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Appeared on: Thursday, April 28, 2005
LiteON vs LG


1. LG GDR8163B

LG is one of the largest participants in the optical storage industry. LG has the biggest market share in many countries and usually, its burners are well tuned and with unique features. In November 2000, Hitachi and LG formed a new joint venture to manufacture optical storage drives under the name "HL-DS".

"...Based on the cutting-edge development technology of Hitachi Ltd. and the advanced mass production technology and high-level marketing performance of LG Electronics Inc., we have been succeeding in creating technical synergy effect and is one of the leading company of the world in optical storage drive industry. "

is a joint company consisting of Hitachi, Ltd. and LG Electronics, Inc., which started business in January of 2001. We develop and sell optical data storage disc drives for PC OEM and keep top share in the world. Our main products are DVD writable drives, DVD-ROM drives, CD-RW drives, CD-ROM drives and its combination drives. Development sites are located in Tokyo (Japan) and in Pyungtaik (Korea)."

Company Profile

Company Name : Hitachi-LG Data Storage, Inc.
Established : November 22, 2000 (business started on January 1, 2001)
Head office Location : 4F MSC Center Building
22-23 Kaigan 3-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0022 Japan
Phone : +81-3-5427-8600
Representative Director, CEO : Kazuya Hori
Capital Stock : JPY 1,500M

"Since the establishment of the company, we' ve handled a wide range of optical storage drive products including DVD-RAM, DVD-ROM/CD-RW Combination, DVD-ROM, CD-RW and CD-ROM drives. Recently, we' ve developed the world's first Super Multi Drive which supports all DVD write formats. HLDS tries to be the first in supplying the consumer with the products that they desire..."

We received the latest DVD-ROM from LG, capable of 16X reading speed for the DVD-ROM and 52X for the CD-ROM formats. The full specifications for this drive are summarized below:

- Specifications

Read Speed (DVD) Max 16x
Read Speed (CD) Max 52x
Data Transfer Rate (DVD) Max 22,100KB/s
Data Transfer Rate (CD) Max 7,800KB/s
Access Time (CD) 98msec
Access Time (DVD) 110msec
Buffer Size 256KB
Loading Type Motorized Tray
Interface Type Internal E-IDE / ATAPI / ULTRA DMA 33
Compatible Formats Write CD-R/RW
Compatible Formats Read DVD+R/+RW, DVD-R/-RW, DVD-RAM, DVD-ROM, CD-R/RW, CD-ROM Mode 1,2, CD-DA, CD-I FMV, CD-ROM XA, Mixed CD, CD Extra, CD Plus, CD Text, Photo-CD, Video CD
Dimensions - (W×D×H) 146mm x 184.6mm x 41.3mm
Weight 780g
O/S Window 95, 98, 2K,ME,NT4.0 or later,XP

The drive also uses the RPC II region control, allowing a user to change the drive's region at most 5 times. This is however something which can be changed! In the following pages, you'll learn how ;-)

- The package

We received the drive out of the box so we cannot confirm what the package does and doesn't include.

On the front panel there are the DVD-ROM and the compact disc logos, while the LG brand name is in the center of the tray. The activity indicator light is located left of center and the emergency eject hole right of center. On the far right is the eject button.

On the rear panel you can see the analogue and digital outputs (SPDIF), the IDE connector and the power input.

Removing the screws and opening the drive's cover voids the drive's warranty. For reference reasons, we post the following pictures. You can click on the mainboard picture for a higher resolution image:

- Installation

The drive was installed as secondary master and WindowsXP recognized it as "HL-DT-ST DVD-ROM GDR8163B ". The drive arrived with firmware vOL23.

- Testing software

In order to perform our tests we used:

  1. Nero CD-DVD Speed v3.75
  2. CDVD Benchmark v1.21
  3. ExactAudioCopy v0.9 beta5
  4. Nero Info Tool v3.00
  5. DVD Decrypter 3.5.4.0
  6. DVDInfoPro v3.51

2. LiteOn SOHD-16P9S

The SOHD-16P9S is the successor to the very popular 167T model. The new DVD-ROM from LiteOn supports 16X DVD reading and 48X for CD. It will be rather interesting to see how this very promising drive will perform.

- Features

- ATAPI/E-IDE Half-Height internal DVD+R / DVD+R9 / DVD+RW / DVD-R / DVD-RW / DVD-ROM /
CD-R / CD-RW / CD-ROM combination drive
- SMART-X Smart Monitoring & Adjusting Read-speed Technology for eXtraction
- ABS® (Auto Balance System) mechanism to reduce vibration & noise while high speed rotating
- Plug & Play with emergency manual eject
- Belt Tray Loading Mechanism

- Specifications

Interface ATAPI/E-IDE
Disc Size 8cm / 12cm
Data Transfer Rate DVD-ROM 16X(21600KB/sec) by CAV
CD-ROM 48(7200KB/sec) by CAV
Buffer Size 512KB
Support Media  
Front Panel On/Busy LED, Door, Emergency Eject, Open/Close/Stop
Disc Loading Tray
Installation Angle Horizonal/Vertical
Random Access Time DVD-ROM 105ms (typical)
CD-ROM 95ms (typical)
Audio Specifications Line Output Level 0.7 ± 0.2Vrms
S/N Ratio 60dB
Enviroment Temprature: Operating : 5°C to 45°C Storage: -20°C to 60°C
Humidity: Operating: 15-80% Storage: 15-90%
Physical Dimensions 146(W) x 41.3(H) x 170(D) mm
Weight 0.8 Kg
Power Requirement DC +12V ± 5%, DC 5V ± 5%
MTBF 70000 Hours
Compatibility Windows 98/NT4.0/ME/2000/XP

The drive uses the RPC II region control, allowing users to change the drive's region at most 5 times. However, as can been seen below, this is something which can be changed very easily. All you need is the appropriate utility from LiteOn or Kprobe.

- The package

The kit contains the drive itself, a multilingual installation guide, Cyberlink's PowerDVD Software, an audio cable and four mounting screws.

The front panel has only the DVD-ROM and "compact disc" logos. Left of center there is the emergency eject hole with the power indicator which blinks green while the drive is reading closer to center. The eject button is on the right side.

Removing the drive's case will void the warranty, something we don't recommend. Press on the image below for an enlarged view:

- Installation

The drive was installed as secondary master and WindowsXP recognized it as "LITE-ON DVD SOHD-16P9S ". The drive arrived with firmware vFS02.

- Testing software

In order to perform our tests we used:

  1. Nero CD-DVD Speed v3.75
  2. CDVD Benchmark v1.21
  3. ExactAudioCopy v0.9 beta5
  4. Nero Info Tool v3.00
  5. DVD Decrypter 3.5.4.0
  6. DVDInfoPro v3.51

In the following pages we compare the performance of the two DVD-ROM drives with that of the Toshiba SD-M1912, Asus DVD-E616P2 and Samsung TS-H352 drives.


3. Transfer Rate Reading Tests

In order to confirm the CD reading specifications for the two drives on test, we used one CD pressed media, a copy on CD-R and one on HS-RW media. The results are illustrated in the following graphs.

- CD Format

LiteOn exhibited more stable performance with all tested media while the LG was the fastest with pressed and US-RW media.

- DVD Format

We repeated the same tests with DVD media this time.

All drives reported similar speeds. The differences can be considered as negligible.

The following DVD is a PTP DVD-ROM where the two layers of the disc are read sequentially with the drive starting the reading process from the inner part of the disc, which is the beginning of each layer, progressing towards the outer range for each layer.

The Asus and LG drives were the fastest with an end speed of just over 12X while the other drives reached just under 8.5X.

The graph shown below, indicates the reading performance of the five drives with OTP dual layer media. The first layer of an OTP dual layer DVD-ROM is read exactly the same way as the first layer of the PTP disc we tested previously. The difference here is the reading strategy of the second layer on the disc. The beginning of the second layer is located in the outer part of the disc, so the drive starts reading from the outer tracks towards the inner part of the disc.

Once again the Asus and LG drives proved to be the fastest.

The two following graphs include the reading performance with recordable and rewritable media.

Here, the Asus with a consistent average reading speed of 7.3X with all media was the fastest, followed close behind by the LiteOn at 6.44X. In fact, all the drives were very consistent with all media. The LG GDR8163B was the slowest at 4.58X.

We ripped the contents of a pressed Double Layer movie to the hard disk using all the drives. The results are given below:

The higher ripping speeds belongs to the Asus and the Toshiba drives.

Only the LG, Toshiba and Samsung drives support DVD-RAM reading. All had an average speed close to 2X.


-Appendix Nero CD-DVD Speed Graphs

LG

LiteOn


4. CD Error Correction Tests
In the following tests we check both drives behavior when reading scratched / defective audio discs. The test discs used were the ABEX series from ALMEDIO.

- ABEX TCD-721R

Errors total
Num: 873740
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 50130
Avg: -74.3 dB(A)
Max: -16.7 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 2793
Avg: 1.2 Samples
Max: 161 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0.0 Samples
Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result
76.8 points (out of 100.0 maximum)
C2 Accuracy
99.7 %

Errors total
Num: 1080563
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 53891
Avg: -73.7 dB(A)
Max: -14.9 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 3430
Avg: 1.0 Samples
Max: 9 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0.0 Samples
Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result
76.6 points (out of 100.0 maximum)
C2 Accuracy
99.7 %

Both drives, but especially the LG had low total error counts while the average error loudness levels were also low. Both drives had 0 skipped samples and their total test result score of 76.8 and 76.6 ( LG and LiteOn respectively) is a good indication of their good performance. Both drives produced a good C2 Accuracy score of 99.7%.

- ABEX TCD-726

Errors total
Num: 69
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 13
Avg: -84.2 dB(A)
Max: -65.2 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0.0 Samples
Max: 0 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0.0 Samples
Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result
93.0 points (out of 100.0 maximum)
C2 Accuracy
100.0 %

Errors total
Num: 137
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 10
Avg: -69.2 dB(A)
Max: -64.6 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0.0 Samples
Max: 0 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0.0 Samples
Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result
93.5 points (out of 100.0 maximum)
C2 Accuracy
100 %

Very good results for this disc also although the best drives can produce test result scores of 100.

- CD-Check Audio Test Disc

The CD-Check Test Disc is a very useful tool for evaluating the Sound Reproduction / Error correction capabilities of a CD player. The disc offers a signal combination with disc error patterns to rate the drive's abilities to read music and reproduce it completely. Five tracks on the disc contain a sequence of progressively more difficult tests. These tracks are referred to as Check Level-1 through Check Level-5.

The tracks are reproduced through a software multimedia player (i.e. Windows Media Player). Each level is considered as passed, if the tone is smooth, continuous without interruptions, skipping or looping. The higher the Check Level passed, the more reliable the sound reproduction of the tested drive.

Error Level
1
2
3
4
5
LG GDR8163B 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5 0/5

Error Level
1
2
3
4
5
LiteOn SOHD-16P9S 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5 0/5

Both drives successfully passed four out of the five check levels for this test. This is very good performance since an average drive manages to play up to the third level while very few drives manage to read the fifth.

- Summary

Overall the error correction is good for both drives.


5. DVD Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we examine the DVD reading capabilities of the drives with scratched / defective DVD media. For the tests we used CDVD Benchmark and Nero CDSpeed. The reference test media came from ALMEDIO.

- Single Layer media

ABEX TDR-821

This is a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM with 4.7GB capacity, and its surface has an artificial scratch of dimensions varying from 0.4 to 3.0 mm.

 

The following transfer rate picture comes from the CDVD Benchmark v1.21 transfer rate test.

The performance is reasonably good from both drives. Strangely, the LiteOn drive had more problems reading at the end of the disc than over the defective region.

ABEX TDR-825

This is also a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM of 4.7GB capacity. The data structure of the disc is exactly the same as that of the TDR-821, with the difference that there are no scratches on it but instead defective areas of dimensions ranging from 0.5 to 1.1 mm.

There are also fingerprints sized between 65 and 75 micrometers.

Excellent performance from the LG drive while the LiteOn once again had problems at the end of the disc.

- Dual Layer media

ABEX TDR-841

This is an 8.5GB dual layer, single sided DVD-ROM disc with artificial scratches of dimensions ranging from 0.4 to 3.0mm, on both layers.

 

The performance is more than good from both DVD-ROMs. The LiteOn produced the cleaner graph with an almost perfect performance.

ABEX TDR-845

The disc is a single sided, dual layer DVD-ROM disc with a capacity of 8.5GB. The only difference between the TDR-845 and the TDR-841 is that the first includes defective areas and fingerprints. The dimensions of the defective areas range from 0.5 to 1.1 mm and the fingerprints are sized from 65 to 75 micrometers.

Excellent performance from both drives.

ABEX TDV-541

The TDV-541 is a single sided, dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc, with a capacity of 8.5GB.The disc is based upon the TDV-540 series which is designed for inspection and adjustment of DVD-VIDEO players. The disc checks the layer switch operation from layer 0 to layer 1 and also includes test pictures and test signals for DVD sound files.

The current TDV-541 also checks the error correcting capabilities of the drive and includes scratches from 0.4 to 3.0 mm.


LG GDR8163B


LiteOn SOHD-16P9S

The reading process finished successfully for both drives with a smooth reading graph.

ABEX TDV-545

The TDV-545 disc is based on the TDV-540 series. It is a single sided, dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc with a capacity of 8.5GB.

 

 

The TDV-545 includes artificial black dots on the disc's surface, sized from 0.4 to 1.0 mm. It also has 65 - 75 micrometer thickness, fingerprints.


LG GDR8163B


LiteOn SOHD-16P9S

Black dots and fingerprints on the disc's surface did not create any reading problems and both drives finished the task successfully.


6. DAE Tests

- Pressed and CDR AudioCD results

The LG supports a maximum 52X DAE speed while the LiteOn 48X.

The LiteOn drive was more consistent with both media types while the LG although fastest with the pressed CD, lost a good deal in speed when reading CD-R media.

EAC also reported the following information for each drive:

LG
LiteOn

- Advanced DAE Quality

All tested drives received a perfect quality score of 100. The LiteOn was the fastest.


Advanced DAE Quality for LG


Advanced DAE Quality for LiteOn

- Ripping 90mins AudioCDs


LG


LiteOn

- Ripping 99mins AudioCDs


LG


LiteOn

The LG drive managed to read only the 99min test disc while LiteOn failed in both tests.


7. Protected AudioCDs

For the test procedure we used three audio discs with different audio copy protections. The ripping process performed for all protected Audio discs was carried out with Exact Audio Copy v0.9beta5.

The tested protected Audio discs were:

The Cactus Data Shield 200 contains artificial errors that are not easy to bypass with the reader, while the Key2Audio contains a second session, causing problems to readers when trying to read the Table Of Contents (TOC).

The tested tasks are:

All drives recognized up to the 13th Audio track of CDS200 disc,

and with the "Retrieve Native TOC" option removed, also recognized the 13th Data track.

The test results are shown in the following table:

Key2Audio
CDS200
LG GDR8163B
Ripping process completed, EAC reports no problems, Read&Test CRC comparison successful for all tracks
Ripping process completed, EAC reports no problems, Read&Test CRC comparison successful for all tracks
LiteOn SOHD-16P9S
Ripping process completed, EAC reports no problems, Read&Test CRC comparison successful for all tracks
Ripping process completed, EAC reports no problems, Read&Test CRC comparison successful for all tracks

Very good behavior against protection from both drives. Both discs were recognized and ripped successfully.

This is a "special" CDS200 build, since it doesn't contain any artificial errors during the ripping process. Most problems occur when trying to write the ripped wav files, since the produced CD-R disc contains C2 and CU errors! This "problem" is rumored to be connected to specific writer chipset weaknesses.

CDS 200.0.4 - 3.0 build 16a
LG GDR8163B
Ripping process completed, EAC reports no problems, Read&Test CRC comparison successful for all tracks
LiteOn SOHD-16P9S

Once again, the performance was very similar from both drives.


8. Protected Disc Tests

- Reading Tests

To create the image of the various protected titles to the hard disk, we used the latest version of Alcohol 120% software and the appropriate settings, according to the protection type of the inserted discs. Below you can see the duration of each process as well as the transfer rate in each case.
Game Title Protection Scheme Drive Duration Reading speed
PSX "NBA Jam Extreme"   Lybcrypt   LG 00:44min 2054 sectors/sec
LiteOn 00:48 min 1883 sectors/sec
Serious Sam The Second Encounter v1.07   SafeDisc v.2.60.052   LG 16:54 min 331 sectors/sec
LiteOn 10:10 min 550 sectors/sec
VRally II   SecuROM v.2   LG 02:36min 2218 sectors/sec
LiteOn 02:35min 2218 sectors/sec

Safedisc protection seems to be present the biggest problem for both the LG and the LiteOn drives. Their performance however was good with the other two protection schemes.


9. Quality Scans

Between the two drives under test, only the LiteOn supports this advanced feature. The LG cannot run such tests either with DVDinfoPro or CDSpeed. For this reason, we will present the results from the LiteOn drive.

For checking exactly what the LiteOn DVD-ROM reports, we used four different media, burned with other recorders. The three media have been measured using the well known AudioDev SA300 DVD CATS system at 1X.

The drive is capable of reporting PI/PIF errors, so we will compare those measurements at 4X reading speed.

Please note that the posted results are only valid for the specific tested LiteON SOHW-1633S drive. Using other drives, even another SOHD-16P9S, can produce totally different results. Be aware!

#1st Test Disc

The trends are similar but the values are different.

#2nd Test Disc

Once again the trends are similar but this time the reported values are closer than in the previous case.

#3rd Test Disc

Almost same trends but with big difference in values.

#4th Test Disc

The trend line once again seems the same but with differences as far as values are concerned.


10. Hacked Firmware for LG

The only available firmware currently is for Auto Reset and RPC1, based on 0L14, 0L15, 0L16, 0L23, 0F21, 0N21 and 0B26.

We downloaded the utility, which at the time of the review was available only in beta version and we started the flashing process:

After we rebooted, we found that the previous region code had been reset and the 4 available changes had disappeared.


11. Hacked Firmware for LiteOn

* 06/09/2005 Review Updated

A more recent patched version of the fw FS09 has been released. The drive can read up to 16X all DVD SL formats and DVD-ROM DL, while for rest of the DL it supports 12X.

Firstly select the patcher utility, namely 16P9S.FS09.patcher, in order to adjust the firmware to your own needs.

You can set the speed for each format seperately depending on the available speeds provided by the utility. We set them all to maximum speed.

Now the 16P9S.FS09.patched firmware has been created and it is ready for use. Run it to flash the drive...

Now the patched firmware has been installed and we can start the reading tests. The rest of the drives, presented in the following graphs, have their official firmwares installed and are all the same as in the rest of the review, apart from the Asus which is the latest one, more recent than the DVD-E616P2 used in previous pages.

There is no reason for comments as the graphs speak for themselves. The patced firmware made the drive extremely fast, as a matter of fact it reached its limits. However, if you observe the complete CD-DVD Speed Graphs, you'll notice that sometimes, especially with the RW discs, the drive had to slow down for a while.

- Nero CD-DVD Speed Graphs

DVD Pressed SL
DVD Pressed DL PTP
DVD Pressed DL OTP
DVD-R
DVD-RW
DVD+R
DVD+RW

It would be rather interesting to see what the error correction of the drive at such high speeds would be..

The error correction is not as effective as with the official firmware, but this is something we should expect since the reading speed has been doubled, from 8X to 16X. Even at such a high speed the readings were completed successfully, in spite of the fact that the spped dropped at times.

Since the patcher allows you to define the speed at 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16X, you can reduce it to 14X or even 12X and reflash the drive, in case you come up with any problems at 16X regarding specific media.

One thing we noticed is that everytime we flashed the drive with the patched firmware, the region count was reset to 5. That was good...

So, it seems that for the time being the LiteOn SOHD-16P9S could be no less than the perfect purchase.


12. Conclusion

The LiteOn drive is a fast CD reader regardless of whether the media is pressed, CD-R, CD-RW or AudioCD, while the LG drive seems to perform better with pressed media. This is something which also happens with DVD media. LG was faster with pressed DVD-ROM Double Layer test discs but not with the DVD±R/RW where the LiteOn performed better. The ripping process revealed that both drives had similar speeds. DVD-RAM support is an extra advantage of the LG drive.

To be honest however, we expected something more from both drives, something closer to the Asus DVD-ROM or the LiteOn 167 with the hacked firmware in order to say we were satisfied with their performance.

Error correction was also similar for both readers with the LiteOn being slightly better with the CD format. All DVD test discs were read without reporting any errors and at high speeds.

Another thing we liked was that if you are planning to read Key2Audio or CDS200 protected AudioCDs, both drives will help you in your quest. All tested discs were recognized and ripped without problems. When it comes to game protections, both drives will make SecuROM and PSX images quite fast but Safedisc is a bit of a problem, which is also the case with most drives.

The quality scans for recorded media is a strong feature of the LiteOn DVD-ROM. Unfortunately, the LG drive we had, failed with CDSpeed and DVDinfoPro.

One thing we always like about the LiteOn drives, is their unofficial support with altered firmware upgrades that make the drive faster in all tasks, something that made the previous DVD-ROM from LiteOn very popular. This is something that we are waiting for with the new 169 reader.

Fortunately, both drives can be set to region free. For the LiteOn, the procedure is simple and doesn't require re-flashing the drive with new firmware, something that is the case with the LG.

The price for the drives is almost the same, at approximately US$25.



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