First Look: LG Drive Offers Up Blu-ray and HD DVD

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At a Glance
  • LG GGW-H10NI

Artwork: Chip Taylor
LG breaks down the barrier between the competing high-definition optical formats with its GGW-H10NI Super Multi Blue Blu-ray DVD drive, the first drive for PCs that can both write to Blu-ray Disc media and read HD DVD discs. However, you'll pay a steep price for gaining the peace of mind of having a drive that handles both formats: The GGW-H10NI's list price is a whopping $1199--just $100 less than LG's BH-100 combo-format player for living rooms.

The GGW-H10NI can write to 25GB single-layer and 50GB double-layer Blu-ray Disc media (both write-once and rewritable discs). The drive boasts some impressive spec ratings: 4X for BD-R single-layer write speed; 2X for BD-R double-layer, as well as for BD-RE (rewritable) single- and double-layer; 8X for DVD-R/+R; 4X for DVD-R/+R double-layer; and 16X for CD-R/RW. And, of course, it can play all of the Hollywood HD DVD movies now shipping, in addition to Blu-ray movies (assuming you have an HDCP-certified system with beefy specs and an HDCP monitor).

The drive is the first to support 4X BD-R writing, and the boost from 2X--the norm on competing Blu-ray drives--to 4X makes a tremendous difference in performance. Achieving improved real-world results will be tricky for a while, though, as the only media available today is rated at 2X, and media manufacturers say we won't see 4X BD-R media until mid-to-late third quarter. As we saw with DVD, we learned that you can achieve faster Blu-ray write speeds on slower media--but such performance tends to be brand specific.

For example, we could not achieve 4X write speeds using 2X TDK BD-R single-layer media. Our first tests confirmed that this drive performs as we've come to expect of a 2X Blu-ray Disc writer: It required 44 minutes, 14 seconds to write 22GB of files and folders to BD-R using CyberLink's Power2Go (included with the drive). That result is in line with what we've seen from other internal Blu-ray burners we've evaluated on the same test bed using the same data set: Plextor's PX-B900A required 44 minutes, 35 seconds; Sony's BWU-100A took 44 minutes, 38 seconds; and Pioneer's BDR-101A needed 44 minutes, 45 seconds.

When we recorded the same data to Verbatim 2X BD-R single-layer media, however, the drive blazed through writing 22GB, doing so in 27 minutes, 23 seconds.

Where the GGW-H10NI lagged dramatically was in its rewritable BD-RE performance. Here, it required a whopping 2 hours, 14 minutes to write 22GB of data--nearly three times as long as its competitors took. According to LG, the drive's software is using write verification, a process that slows down performance.

In addition to CyberLink's Power2Go, this Serial ATA drive's well-rounded software bundle includes the PowerDVD movie player and PowerDVD Producer.

The LG GGW-H10I merits attention not just because of its fast write-once BD-R performance. As the first product to put both Blu-ray and HD DVD technologies in a single PC drive, the GGW-H10I proves that the two formats can coexist in the same device. Getting that capability, though, comes at a high price; for less money you could buy a Blu-ray Disc burner and a separate HD DVD-ROM reader. This drive is one salvo in the ongoing format war, and others like it will inevitably follow, but its cost limits its appeal.

LG Electronics GGW-H10NI Super Multi Blue BD Drive/HD DVD Reader

First Blu-ray/HD DVD combo drive delivers on its promised format harmony, but its price is sky-high.
List: $1199
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At a Glance
  • First Blu-ray/HD DVD combo drive delivers on its promised format harmony, but its price is sky-high.


    • Handles Blu-ray and HD DVD playback
    • Burns Blu-ray Discs


    • High price
    • No writable HD DVD support
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