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Appeared on: Friday, April 11, 2008
LiteOn DH4O1S BD-ROM


1. Blu-ray entertainment on the PC

The DH401S is LiteON's latest internal Blu-ray drive and the company's second drive that carries the "Blu-ray disc" logo, after the LiteOn LH-2B1S BD burner. However, this drive is a BD-ROM device and supports reading of all the CD/DVD/BD media currently available, except from the DVD-RAM. LiteON has already released in the US another version of the DH401S drive supporting reading of DVD-RAM discs.

Reading speeds of BD media are set high enough. Specifically, the drive can read all of the BD types at 4X. DVD±R media can be read at 12X, DVD±R DL at 8X, and DVD±RW at 8X.

- Key Features

- Drive Specifications In Detail

BD Family Read
BD-ROM 4X
BD-RE 4X
BD-R DL 4X
BD-RE DL 4X
Access time 160ms
DVD Family Read
DVD+R/-R 12x
DVD+R/-R DL 8x
DVD+RW/-RW 8x
Access time 160ms
 
CD Family Read 40X
Access time 160ms
PC Required

Pentium 4 2.0GHz or faster CPU and 512MB or higher RAM are required.
> 30GB HDD available capacity.

For High Definition BD Playback & Authoring: (Only Windows XP SP2)
Pentium D 3.4GHz or faster CUP and 1GB or higher RAM are required.
GPU : nVidia GeForce 7600GT / 7800GTX512 / 7900GX2 / 7900GTX /   7950GX2 and ATI X1600 / X1800 / X1900 series are recommended.
>60GB HDD available capacity.
HDCP capable graphics card with 256MB RAM, PCI Express x16, 1920x1200 resolution, 32bit color.                                                                  
HDCP capable Monitor or TV for High Definition digital output. 
Compatibility Microsoft Windows 2000 SP4 / XP SP2 / Vista
General Environment
Operating 5°C to 50°C; Relative Humidity: 8% to 80%
Non-Operating -20°C to 60°C; Relative Humidity: 5% to 95%
Dimension 145.8(W) x 41.4(H) x 180(D) mm
Weight < 0.8Kg
Voltage Requirements
+5V +/-5% ripple: 100mVpp
+12V +/-10% ripple: 200mVPP

Retail Box

Including:

- Photos of the drive:

Front and Rear view photos of the drive.

The drive is stylish and definitely matches to your black PC box.

It connects to the PC via the SATA interface.

Our test sample was manufactured on the December 2007 in China.

Installation

The drive was recognized as "ATAPI BD O DH4O1S" . It comes with a 8MB internal buffer memory for worry-free playback of DVD and especially Blu-ray movies. Region control for the DVD format is the typical RPC-2, while for the BD format, the drive follows the international region codes as we will see in the following pages.

Let's now move on to the reading tests.


2. CD reading tests

For our CD transfer rate tests, we used the Nero CD-Speed utility and a set of data and audio CD-R/RW/ROM. The drive can read CD media at a maximum speed of 32X. The results of another BD-ROM drive, the Pioneer BDC-202, have been included in the charts for comparison.

For each CDSpeed graph, you can click on the image to see the complete screenshot of the software, including the measuring results.

- CD-ROM

- US RW

The following CD Speed graph shows the reading performance with US-RW media.Read it at 32x.

 

- AudioCD

In the CD Speed Advanced DAE quality test, the drive's average speed was 22.94X with a quality score of 100.

A typical Data Audio Extraction followed in the test, giving an average ripping speed of 23X.

- 90/99 mins Audio disc

90min Audio

99min Audio

The drive was able to read only the 90 min audio cd.


3. CD error correction tests

In the following tests, we check the drive's behavior when reading scratched / defective audio discs.

If you don’t know what error concealment is, or if you have never heard of dB or ECC, this test is most probably nothing for you. It is mainly for interested users and professionals that want to know which drive has the best optical system, and how a drive performs on error correction and error concealment.

Using a CD-R disc in best shape when you test the error correction capabilities of a drive (DAE test) is ridiculous, if your drive would not read audio CDs error free from an error free disc, you would probably return the drive back to the vendor. It is far more interesting to see how a drive is behaving under critical conditions (which will also tell something about the DAE quality on CDs that have manipulated C2 error information on purpose). For that a special test we used the ABEX series of test CDs from ALMEDIO.

The testing procedure is simple. First the ABEX test CD is inserted in the drive to test, and the audio track are extracted to a hard disk. It is important to use a buffered burst mode for the test (for example, the burst more in EAC is buffered). Burst mode is important because the error handling qualities of the drive should be rated, not the ones of the software.

After having extracted the file, it is analyzed using a special program called analyse.exe. Analysis actualy includes the comparison of the extracted file (test.wav) with the reference file (reference.wav), which is the result of the extraction of the content of the the same test disc without any defects on it. The more these two files are matching to each other, the better the error correction of the tested drive is.

The analysis may take 0.5-1.5 hours depending on the amount of errors and of the computer used.

- ABEX TCD-721R

Analysis for this test took more than 1 hour.

Errors total
Num : 397810551
Errors (Loudness)
Num : 1882477
Avg : -23,7 dB(A)
Max : -3,2dB(A)
Error Muting
Num : 758554
Avg : 1,1Samples
Max : 470 Samples
Skips
Num : 15
Avg :2760.1 Samples
Max 2939 Samples
Total Test Result
47,5 points(of 100.0 maximum

Error correction started too early. This is a sign of bad error correction mechanisms. Furthermore, the noise level was too high, almost always over -60db(A). This fact shows us that the drive's error correction mechanisms are also mediocre.

In addition, many muted errors were reported, although their sample lenght was short. It seems that the drive is capable of hiding errors.

- ABEX TCD-726R

Errors total
Num : 397812490
Errors (Loudness)
Num : 1882487
Avg : -23,7dB(A)
Max : -3,2 dB(A)
Error Muting
Num : 760651
Avg : 1.1Samples
Max :470 Samples
Skips
Num :15
Avg :2760.1 Samples
Max 2939 Samples
Total Test Result
47,5 points(of 100.0 maximum)

Same results here, although that we had an other kind of defect.

It seems that the drive treated the two test discs in a similar manner no matter what kind of defects they carried on their surface.

- CD-Check Audio Test Disc

The CD-Check Test Disc is another 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 (e.g. 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
LiteON BD O DH-401S
5/5
5/5
5/5
5/5
0/5

Contrary to the previous two tests, the drive performed better here, playing successfully 4 tracks. Interruptions were reported in the 5th track.


4. DVD reading tests

Now let's take a look at how the drive performs with DVD media. This time, a set of SL and DL DVD media was used. The drive is capable of reading at 12X maximum speed for single layer DVD ROM and at 8X for dual layer DVD ROM media.

DVD-ROM SL media -

 

PTP DVD-ROM -

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

 

 

OTP DVD-ROM -

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 of 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 and progresses towards the inner part of the disc.

 

 

- DVD-R

 

- DVD-RW

 

 

- DVD+R

 

- DVD+RW

 

- DVD+R DL

 

-DVD-R DL

 

 

- DVD Ripping speed.

Ripping of a single layer DVD movie:

Average 8,19KB/s (5.9x)
Maximum 11,36KB/s (8.2X)

The drive read all the DVD disc fast and met its specifications. Although the supported speeds are slightly lower than what a typical DVD burner can offer, they are still adequate for your everyday tasks. The Pioneer BD-ROM was slightly faster in the DVD-R/+R reading tests.

 


5. DVD error correction tests

In the following tests, we examine the DVD reading capabilities of the drive (error correction) with scratched / defective DVD media. For the tests, we used CDVD Benchmark and Nero CDSpeed. The reference test media comes from ALMEDIO.

- Single Layer media

ABEX TDR-821

This is a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM with a 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.

Some read errors were produced, approaching the end of the disc.

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.

 

 

Average error correction again, not successfully overcoming the defects.

- 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 TDR-841's defects made the drive produce read errors, as its error correction mechanisms are not good enough to read it flawlessly.

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.

 

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.

 

The drive was not able to successfully read the defective disc.

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 data surface, sized from 0.4 to 1.0 mm. It also has 65 - 75 micrometer fingerprints.

 

Contrary to the drive's earlier performance, the defects on ABEX TDV-545 were easily overcome by the drive, giving a very smooth reading graph.

Overall, the drive seems to return read errors mostly when it switched layers in dual-layer discs, as well as in the end of the data area of single DVDs. This does not necessarily mean that your DVD movie will freeze during reproduction, but you may have experience bad sectors when you read your old back up DVDs.


6. Blu-ray reading tests

Let's now see how the drive performs with various Blu-ray discs.

-BD-ROM SL (25GB, movie)

-BD-ROM DL (50GB, movie)

- BD-R SL (25GB, data)

-BD-R DL (50GB, data)

-BD-RE SL (25GB, data)

-BD-RE DL

The drive's specifications indicate that it is also able to read BD-RE DL media. However, such discs are not currnetly available on the market. Mitsubishi Chemicals are expected to release samples later this year.

Overall, the LiteOn drive read the all the Blu-ray discs of this test easily and fast enough. A slight drop in the reading curve was reported by CDSpeed at the second layer of the 50GB discs, although ut does not seem to influence the good performance.


7. BD Movie Playback

In order to perform our BD Movie Playback tests, we used two BD Movies. The first one is "Open Season" (SL BD) and the other one is "Casino Royale" (DL BD). The screenshots that we have gathered are from the playback of the first movie.

The drive's minimum system reqirements for BD playback are:

However, the recommended specifications for BD Playback and Authoring are:

Our testing system consisted of the following:

and the playback process was completed flawlessly.

We connected our non-HDCP monitor with a typical analog (VGA) connector. The reason of us doing this, was our intention to check any possible downgrade on the image quality, when using an analog monitor instead of an HDCP-capable. However, this did not occur, at least with the two Blu-ray titles we used in this test. For the same reason, we used the highest possible resolution with this monitor, which was also close enough to the High Definition specifications.

Should someone want to watch a BD movie on an HDCP capable TV, he would have to connect the graphics card digital output (DVI) to the TV's digital input (DV I to HDMI cable), and also connect the output of the audio card to the adjacent TV/Home Cinema input.

The application we used to watch the movies was Cyberlink Power DVD v8.

Firstly, we had to change the drive's region according to the region of the movie.

The playback started, and here are some screenshots:

In this frame PowerDVD shows us info about the movie and the video/audio bitrate for a specific scene. This varied from approximately 10Mbps to 45Mbps, depending on the complexity of each scene of the movie.

Playback was flawless with the CPU utilization to hardly reach the 25%, for the specific PC configuration. Forward/reverse operations were resumed without any problems throughout the complete movie.


8. Final words

With the DH-401S, LiteON is aiming at those who would like a drive for BD movie playback, while also having a fast CD/DVD/BD media reader. Reading speeds are set high enough.

Another good feature of the drive is the SATA interface, which provides faster data transfer between the PC and the drive. Considering the high bitrate of BD movies, this is something that can turn out to be very useful .

However, as it is with all kinds of optical storage, the integrity of the read-out data plays a big role in the whole scene. A good reader is one that is fast and qualitative, meaning that it has good error correction mechanisms. Let's move on to the test summary to evaluate the overall performance of our drive.

CD/DVD/BD media reading was fast, justifying LiteON's official specs. DAE was also fast enough for your everyday needs.

The error correction mechanisms of the drive were mediocre. Reading of our artificially defective discs many times produced read errors. Furthermore, the drive was not able to read the ABEX TDV-541 dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc. This same fact applies on CD error correction, as the drive produced high levels of digital noise at the reading process of the ABEX audio CDs. The error correction process started too early while reading the disc (even when the defect was almost inexistent).This is not so good, as many other drives of the competition manage to successfully read and overcome many of the defects of these discs.

Exceptions to the drive's bad performance are the CD-Check test and the ABEX TDV-545 which were almost flawless performances compared to the competition.

Blu-ray reproduction was also flawless, for both single and dual layer BD movies. Seek times were also low and the movie refused to "freeze" no matter our attempts to push it to its limits by pressing the FF/RW buttons. Good job for the LiteOn drive.

To sum up, the DH-401S' performance was average. Very nice reading speed, but, on the contrary, mediocre error correction mechanisms. However, when you mix these up with its relatively low price, the drive becomes a good buy. It is the only BD player that can be bought for about $150, while maintaining a decent overall performance.



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