer look at LightScribe technology in our review of the BenQ DW1625. In this review we'll just go over some of the basics and see how the GGC-H20L performs with the bundled software.
The GGC-H20L is one of the first Blu-ray Disc writers to feature LightScribe technology. Developed by HP, LightScribe lets you burn durable, silk screen quality labels directly onto your CD's and DVD's using the same drive that burned the data. According to HP, it's as simple as burning the data, flipping the disc, and then burning the label.
Of course you can't do this with just any drive, media or software. While LightScribe capable drives use the same laser when burning both the data and label, they have to be able to accurately control the laser's focus and position as well as the spindle speed. They also must be able to recognize LightScribe media. These special discs have a thin dye coating on the label side that absorbs laser light. This triggers a chemical reaction that produces a color change, allowing the user to print text, artwork or graphics.
Even if you have a LightScribe capable drive and media, you will need software that supports it. Most major software companies have pledged support for the technology. However, at the time of this review, the list of compatible software is still relatively short. For the GGC-H20L, LG turned to CyberLink. Using the bundled LabelPrint software you can create and burn LightScribe disc labels.
Once you've created your LightScribe label, you're ready to print it. Before you can do this though, you will need to choose the contrast. Keep in mind this option not only changes the level of detail, it also affects the amount of time it takes to print the label. The higher the quality, the longer the process will take.
How long does it take to print a label? For testing purposes, we printed a disc using Verbatim's LightScribe v1.2 color CD-R media. For testing purposes, the quality has been set to "best". The results are shown below.
|Verbatim CD-R v1.2 - 24 minutes|
By looking at the picture below, you can see that LG's new Super Multi Blue drive is identified as an "HL-DT-ST BDDVDRW GGC-H20L."
The Nero screenshot also shows that the GGC-H20L has a maximum CD writing speed of 40x and a 2048KB buffer. This buffer is also backed up by some form of buffer underrun protection. According to Nero, the GGC-H20L can write CD-Text and overburn. When testing the drive's capacity I found that the drive was able to overburn up to 95:10with CompUSA's 99 minute CD-R media.
Using Alex Noe's Weak Sector Utility we were able to determine that the GGC-H20L is a "two sheep" burner. This means that LG's new drive is capable of backing up titles protected by SafeDisc 2, including version 2.51.
Here is a screen shot from Nero's InfoTool. This program queries the drive to see what its reading and writing capabilities are. InfoTool had no problems detecting the GGC-H20L's maximum reading and writing speeds, recording modes, buffer underrun protection and 2MB buffer.
InfoTool also shows that the GGC-H20L is an RPC-2 DVD drive. This means that the drive's region is stored in the firmware. The drive's region can be changed five times and after that it cannot be changed anymore. Unfortunately, a patched RPC-1 firmware is not yet available for this drive.
While InfoTool gives us a quick glance at the GGC-H20L's features, DVDINFOpro provides a little more information on some of the drive's reading and writing capabilities. By looking at the screenshot above you can see that LG's new drive can write to most DVD formats and has the ability to read both Blu-ray and HD DVD-ROM discs.
LG's new drive also supports a feature called "bitsetting." Using programs like Nero or CD Speed, you can set the book type of both DVD+R and DVD+R DL media to "DVD-ROM". For whatever reason though, the drive does not let you set the book type of DVD+RW discs.