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Appeared on: Monday, September 20, 2010
Samsung SH-B123L review


1. Features, specifications

Today we put Samsung's SH-B123L 12x Blu-ray disc combo drive under out usual tests. This is Samsung's second BD combo drive, after the SH-B083L model that supported 8x reading for Blu-ray discs. The new drive can play Blu-ray discs and record to CDs and DVDs. Plus, it has fast read speeds, which go all the way up to 12x for BD-ROM discs. In addition to HD picture support (1920 x 1080 pixels), the SHB123L is available with a capacity of up to 25 GB for a single-layer disc, and 50 GB for a dual-layer disc. The SH B123L is also equipped with several technologies for smooth operation, including two lenses and two laser diodes for reading and writing data to CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs.

The drive does not offer the writing capabilities found on more expensive units, but its relatively low cost could be attractive to users who need a BD drive in order to watch Blu-ray movies on their computers. It retails retails for about €85~90 in online stores.

Basic features include 12x BD read speeds, reading of DVD's at 16x and CD's at 48x. In addition, the drive will burn your DVDs at 16 max and your CDs at 48x. Below you can see more details about the drive's basic features:

  • SATA interface, 5 ¼" Half-Height internal BD Combo drive.
  • Max. 12X CAV BD-ROM SL (no movie), 8X BD-ROM /BD-R /BD-RE DL CAV reading
  • Max.16X DVD+R/-R SL writing, 8X DVD+RDL/-RDL writing
  • Max. 12x DVD-RAM writing/reading
  • Max. 16X DVD-ROM/+R/-R reading
  • Max. 12X DVD+RDL/-RDL/-RW/+RW reading
  • Max. 48X CD-ROM, 40X CD-R/RW reading
  • Max. 48X CD-R, 24X CD-RW writing
  • Buffer Under Run Free Technology: Prevents Buffer Under Run error, enabling high-speed.
  • Precision Step Control Technology PSCT: The track pitch of Blu-ray disc is half of the track pitch of DVD discs. Smaller BD track pitch requires more resolution in OPU position control system
  • Spherical Aberation Compensation Technology SACT: Improves reading quality on a BD whose protective layer is not uniform in thickness
  • Aerodynamic Frame Design: Lower acoustic noise by eliminating pressure concentrator in specific areas
  • Speed Adjustment Technology S.A.T
  • Double O.P.C Technology
  • Tilt Actuator Compensation Technology T.A.C
  • Buffer Underrun Free Technology
  • Weight Balancing System W.B.S
  • Automatic Ball Balancing System A.B.S
  • Magic Speed: Enables flexibility of drive operation ; low noise mode and high-speed mode.
  • Lightscribe

Retail package

 

The retail package of the drive includes:

The drive sports a glossy finish, and has the stylish operation LED / eject button below the tray:

The rear panel is straightforward and and has a power connector and the SATA interface:

 

 

Let's take a look at the drive's internal board. It is recommended not to open the case of your drive since that would void the warranty.

The main board is small as you can see in the picture below:

Click for HD image

Click for large image

The drive uses the Mediatek ARM MT1939L SDU controller.

The drive was connected to the PC via a typical SATA interface and was identified as "DVDWBD SH-B123L " firmware version SB01:

However, TSST released a new firmware soon after we finished our testing. The new SB02 firmware offers the following enhancements:

As a result, we run the corresponding tests related to DVD DL (writing, reading , quality) and 8cm BD-RE reading with the latest Ver. SB02 firmware installed.


2. CD reading speeds

For our CD transfer rate tests we used the Nero Disc Speed utility and a set of data and audio CD-R/RW/ROM media. Here we test the maximum reading speed of the Samsung drive (40x/48x) for each type of disc.

-CD-ROM

- US RW

The following CD Speed graph shows the reading performance with US-RW media.

 

The disc was read at 40x CAV.

- AudioCD

In the CD Speed Advanced DAE quality test, the drive's average speed was 27.94x with a quality score of 100.

Digital Audio Extraction or DAE is important when we try to read the files stored on an audio CD and store them in our hard disk drive. The procedure is not always that simple and the fidelity of the extracted data depend on the way each drive handles these data.

The majority of the software that support this procedure, commonly known as "ripping", will just read the audio files and store them on your hard disk. However, this approach is not recommended for all drives, since it may result to read or sync errors if your drive does not support report of C2 error pointer information and also what the author of the EAC (Exact Audio Copy) software describes as "accurate stream" and " non-caching."

According to EAC, the Samsung SH-B123L drive supports "caching, " "Accurate stream" and returns "C2 error" pointer information.

Accurate stream and C2 error reporting is always welcome and contribute to reliable and fast audio extraction. Generally, if you select a drive for extraction better have a look that the drive does not cache audio data.

According to these results and in case you use the EAC software for your rippings, you may choose the "Secure" mode of audio extraction among the available extraction modes of the software.

If you are sure about the physical condition of your audio CD and you need faster extractions, you may chose other utilities such as the CD DAE software. A typical ripping task of an audio CD finished at an average reading speed of 28.3X, using CD DAE:

Below we have added a transfer rate test with the same audio CD:

 

- 90 mins data disc

 

The 90min disc was fully readable but the test could not be completed with an error returned in the full access time test.

- 99 mins audio disc

Again, the 99min audioCD was readable, although the drive slowed down at around the 94min. All the tracks were playable.

- Summary

The reading process of all CD media was completed without read errors and at speeds that match the drive's specifications.


3. Reading of defected CDs

This series of tests checks the drive's ability to correct/conceal possible erroneous data after reading artificially scratched / defective audio discs.

Using a CD-R in best shape to do the DAE test is generally not a safe way to test the drive's error correction capabilities. If your drive would not read audio CDs error free from an error free disc, you would probably bring 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 CD like the ABEX discs from ALMEDIO can be used, that can be used to do a comparison between different drives. The ABEX test disc is actually an AudioCD that has artificial scratches and other physical disc error patterns on its surface.

Using a special software, we compare two audio files using FFT analysis. The first audio file has been extracted by a normal audio disc without physical error patterns on it . The second one is the result of the extraction of the ABEX test discs which hold the same audio tracks, but it also has specific defects on its surface. The similarity factor of the the two tracks unveils the error correction capabilities of the drive.

The differences between the two compared tracks are translated to a signal (noise) illustrated in the following graphs. Each graph tells a lot about the abilities of the drive. The quality of the optical system (and/or of the error correction capabilities of the firmware) is shown in at which time index the error start. The error hiding qualities are shown when the wedge gets bigger. For example, a drive that will start error correction quite early indicates either bad optics and error correction. However, if the corrected data (wedges) stay below -60 dB(A) , this means that the drive has sufficiently hidden these errors and they most probably be unaudible, especially if they are surrounded by loud music.

The X position of a grid line is always a start of a new minute position on the CD (in play time, up to 74 min). The Y axis shows the dB(A) value of the error in the extracted file. The 0 dB(A) baseline at the top is marked slightly different. So the graph shows a range of 6 dB(A) down to -120.0 dB(A). Each line represents 6 dB(A) of volume (6 dB(A) louder means that the sound is double as loud).

- ABEX TCD-721R

 

Errors total Num : 1141062
Errors (Loudness) Num: 56849 Avg: -73.5 dB(A) Max: -12.3 dB(A)
Error Muting Num: 3637 Avg: 1.0 Samples Max: 18 Samples
Skips Num: 0 Avg: 0.0 Samples Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result 76.5 points (out of 100.0 maximum )

The Samsung SH-B123L drive muted many faulty samples. The average value for the errors is not high , although some wedges are high (max -12.3 dB(A)). This means that some distortion (clicks, pops) could reach your speakers in the specific areas if you playback this file. No skips were reported, meaning that the sync was not lost forcing the drive to reposition again.

This is an average performance for the drive, compared to the results we have seen from other DVD and BD burners.

- ABEX TCD-726R

Errors total Num : 0
Errors (Loudness) Num : 0 Avg : -174 dB(A) Max : -174 dB(A)
Error Muting Num : 0 Avg : 0.0 Samples Max : 0 Samples
Skips Num :0 Avg : 0.0 Samples Max 0 Samples
Total Test Result 100 points (out of 100.0 maximum)

It seems that the defects on the surface of the specific disc were not enough to make the drive lose track. Both extracted files ("norma"l and "damaged") were almost similar, meaning that the drive is very capable of correcting any kind of errors caused by the specific defects (fingerprint, dots).

these errors.

- CD-Check Audio Test Disc

CD players have built-in D/A converters that turn the digital data on a CD into analog signal - what we hear as music. Ideally, all the digital data should be converted to the analog format. In reality, many factors cause digital data to be lost and sound reproduction to detoriate.

CD players handle this data loss using a sophisticated error correction system that allows them to recover it. However, when the data loss is greater than a system;s recovery ability, some of the signal is lost. It is then that the CD player uses compensation methods such as interpolation, data substitution or signal muting to make this loss as anaudible as possible. However, this results in altered and often distorted sound.

The level of sound distortion depends on the amount of data loss. Initially, music may sound brittle and there may be subtle problems with stereo imaging or dynamics. Over time, disc skipping, clicks, pops in the signal or audible signal muting may result. CD-CHECK contains a special signal (tone), designed for early detection of the most subtle forms of distortion. 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
Samsung SH-B123L 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5 4/5

As it was expected, the error hiding mechanism of the Samsung SH-B123L drive as well as the drive's tend to mute faulty samples resulted to a flawless reproduction of all the first four tracks of this test disc, and and a very good result in the 5th track (harder), which was correctly reproduced 4 times out of the 5 we tried in total.


4. DVD reading speeds

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-RAM

DVD Video Ripping

Ripping of a single layer DVD movie:

  Samsung SH-B123L
Average 8.145 KB/s (5.9x)
Maximum 11.504 KB/s (8.3x)

Summary

The Samsung SH-B123L is a fast drive for your DVD media. It can easily compete other DVD burners and BD ROM drives.


5. Reading of defected DVDs

In the following tests, we examine the DVD reading capabilities of the drive with scratched / defective DVD media (error correction). For the tests, we used Nero CDVDBenchmark and the ABEX series of DVD test discs by 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 reading process was completed successfully and the defects on the disc's surface did not slow down reading.

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.

 

 

No reading problems here.

- 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.

 

 

This time the drive could not read the disc and returned a read error (red dot on the graph).

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.

Both layers of the disc was read flawlessly.

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 drive returned a read error before the end of L0 of the 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.

Flawless reading here for both layers.

Summary

Overall, the DVD error correction mechanism of the Samsung drive is average. The drive had problems reading the scratched DVD Video disc (ABEX TDV-541) as well as the dual layer DVD-ROM (ABEX TDR-841).


6. BD reading - Page 1

Let's now see how the drive's compatibility with various Blu-ray discs. For this test we e used many BD-ROM and BD-R/RE discs burned at high speeds with the Pioneer BD-R203, the LiteOn iHBs112 and the Sony BWU-S300 BD burners. We remind you that the drive uses the 8x (CAV) speed for reading all the BD-R/RE and BD-ROM/BD-R DL discs, 6x for BD-RE DL/ BD Hybrid discs and finally 12x for BD-ROM SL discs.

Information about the discs and the BD burners we used for each test is provided right above the corresponding transfer rate (read) graph.

- BD-ROM SL (25GB, movie)

Disc BD-ROM SL 25GB (movie)
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

A typical reading of a BD-ROM SL disc. The Samsung SH-B123Ldrive finished the task in an average speed of 4.56X (6X CAV). The drive does not support 12X CAV reading for Blu-ray movie discs, but only with BD-ROM with data.

- BD-ROM DL (50GB, movie)

Disc BD-ROM DL 50GB (movie)
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

The supported 6X CAV reading with BD-ROM DL media (movie) was confirmed.

- Blu-ray Disc Movie

In order to perform our BD Movie Playback tests, we used the "Casino Royale" (BD DL ) movie.

The recommended specifications for BD Playback and Authoring are:

Our testing system consisted of the following:

Cyberlink's BD advisor utility is bundled with the drive. The utility is offering you a basic testing of your PC and returns information on whether it is ready to playback Blu-ray disc content. The utility will look at your CPU, graphics card (for hardware acceleration), system memory, operating system, graphics card driver, installed software player as well as your card's video connection type (analog, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort etc). In addition, it will notify you whether your system supports Blu-ray's Bonus View, BD Live, hardware dual-video decoding for H.264/ MPEG-2/VC-1 as well as your network connection. Suggestions as to how to upgrade your system if needed are also provided:

Once your system is qualified for BD play back, you are ready to start Cyberlink's Power DVD v9 software to watch your BD movie. But first, let's set the appropriate region code before starting playback:

Cyberlink's PowerDVD v9 software is also supporting the 'TrueTheater; video enhancing technology. The software allows you to watch standard-definition content in high-definition quality, enhance image details, naturalize colors and automatically adjust chroma and luminance using the 'TruTheater Lighting' slider, enable smoother video playback with frame-rate up-conversion technology (TrueTheater Motion) and also select among three different effects for your display:

Notice that you cannot enjoy nVidia's PureVideo hardware acceleration (if your Nvidia card supports it) and the TrueTheater effects at the same time.

Let's move on with the BD movie play back:

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.

- BD-R SL (25GB, data)

We continue to test the reading capabilities of the Samsung SH-B123L drive with various BD-R discs.

BD Burner Pioneer BD-R203 Ver.1.10
Disc Moser Baer India 25GB BD-R 6x - MBIR06 (000)
Speed recorded 8x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

The drive returned a read error with the specific disc. The error was reported right at the end of the data area.

BD Burner LiteOn iHBS112 Ver.CL04
Disc Moser Baer India 25GB BD-R 6x - MBIR06 (000)
Speed recorded 6x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

 

BD Burner Pioneer BD-R 203 Ver.1.10
Disc Verbatim 25GB BD-R 6x - VERBATIMe (000)
Speed recorded 8x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

 

BD Burner Sony BWU-300S Ver.1.06
Disc Verbatim 25GB BD-R 6x - VERBATIMe (000)
Speed recorded 6x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

As you can see in the above graph, the drive slowed down reading at around the 21GB mark, but no read error was reported.

BD Burner Pioneer BD-R 203 Ver.1.10
Disc Panasonic 25GB BD-R 6x - MEI (RA1)
Speed recorded 8x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

 

BD Burner Sony BWU-300S Ver.1.06
Disc Panasonic 25GB BD-R 6x - MEI (RA1)
Speed recorded 8x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

 

BD Burner LiteOn iHBS112 Ver.CL04
Disc Panasonic 25GB BD-R 6x - MEI (RA1)
Speed recorded 12x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

 

 

BD Burner Pioneer BD-R 203 Ver.1.10
Disc TDK 25GB BD-R 4x - TDKBLDRBB (000)
Speed recorded 8x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

 

BD Burner Pioneer BD-R 203 Ver.1.10
Disc Verbatim BD-R 25GB 4x - VERBATIMc (000)
BSpeed recorded 8x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

 

BD Burner Pioneer BD-R 203 Ver.1.10
Disc TDK 25GB BD-R 6x - TDKBLDRBD (000)
Speed recorded 8x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

 

BD Burner Sony BWU-300S Ver.1.06
Disc Verbatim 25GB BD-R LTH 2x - VERBATIMw (000)
Speed recorded 2x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

BD-R SL (7.5GB, data)

BD Burner Pioneer BD-R 203 Ver.1.10
Disc Verbatim 7.5GB 8cm BD-R 2x - VERBATIMa (000)
Speed recorded 2x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

 

BD Burner LiteOn iHBS112 Ver.CL04
Disc Verbatim 7.5GB 8cm BD-R 2x - VERBATIMa (000)
Speed recorded 2x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

 

Summary

The drive read almost the BD-ROM and BD-R discs of this test. Some problems were identified with the Verbatim 25GB BD-R 6x - VERBATIMe (000) burned at 6x with the Sony BWU-300S Ver.1.06 BD burner as well as with the Moser Baer India 25GB BD-R 6x - MBIR06 (000) burned at 8x with the Pioneer BD-R203 Ver.1.10 drive. These issues should be more attributed to the writing quality of these discs.

No problems were identified with the Verbatim LTH BD-R discs.

Playback of a Blu-ray disc movie was great and the drive was responsive to any navigation and FF/RW test we did while playing the movie.


7. BD reading - Page 2

We continue our BD reading tests with some BD-R DL and BD-RE DL discs.

- BD-R DL (50GB, data)

BD Burner Pioneer BD-R 203 Ver.1.10
Disc Panasonic 50GB BD-R DL 6x - MEIRB1(001)
Speed recorded 8x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

Although the specific disc was fully readable, the software could not finish the access time test and returned an error in the "Full access" test.

BD Burner LiteOn iHBS112 Ver.CL04
Disc Panasonic 50GB BD-R DL 6x - MEIRB1(001)
Speed recorded 4x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

 

BD Burner LiteOn iHBS112 Ver.CL04
Disc Panasonic 50GB BD-R DL 6x - MEIRB1(001)
Speed recorded 8x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

The Panasonic 50GB BD-R DL 6x - MEIRB1(001) disc could not be read and the drive returned a read error. The specific disc had been recorded with a LiteOn iHBS112 BD VerCL04 burner at 8x.

 

BD Burner Pioneer BD-R 203 Ver.1.10
Disc TDK 50GB BD-R DL 6x - TDKBLDRFD (000)
Speed recorded 8x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

Again, the reading graph was not smooth and the drive had some problems reading specific areas on both L0 and L1 layers. Though these fluctuations on the reading speed are symmetrical, we could assume that a local physical defect on the discs's surface on the specific spot could have made the drive slow down reading in both layers. However, a reading problem is also identified in the beginning of L1 of the disc.

BD Burner LiteOn iHBS112 Ver.CL04
Disc TDK 50GB BD-R DL 4x - TDKBLDRFB (000)
Speed recorded 4x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

 

BD Burner LiteOn iHBS112 Ver.CL04
Disc Verbatim 50GB BD-R 2x - VERBATIMb (000)
Speed recorded 2x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

 

BD Burner Pioneer BD-R 203 Ver.1.10
Disc Verbatim 50GB BD-R 2x - VERBATIMb (000)
Speed recorded 2x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

- BD-RE SL (25GB, data)

BD Burner LiteOn iHBS112 Ver.CL04
Disc Verbatim BD-RE 25GB 2x - VERBATIM0 (000)
Speed recorded 2x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

 

BD Burner Pioneer BD-R 203 Ver.1.10
Disc Verbatim BD-RE 25GB 2x - VERBATIM0 (000)
Speed recorded 2x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

 

BD Burner Sony BWU-300S Ver.1.06
Disc TDK 25GB BD-RE 2x - TDKBLDWBA (000)
Speed recorded 2x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

 

- BD-RE SL (7.5GB, data)

BD Burner LiteOn iHBS112 Ver.CL04
Disc Verbatim 7.5GB BD-RE 8cm 2x - VERBATIM0 (000)
Speed recorded 2x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

 

BD-RE DL (50GB, data)

BD Burner LiteOn iHBS112 Ver.CL04
Disc TDK 50GB BD-RE 2x - TDKBLDWFa (000)
Speed recorded 2x
BD reader Samsung SH-B123L ver.SB01

Summary

According to the reading tests, the Samsung SH-B123L drive had problems reading some BD-R DL discs burned at speeds higher than 4x. We had a read error with the Panasonic 50GB BD-R DL 6x - MEIRB1(001) disc burned with the LiteOn iHBS112 Ver.CL04 BD burner at 8x, some reading issues with the TDK 50GB BD-R DL 6x - TDKBLDRFD (000) disc burned with the Pioneer BD-R 203 Ver.1.10 at 8x.

The rest of the BD-R DL as well as the BD-RE SL and DL disc we used in the test were easily read.


8. CD/DVD testing platform - The IQB Omni CD DVD Analyser by Quantized

All CD/DVD writing quality tests are done using the IQB Omni CD DVD Analyser by Quantized. The IQB Omni from Quantized Systems is a physical disc analyser, covering all CD and DVD formats, designed to meet the Quality Control demands of the duplication and replication sectors.

Omni's features allows you to identify media quality issues and highlight drive performance and recording problems.

The system is based on a Philips CD/DVD drive. It supports the majority of the optical disc formats, including CD-ROM, CD-R/RW, CD-A
DVD-R/-RW, DVD-R DL, DVD+R/+RW, DVD+R DL, DVD-ROM 5 and DVD-ROM.

The platform can test the media for the following signals:

CD-R/CD-ROM/CD-A DVD+R/+RW DVD-R/-RW DVD-ROM
Reflectivity R-I14H R-I14H R-I14H
Jitter Modulation Modulation Modulation
I11/ITop Jitter Jitter Jitter
Asymmetry/Beta PI Sum 8 PI Sum 8 PI SUm 8
BLER PI Unc PI Unc PI Unc
E11 to E32 Error Statistics POF POF POF
Burst Errors Beta Beta Asymmetry
  ADER   EDC
  ADER Unc    

Test speeds for CD media are set at 16X and for DVD media at 4X.

The equipment is capable of providing mesasurments on the complete data area or at specific positions defined by the user (Quick Test mode). This zone testing procedure allows multiple areas of the disc to be tested in a single operation.

All numerical and graphical data are stored in a database. Data can be recalled with user defined criteria to create sets of related key results. Data can also be imported into most common software packages - MS Excel etc.

For more information on the Quantized IQB Omni Analyser, visit http://www.quantized.com.

In the following pages, we present the writing quality measurements of various CD and DVD recordable and rewritable media, burned with the Samsung SH-B123L BD combo drive.


9. CD-R burning - Taiyo Yuden 48x 80min

For this test (and for all ensuing tests with CD-R media), the CD-R disc was burned to its maximum capacity and at its maximum speed. Then, the same disc is read with the Disc Speed software, and the disc was scanned for digital errors (E31 and E32).

Taiyo Yuden 48x CD-R 80min

The CDSpeed utility does not correctly recognize the disc as you can see in the image below. The specific disc is not a CD-RW but it's a Taiyo Yuden CD-R 80min 48x.

- Writing 48X CAV

- Reading 40X CAV

 

- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

 

Click for large image

Some correctable (E31) digital errors were reported here, which seems to have been corrected at the second layer of error correction, resulting to zero E32 (uncorrectable) errors. Also, the Pit/Land jitter was a little bit increased.


10. CD-R burning - Verbatim 52x 74min

Verbatim 52x CD-R 74min

The CDSpeed utility does not correctly recognize the disc as you can see in the image below. The specific disc is not a CD-RW but it's a Verbatim CD-R 74min 52x.

- Writing 48X CAV

 

- Reading 40X CAV

The reading speed dropped in the end of the data area. That's an indication of a low writing quality there.

- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

Click For large image

It is obvious that the quality of the specific disc is low. Many errors were reported after the 49mm radius of the disc. Most importantly, the E32 count (C2 uncorrectable) reached the 360. It seems that the drive has not been optimized to use the popular Verbatim CD-Rs.


11. CD-RW burning - Verbatim 32x

Verbatim 32x CD-RW

For one more time, the CDSpeed utility does not correctly recognize the disc as you can see in the image below. The specific disc is not a CD-R but it's a Verbatim CD-RW 80min 32x. The Samsung SH-B123L drive supports 24X Z-CLV writing for CD-RW. It's a little bit strange why Samsung kept the writing speed lower than the 32X, which is supported by most DVD burners and also matches the specs of Samsung 4X BD combo drive, the SH-B083L.

- Writing 24X Z-CLV

- Reading 40X CAV

- Quality

We measured the quality of the disc using Erik Deppe's Opti Drive Control software, since the Quantized iQB OMNI equipment does not support the CD-RW format:

The result seems to be good with no C2 (uncorrectable) errors reported.


12. DVD-R burning - CMC Magnetics 16x CMC MAG AM3

We start our DVD writing quality measurements with DVD-R media. A variety of different MIDs were selected and burned at the maximum allowed speed. In each of the following pages, you will find detailed information about each disc, the burning and reading procedure as well as the related signal measurements that construct the overall quality picture for each disc.

You can always navigate across to the different MIDs in this review, using the page navigation drop down menu.

- Media Info

Brand
CMC Magnetics
Media type
DVD-R SL 4.7GB 16x
MID
CMC MAG AM3

 

- Writing 16X CAV

 

- Reading 16X CAV

 

- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

Click for large image

The drive's first DVD-R burn was acceptable with no uncorrectable digital errors. The PISum8 error rate reached the upper acceptable limits in the end of the data area. Jitter also reached the 10.6 (the limit is 8) at the 57.6 mm radius of the disc.


13. DVD-R burning - Verbatim 16x MCC 03RG20

- Media Info

Brand
Verbatim
Media type
DVD-R SL 4.7GB 16x
MID
MCC 03RG20

 

- Writing 16X CAV

 

- Reading 16X CAV

The reading graph is not very smooth in some areas of the disc, meaning that the drive could not easily read the data there.

- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

Click Foe large image

This is good burn with all error rates within limits. PISum8 is rising towards the end of the data area but stays below the 280 limit.


14. DVD-R burning - Datawrite 16x TTH02

- Media Info

Brand
Datawrite
Media type
DVD-R SL 4.7GB 16x
MID
TTH02

 

 

- Writing 16X CAV

 

- Reading - 16X CAV

The drive had problems reading the disc and slowed down right after the 4.0 GB mark as you can see above.

 

- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

 

 

Click for large image

This was not a good burn, with the PISum8 error rate to reach the 442 (max). Although no POFs were reported, the high PISum8 affected the readability of the disc.


15. DVD-R burning - Taiyo Yuden TYG03

- Media Info

Brand
Taiyo Yuden
Media type
DVD-R SL 4.7GB
MID
TYG03

 

 

- Writing 16x CAV

 

- Reading 16X CAV

- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

Click for large view

This is a nice burn with the Taiyo Yuden DVD-R disc at 16X. PISum8 was increased in the end of the disc but it stayed within acceptable levels.


16. DVD-R DL burning - Verbatim 8x MKM 03RD30

- Media Info

Brand
Verbatim
Media type
DVD-R DL 8.5GB
MID
MKM 03RD30

 

 

- Writing 8X Z-CLV

We have updated the firmware of the drive to the latest available Ver. SB02 for the specific test. We did so since the latest firmware is optimized to offer a better writing quality with DVD R DL discs. Here are the results:

 

- Reading - 16X CAV

 

Despite the new firmware (SB02) there is still a problem with the data in the end of layer 0 and the beginning of layer 1. The drive managed to read the disc but it slowed down at the specific areas.

- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

Click for large image

PISum8 was high for the layer 1, and jitter was also high for both layers. POF was also reported in the end of L0. This is definitely a bad burn.


17. DVD-RW burning - Verbatim 6x MKM RW6X01

- Media Info

Brand
Verbatim
Media type
DVD-RW SL 4.7GB
MID
MKM RW6X01

 

- Writing 6x Z-CLV

 

- Reading 12X CAV

 

- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

High POF wedges appeared in the end of the disc, coupled by EDC failures.This could be attributed to a local defect of the disc, although we used a brand new one for this test. In addition, the PISum8 was high after the drive reached the 6x burning speed and towards the end of the data area.


18. DVD+R burning - Prodisc 16x PRODISC R04

- Media Info

Brand
Prodisc
Media type
DVD+R SL 4.7GB 16x
MID
PRODISC R04

 

- Writing 8X P-CAV

The drive did not burn the disc at the selected 16x speed and finished the writing task at 8x P-CAV.

- Reading - 16X CAV

- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

Click for large image

Here we have to do with a nice writing strategy with the specific disc. All the parameters remained with the acceptable limits except jitter, which marginally exceeded 9 in the end of the data area.


19. DVD+R burning - Philips 16x INFOME R30

- Media Info

Brand
Philips
Media type
DVD+R SL 4.7GB 16x
MID
INFOME R30

 

 

- Writing 16x CAV

- Reading - 16X CAV

The fluctuations on the transfer rate graph indicate a possible issue with the burned data at around 3.3~3.7GB mark.

- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

 

Click for large image

Although no POF were reported here, the PISum8 and the jitter rate were higher than the limits in the end of the data area.


20. DVD+R burning - Moser Baer India 16x MBIPG101R05

- Media Info

Brand
Moser Baer India
Media type
DVD+R SL 4.7GB 16x
MID
MBIPG101R05

 

- Writing 16X CAV

.

- Reading 16X CAV

 

- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

 

Click for large image

A relatively good burn here with the Moser Baer 16x DVD+R disc.


21. DVD+R burning - Taiyo Yuden 16x YUDEN T03

- Media Info

Brand
Taiyo Yuden
Media type
DVD+R SL 4.7GB 16x
MID
YUDEN T03

 

- Writing 16X CAV

 

- Reading - 16x CAV

 

- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

Click for large image

Again, we have another good burn here with no uncorrectable digital errors and low PISum8.


22. DVD+R DL burning - Verbatim 8x MKM 003

- Media Info

Brand
Verbatim
Media type
DVD+R DL 8.5GB 16x
MID
MKM 003

 

 

- Writing 8X Z-CLV

We have updated the firmware of the drive to the latest available Ver. SB02 for the specific test. We did so since the latest firmware is optimized to offer a better writing quality with DVD R DL discs. Here are the results:

 

- Reading 12X CAV

 

Unfortunately, the drive could not read the disc and returned a read error as it tried to shift from L0 to L1.

 

- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

Click for large image

As it was reported with the corresponding DVD-R DL disc, the drive seems to have problems creating quality burns with DVD+R DL media. This time the problems were reported in the beginning of L1, with uncorrectable errors (POF) to appear there.


23. DVD+RAM burning - Maxell 5x MXL16, MXL22 12x

DVD-RAM is a rewritable format supported by the DVD Forum. A DVD-RAM can be seen as a removable hard drive. However, as any other hard drive the DVD-RAM must be "prepared" (formatted) before the first use. A DVD-RAM disc must be formatted using the UDF (Universal Disk Format). Usually, a 4.7GB DVD-RAM should be formatted using the UDF 1.5 or the UDF 2.0 format.

In the tests below we showcase the maximum recording speeds supported by the drive with the specific DVD-RAM media. In case you are using your DVD-RAM discs as a removable hard drive through your Windows OS, you may experience slower burning. That because the DVD-RAM format features an automatic verification technology that results to safer but slower recordings.

Below you can see writing /reading tests with 5x and 12X DVD-RAM discs

- Media Info

Brand
Maxell
Media type
DVD-RAM 4.7GB 5x
MID
MXL16

 

- Writing 5X CLV

 

- Reading - 5X CLV

 

The Samsung drive burned and read the 5x DVD-RAM disc without any problems.

- Media Info

Brand
Maxell
Media type
DVD-RAM 4.7GB 12x
MID
MXL22

 

- Writing 12X P-CAV

The drive also burned the 12x DVD-RAM disc.

- Reading 12X P-CAV


24. DVD+RW burning - Verbatim 16x MKM A03

- Media Info

Brand
Verbatim
Media type
DVD+RW SL 4.7GB 16x
MID
MKM A03

 

- Writing 8X Z-CLV

 

- Reading 12X CAV

 

- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

 

Click for large image

Although jitter was high for the complete data area of the disc, no POF was reported and PISUm8 was very low.


25. Summary of CD and DVD quality, Bitsetting, overburning

In the following table, we have gathered the findings of the CD and DVD quality measurement tests. On the left side of the table (green tabs) you can find the discs that did not produce uncorrectable digital errors (POF), while on the right side (red tabs) there are all the discs that gave uncorrectable errors (E32 for CD or POF for DVD's):

Media type Digital errors within limits Uncorrectable errors /Jitter
CD-R Taiyo Yuden CD-R 48x certified (97m24s01f) burned at 48x Verbatim CD-R 52x 74min burned at 48x
CD-RW Verbatim CD-RW 32x 74min burned at 24x  
DVD-R
Verbatim DVD-R 16x certified (MCC 03RG20) burned at 16x / Jitter slightly increased Datawrite DVD-R 16x certified (TTH02) burned at 16x / PISum8 high, No POF, Jitter slightly increased
CMCMAG AM3 16x burned at 16x --- Jitter
Taiyo Yuden DVD-R 16x certified (TYG03) burned at 16X --- jitter slightly increased
DVD+R Prodisc DVD+R 16x certified (PRODISC R04) burned at 8x --- Jitter slightly increased Philips DVD+R 16x certified (INFOME R30) burned at 16x --- PISum8, No POF, Jitter
Taiyo Yuden DVD+R 16x certified (YUDEN000 T03) burned at 16X --- Jitter slightly increased  

Moser Baer India DVD+R 16x certified (MBIPG101R05) burned at 16x / jitter slightly increased

 
DVD+RW Verbatim DVD+RW 8x certified (MKM A03) burned at 8x -- Jitter increased  
DVD-R DL   Verbatim DVD-R DL 8x certified (MKM03RD30) burned at 8x / PISum8 high for L1, POF, Jitter increased for both layers
DVD+R DL   Verbatim DVD+R DL 8x certified (MKM 003) burned at 8x --- Pisum8 & POF for L1, jitter
DVD-RW   Verbatim DVD-RW 6x certified (MKM 01RW6X01) burned at 6x --- PISum8, POF, jitter

 

- Booktype Settings

 

The drive supports the bittsetting feature for DVD+R, DVD+RW and DVD+RW DL media.

- DVD Overburning

As you can see, the drive supports overburning of DVD recordable media and can burn up to 4489MB of data on a 4.38GB disc (actual capacity).


26. Samsung MagicSpeed, Live Update, LightScribe

Magic Speed

ODD products launched nowadays are providing a high reading speed. With the increased reading speed, faster data processing has become possible. However, high rotation speed often causes louder noise, and it is more possible to crash the cracked or bent discs. Against this backdrop, Samsung has developed a speed-down algorithm and applied this technology to newly-launched products to provide safer and more comfortable environments for PC users. The algorithm establishes a safer disc reading speed in operating the device in order to prevent possible disc crashes in using CDs with cracks in starting. In addition, for users who want to play CDs at its maximum speed, MAGIC SPEED program offers the function of selecting reading speed, so that users can set the speed as they want. (Recording speed will run at recordable speed without limit)

Samsung's MAGIC SPEED utility is included in the drive's DVD-ROM software disc.

The software supports user to select at his or her discretion the reading speed of CD disc between two modes offered by drive: Maximum Speed Mode (Max Mode) and Silent Mode. Here we should note that any mode set by Magic Speed will be reset to "Low noise mode" when the PC restarts, so check the current mode if you want to use "The maximum speed mode" and change the settings where necessary.

The utility can be downloaded at www.samsung-ODD.com.

Once installed it is accessible through the MAGIC SPEED tray icon. Select right-click to execute the program. Select the mode you want to use on Program Execution Window and select "settings". Then, reading speed of the drive will run in selected mode. Select "Close" to exit Program Execution Window. In this occasion, reading speed will be run in the set speed if there is no separate mode change or program exit.

LiveUpdate

The Samsung SH-B123L BD combo drive also supports the Firmware LiveUpdate. This is is a program that automatically upgrades the latest firmware version through the Internet.

Until now, when new firmware was released and posted on the manufacturers' website s managed by themselves , users had to visit the website to check if the firmware supports their models and download and install it on their own. Samsung Electronics has developed a system, which enables users firmware to be upgraded to the newest version automatically upon its release. But, to get this service, users have to install the Firmware LiveUpdate program on their computers and the computers should be connected to the Internet.

Basically, the model names and the firmware versions are recorded in all firmware of Samsung Electronics ODD products. Every time a user turns on a PC and Internet, the Firmware LiveUpdate program checks the latest firmware version by sending firmware information of the ODD model installed in users' PC to Samsung Electronics firmware database to determine if there is new firmware version has been released. If users' firmware is the latest version, the program is automatically closed (It takes less than one sec.), but if there is a new version, it will confirm user ' s intension, and then, automatically starts to upgrade. Times it takes will be different depending on Internet transmission speed. The size of the Samsung Electronics Firmware is generally less than 1MByte.

Once you start the Firmware LiveUpdate utility, you are prompted to enter some information about you:

The software can automatically searches the latest patch program and installs it.

Or open Samsung's ODD page where you can manually download the firmware for your drive.

LiveUpdate is set to search for a new firmware every time turning on a PC, but this function gives a choice that a users can set up the auto-execution schedule:


The Error Report" is a function that a user can send an error report when he or she has an error while using, Samsung ODD products.



LightScribe

Samsung SH-B123L supports the LightScribe disc labeling technology. LightScribe is technology that uses a special disc drive, special media, and label-making software to burn labels directly onto CDs and DVDs. Because the labels are laser-etched—not printed—there's no ink, no smudging, and no peeling.

You can create one-of-a-kind designs with your own photos, text, and artwork using your label-making software. Or choose from the many free backgrounds the software provides.

Once you create your design, be sure to follow these three steps:

How it works? The laser inside a CD/DVD disc drive with LightScribe technology focuses light energy onto a thin dye coating on the label side of the disc. The light from the laser causes a chemical change in the dye coating that shows up on the disc. With laser precision, the drive renders the text and images that you created for the label.

In order to use LightScribe, you must have a LightScribe-enabled disc drive such as the Samsung SH-B083L, install the LightScribe System Software (LSS), which is similar to a driver and it will automatically be installed once you install the Labeling application, which is CyberLink's labelPrint software in our case.

Let's start a typical disc labeling task using LighScribe. We open CyberLink's LabelPrint software and choose to create the "LighScribe" type of label:

You can use either LighScribe CD or DVD recordable media for your labels. We used a LightScribe CD-R by Memorex:

The next step is to add any text, image of background image on the layout. Then you are ready to edit the properties of the text, such as its alignment, size, font etc. The LabelPrint software is also offering some layout styles as well as background images for your labels. Of course, you are free to add any other image you like:

We are ready to begin labeling the LighScribe CD-R:

The software supports three labeling modes: Best, Normal and Draft. Each mode represents a different labeling quality:

Below you can see a preview of our label:

Generally, a full label on CD-R media would take you no more than 28 minutes, depending on the amount of text and the complexity of the images you have added to the label. Labelling on DVDs would take a couple of more minutes. Our label was ready in just 10 minutes.


27. Summary

The SH-B123L, Samsung's first 12x BD combo burner, could be considered as an upgrade to the company's previous 8x BD combo drive, the SH-B083L. Based on the same chipset, the drive offers the same reading speeds for CDs and DVDs. However, the BD reading speeds have been boosted to reach the 12x for BD-ROMs, 8x (CAV) speed for the BD-R/RE and BD-ROM/BD-R DL discs and 6x for BD-RE DL/ BD Hybrid discs. Let's summarize our findings.

First of all, the Samsung SH-B123L has the same front panel that was also met in the SH-B083L model. The black polished finish with the mirrored tray and the blue back-lit operation/eject button on the front will add some extra style to your PC or HPC case.

The drive proved to be a good CD reader, performing all the tests as we expected and matching its specifications. DAE tasks will be performed fast enough at approximately 28x (average) , while the CD error correction is adequate with the drive to sport increased error hiding capabilities. This means that the drive will do its best to read your old CDs and has many chances to play your scratched audioCDs without annoying clicks or skips.

Next on are DVD reading tests. The drive was fast again, reading all the DVD formats we tried including 12x DVD-RAM discs. However, the drive could not read some heavily scratched dual-layer DVD Video test discs.

The Sh-B123L is possibly the fastest BD drive among all those currently sold at the market, potentially reaching the 12x max speed BD-ROM discs. However, the 12x speed can only be achieved with data BD-ROMs such as as game discs or other BD-ROM discs. So don't expect to read your BD movie disc at 12x. In this case the speed will be 6x for both SL and DL movies. Your BD-R SL/DL and BD-RE SL discs will be also read pretty fast at 8X CAV. We were a little bit concerned about the compatibility of the drive when it comes to reading BD recordable and rewritable discs recorded by other BD burners. So we ran many reading tests with such discs. That the drive was very much compatible with BD-R SL and BD-RE SL /DL discs including BD-R LTH, but it had problems reading (read errors) specific BD-R DL discs that had been recorded at speeds higher than 4x. This does not mean that the drive will not read your BD-R DLs discs. It seems that it is just a little bit picky with BD-R DLs have been burned at high speeds and as such, their "writing quality" may have been affected.

Moving on, the SH-B123L will playback your BD-ROM and BD-R/RE disc smoothly enough for a great HD viewing experience using the CyberLink's PowerDVD software bundled with the package. CyberLink's PowerDVD is also supporting the 'TrueTheater' image enhancing technology, which will make your DVD videos look greater using up-scalling agorithms.The drive was also responsive to any navigation and FF/RW test we did while playing the movie.

Of course, the Samsung SH-B123L is able to burn CDs and DVDs. According to our tests, the drive can reliably burn on CD-Rs and DVD R discs. Of course, we identified specific cases where some CD and DVD recordables gave low writing quality results. These issues can be addressed with firmware tunings. On the other hand, the writing quality of DVD-R/+R DL discs was disappointing. We run the DVD-R/+R DL burning tests with the latest SB02 firmware installed, which is supposed to correct the DVD R DL issues. However, the results showed that the drive cannot reliably burn DVD-R/+R DL discs. It seems that problem has been "inherited" by Samsung's previous BD combo drive, the SH-B183L, which had also problems with DVD R DL discs. Let's hope that Samsung will also look at the issue more carefully.

The SH-B123L can be purchased online for less than €90, which is a reasonable price for a BD combo drive. It's impressive specs give a great potential and some firmware tunings could help the drive become a great performer.

Positive

Negative



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