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This story was printed from CdrInfo.com,
located at http://www.cdrinfo.com.
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Appeared on: Friday, July 30, 2004
LG GSA-4120B


1. Introduction - Specs

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 1

is one of the biggest players in the optical storage indrustry. LG has the biggest market share in many countries and usually, its burners are well tuned and with unique features. In Novemeber 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

From 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..."

The competition is already tough, with Plextor, LiteON and Optorite having released their 12X DVD+R burning solutions, but none of these drives support DVD+R DL and DVD-RAM burning. From that point of view, the LG GSA-4120B is a winner, or is it? How well will the LG drive perform in our usual tests? Let's find out...

- Official press release

HLDS announced the drive on 18th May 2004 and according to the press release:

"...Tokyo, May 18, 2004 ---Hitachi-LG Data Storage, Inc. (CEO: Kazuya Hori) has developed GSA-4120B, the world's first Super Multi drive with 5x DVD-RAM. The Super Multi drive supports not only
DVD-RAM but all writable DVDs. The shipment is scheduled to start in June, 2004.

GSA-4120B is the successor to the conventional Super Multi drive, the GSA-4082B. This is the first time in the world that DVD-RAM can be written at 5x. What's more, the GSA-4120B is capable of writing +R at the industry's top level speed of 12x, and is also compatible with +R double layer discs. It reads and writes CD-R and CD-RW, and reads DVD-ROM and CD-ROM as well, which makes this drive compatible with a total of 9 types of discs.

The GSA-4120B is a built-in type Super Multi drive that can read/write all types of DVDs and CDs. Not only does it write DVD-RAM at the world's fastest speed of 5x, it also write +R at 12x, DVD-R at 8x, DVD-RW and +RW at 4x, all of which are the industry's highest speeds. Unquestionably, this drive has the most up-to-date functions, such as CPRM which is becoming a hot topic in Japan due to the start of digital TV broadcasting, multi-boarder and quick format used with DVD-R/RW, and the multi-session and the background format used with +R/RW.

By increasing the speed of writing DVDs, this drive succeeded in shortening the time used for making DVDs, and in speeding up data backup processes. Moreover, by supporting 5 types of writable DVD formats, it is also the best choice for users who use DVD recorders which have grown popular nowadays. Furthermore, this drive succeeded in increasing the writing speed of CD-R substantially, with the write speed of 40x max.

The GSA-4120B was developed in collaboration with related companies, by gathering all of the companies latest technologies for overall development from key components to the product itself. It inherits from its predecessor, the conventional technologies for stable writing such as the built-in LD driver with highly reliable write strategy and the buffer-under-run prevention function. In addition, as with its predecessor, it boasts a compact design which is convenient for installations in all PC form factors..."

The key technologies developed in order to realize this product are as follows.

- Features

The LG GSA-4120B supports 12X DVD+R, 8X DVD-R, 4X DVD±RW, 5X DVD-RAM and 2.4X DVD+R DL writing according to the official specifications. As a CD recorder it supports 40X CD-R and 24X US-RW writing along with 40X CD-ROM reading.

Below are the full specs for the drive:

Drive
LG GSA-4120B
Media
DVD
CD
Transfer Rate Read
16X DVD-ROM
40X CD-ROM
10X DVD±R
8X DVD±RW
40X CD-RW
2X, 3X (CLV), 5X (Z-CLV) DVD-RAM
2.4X DVD+R9
Transfer Rate Write
12X DVD+R Z-CLV
40X CD-R Z-CLV
8X DVD-R Z-CLV
4X DVD±RW CLV
24X CD-RW Z-CLV
5X DVD-RAM Z-CLV
2.4X DVD+R9 CLV
Access Time
145ms
125ms
Mechanism
motorized Tray load mechanism for horizonal and vertical use
Interface
IDE / ATAPI
Burst Transfer Rate
PIO mode 4 / Ultra DMA 33
Cashe Memory
2MB
Audio
headphone jack and volume control at front plus digital-out and line-out at the back (MPC compatible)
Media/Modes supported
DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-Video, DVD-RAM, CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, CD-Audio, CD Extra, CD Text, CD-IReady, CD-Bridge, Photo-CD, VideoCD, Hybrid CD
Writing methods
DAO(disc at once), SAO(session at once), TAO(track at once) with zero gap, variable or fixed packet, multisession
Weight
0.9kgr
Dimensions
146(W) 184.7(D) 41.3(H) mm (without bezel)

The drive does not support Mount Rainier, as is the case with almost all new DVD recorders for either the CD or DVD formats. It uses the well known RPC II region control, allowing a user to change the drive's region at most 5 times. The region free lock can be overcome however with un-official firmware.

Below are the drive's main specs as given by NeroInfoTool and DVDInfoPro:

- The drive

We received the bulk version of the LG GSA-4120B - we would like to thank OMP Europe for providing us with the sample unit - which included burning software from Ahead (Nero Express and InCD) and CyberLink (PowerDVD, Power Producer Gold) along with a second disc, the owner's manual and warranty card.

The front of the drive is rather typical of LG drives, including the "Super Multi", "DVD+RW", "US-RW" and "DVD Multi Recorder" logos. There is no DVD+R DL format logo... On the rear panel you will find the analogue and digital audio outputs (SPDIF), the IDE selection pins, 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. Click on the photos for an enlarged view.

Click To Enlarge!

The main chipset seems to come from TDK and its part number id is: R8J32005FP

- Installation

The device was connected in our test PC and was identified as "HL-DT-ST DVDRAM GSA-4120B" under WinXP.

The drive arrived with vA101 firmware revision, meanwhile LG had released a newer firmware revision (A102) that was used to perform all the reading/writing tests.

In this review, we will be comparing the drive with the LiteON SOHW-1213S, Plextor PX-712A and Optorite DD1203 since all drives have similar specifications. A rather interesting roundup for all who wish to buy the fastest currently available DVD burner...

- Testing software

In order to perform our tests we used:

  1. Nero CD-DVD Speed v3.12
  2. CDVD Benchmark v1.21
  3. ExactAudioCopy v0.9 beta5
  4. Nero Info Tool v2.24
  5. KProbe v2.2.2 (Reader: LiteOn LDW-811S firmware vHS0Q, LiteOn SOHD-167T firmware 9S14 Reading speed 8X CAV)
  6. PlexTools v2.15 (Reader: Plextor PX-712A firmware v1.03, Reading speed 8X CLV for CD-R)
  7. DVDInfoPro v2.54
  8. Nero Burning Rom v6.3.1.17
  9. DVD Decrypter 3.2.2.0
  10. CopyToDVD 3.0.22

2. Transfer Rate Reading Tests

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 2

Transfer Rate Reading Tests

- CD Format

The comparison between the drives is not "fair" since the Plextor/LiteON drives support 48X reading speed, while the LG and Optorite support 40X. The LG drive is faster than the Optorite as the test results showed.

- DVD Format

The LG drive is quite fast. The specs mention that the drive is able to reach 16X with SL media, however it slowed down its reading speed at the end of the Abex 820 disc, resulting in an average reading speed of 10.99X. The Plextor PX-712A is the fastest drive with 16.18X end speed.

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 the outer range for each layer. The LG drive came third as it ony supports reading up to 8X.

click to enlarge!

The graph shown above indicates the reading performance of the ND-2510 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 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 toward the inner part of the disc. The average reading speed was 6.13X.

The LG drive performed according to its specifications, with 10X CAV for DVD±R and 8X CAV DVD±RW.

The LG drive performed quite well at 8127Kb/s, however the competition is somewhat faster...

- DVD-RAM

The LG GSA-4120B can read DVD-RAM depending at the version of the inserted media. For example it reads 3X DVD-RAM (v2.1) media at 3X CLV, while 5X DVD-RAM (v2.2) at 3~5 P-CAV, as the following Nero CD Speed graphs showing:

3X DVD-RAM

Click To Enlarge!

5X DVD-RAM

Click To Enlarge!

-Appendix

Nero CD-DVD Speed Graphs


3. CD Error Correction Tests

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 3

CD Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we check the drive's behavior when reading scratched / defective audio discs. The test discs used were the ABEX series from ALMEDIO.

- ABEX TCD-721R

Errors total
Num: 2347561
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 116405
Avg: -75.9 dB(A)
Max: -25.3 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 6999
Avg: 1.2 Samples
Max: 582 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0.0 Samples
Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result
75.0 points (out of 100.0 maximum)
C2 Accuracy
99.6 %

The performance with this disc is not very good. The total error count was high, as was the maximum level of the loudness errors reported at -25.3dB, meaning the error would be audible with the human ear. The big problem is that the drive doesnt slow down its ripping speed, which is why we get such high error rates... A test result score of 75 points is not good, while the C2% accuracy score seems high enough at 99.6%.

- ABEX TCD-726

Errors total
Num: 36554
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 116405
Avg: -84.7 dB(A)
Max: -47.6 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 5019
Avg: 1.0 Samples
Max: 2 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0.0 Samples
Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result
82.0 points (out of 100.0 maximum)
C2 Accuracy
100 %

The Abex TCD-726 test disc is much easier for drives in general to read. However, again the LG GSA-4120B didn't perform as well as we would have expected. The drive recorded a high error count and a test result score of 82.0 points. The errors here are not noticable with the naked ear, and if the drive lowered its reading speed while extracting the tracks, things would be much better. Again, the C2 accuracy is high with 100% (perfect).

- 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 being 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 GSA-4120B
5/5
5/5
3/5
0/5
0/5

The drive successfully passed only the first two out of the five check levels for this test. This is a rather poor performance. Usually, all drives have difficulties reading the 5th level, and a good drive can read 4th level. But most drives will pass the third level without any problem.

- Summary

CD error correction of the drive is just on average and should be improved by LG.


4. DVD Error Correction Tests

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 4

DVD Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we examined the DVD reading capabilities of the drive 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 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 drive can read DVD media up to 10X. The scratched area did not affect the reading process. The LG drive showed very good behaviour with this disc, and no errors were produced.

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 defective areas of dimensions ranging from 0.5 to 1.1 mm.

There are also fingerprints sized between 65 and 75 micrometers.

Again, the drive didn't have problems reading this test disc. We can see that the line is continuous, a little dense but the defects did not produce any anomalies.

- 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.

.

As seen above, once again the drive did not encounter any problems reading this test disc.

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.

As is evident from the screenshot above, the drive lowered its reading speed when it entered the area where the test disc includes the scratch. Despite this, the drive finished its reading process without any problems.

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.

Click to enlarge!

No problems here for the drive, a perfect curve with good performance.


5. Protected Disc Tests

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 5

Protected Disc Tests

- Reading Tests

To create the image of the various protected titles to the hard disk, we used 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
Duration
Reading speed
PSX "NBA Jam Extreme"
Lybcrypt
01:31 min
993.02 sectors/sec
Serious Sam The Second Encounter v1.07
SafeDisc v.2.60.052
5:12 min
1075.04 sectors/sec
VRally II
SecuROM v.2
2:40 min
2148.54 sectors/sec

The LG drive performed well with two second places and a first.

- Writing Tests

The drive supports the DAO-RAW writing mode. For checking the drive's EFM correction status, we used 5 different game titles with different SafeDisc 2 versions having the latest software patches installed. After copying the images of the various titles onto the hard disk, we burned them (maximum speed) with Alcohol 120% v1.9.2.1705. Two different discs were created for each title; one with the "Bypass EFM error" enabled and one more with the function disabled.

The table below shows the results of the attempted backups and whether they worked (game installed / played normally), or not.

Drive

Fifa 2004
SD v3.1

Sims Superstar SD v2.9
Sims Unleashed SD v2.8
Serious Sam-Second Encounter
SD v2.51.051
Max Payne
SD v2.51.020
EFM OFF
EFM ON
EFM OFF
EFM ON
EFM OFF
EFM ON
EFM OFF
EFM ON
EFM OFF
EFM ON
Toshiba
SD-M1502
No
Yes
Creative CD5233E

GSA-4120B

The LG GSA-4120B can backup accurately only up to SD v2.8, while it fails to backup SD2.9 and the newest 3.1 without EFM correction on.


6. DAE Tests

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 6

DAE Tests

- Pressed and CDR AudioCD results

The drive supports up to 40X CAV DAE speed. The following results were reported when using Exact Audio Copy.

The LG GSA-4120B came in second for either Pressed or CD-R media, with the Plextor PX-712A fastest. As EAC reports, the drive can report C2 errors, but caching is not supported.

- Advanced DAE Quality

All tested drives rceived a perfect quality score of 100. The LG drive can read Leadin data but not Leadout, and can read CD Text and Subchannel data. The reported average speed was 28.86X.

- Ripping 90mins AudioCDs

Click to enlatge!

The drive can read/rip flawlessly 90min Audio CDs.

- Ripping 99mins AudioCDs

The drive can read/rip flawlessly 99min Audio CDs, despite the momentary speed drop near the end of the disc.


7. Protected AudioCDs

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 7

Protected AudioCDs

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

The sample protected Audio discs were:

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

The tested tasks are:

The LG drive recognized up to the 12th Audio track of CDS200 disc,

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

The test results are shown in the following table:

Key2Audio
CDS200
GSA-4120B
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 not the same for all tracks

With Key2Audio discs, EAC didn't report any timing problems and at the same time, Read&Test CRC check comparison was the same for corresponding tracks. The drive could not rip 100% accurately the CD200 disc where Read&Test CRC check comparison was not the same for corresponding tracks.

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 with specific chipset weaknesses.

We ripped the disc contents with EAC and burned the wav file produced from the Cactus Data Shield 200.0.4 - 3.0 build 16a disc with the latest Nero version as AudioCD+CD-Text. The burned media was checked for C1/C2 errors and for BETA/Jitter errors with PlexTools software using Plextor PX-712SA (firmware v1.03) and LiteOn LDW-811S (firmware vHS0Q).

CDS 200.0.4 - 3.0 build 16a
GSA-4120B
Reading/Writing performed without any errors

The C1/C2 error graphs show that the drive did not manage to produce a 100% error free disc.

We then tried to extract all wav files with the Plextor PX-712SA and PlexTool DAE Error Correction 5th Level enabled:

No reading errors were reported after extracting all files. The C2 errors as reported from Plextools could be due to the writing quality of the drive, since the disc was burned at the maximum speed.


8. CD Recording Tests

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 8

CD Recording Tests

- CD-R Format

The drive supports 4X, 8X, 16X (CLV), 24X, 32X and 40X (Zone-CLV) writing speeds.

According to Nero CDSpeed, the drive reached the maximum 40X speed after 3.09 mins. The test started at 16X and finished at 42.71X having an average speed of 31.83X.

Click To Enlarge!

- CD-R Recording Times

We created an 80min data compilation with Nero Burning Rom and recorded it on a 700MB disc. The writing performance varies according to the inserted media. Below is a chart demonstrating all recording times with various media. The best recording time came with Verbatim/BenQ media at 3:19 mins.

Below is another graph that displays the recording times for the same project with all four drives used for comparison. The LG drive was in last place with 199 secs, while the LiteON SOHW-1213S was in first place with 163secs.

- Other features

The LG GSA-4120B supports overburning, writing up to 95mins and can read/write CD-Text.

- CD-RW Format

The drive supports both HS-RW and US-RW formats. With US-RW media 16X (CLV) and 24X (Z-CLV) writing speeds are available. Below you can see the Nero CD-DVD Speed writing simulation test with blank 24x US-RW media from Mitsubishi Chemicals.

Click To Enlarge!

We also used Nero Burning Rom in order to burn a 24X US-RW data disc from MC. The data compilation we burned had a size of 651 MB and the duration of the recording process was 3:45 minutes.

- CD-RW Mount Rainier

The drive doesn't support the Mount Rainier feature.


9. Writing Quality Tests - 3T Jitter Tests

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 9

Writing Quality Tests - 3T Jitter Tests

On this page, we present the 3T Pit & Land Jitter graphs when using various media burned at 40X CAV writing speed.

- 3T Pit results

Generally, the drive performed well but with selected media. Best results were achieved with Verbatim 52X CD-R media. With TraxData 52X, the results were very bad, the disc reached very high 3T Pit/Land values.

Below are the average 3T Pit Jitter for the various media:

- 3T Land results

The average 3T Land results are high, with the best results with the Verbatim media.


10. Writing Quality Tests - C1 / C2 Error Measurements

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 10

Writing Quality Tests - C1 / C2 Error Measurements

We measured the C1 / C2 error rate on the recorded discs we burned at the various supported writing speeds. The software we used was PleXTools Professional v2.15, and particularly the built-in Q-Check utility. The reader was the Plextor PX-712SA (firmware v1.03).

BenQ 80min 52X @ 40X

Maxell 80min 48X @ 40X

Taiyo Yuden 80min 52X @ 40X

TraxData 80min 52X @ 40X

Verbatim 80min 52X @ 40X

Waitec 80min 52X @ 40X

- Summary

The C1/C2 graphs show that the LG drive will perform well with some and very badly with other media. As we have seen before, the best writing times come with Verbatim and BenQ media, while the best recording performance with Taiyo Yuden media. With TraxData and Maxell media, we noticed high C2 and even CU errors. LG should address and fix this.

- Appendix

Media Label
ID Code
Manufacturer Name
Lead Out TIme
BenQ 52X
97m22s67f
Daxon.
79m59s74f
Maxell 48X
97m15s17f
Ritek Co.
79m59s70f
TY 80min 48X
97m24s 1f
Taiyo Yuden
79m59s72f
TraxData 80min 52X
97m15s17f
Ritek
79m59s70f
Verbatim 52X
97m34s23f
Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation
79m59s73f
Waitec 80min 52X
97m28s26f
Multi Media Masters & Machinery SA
79m59s74f

11. DVD Recording Tests

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 11

DVD Recording Tests

- Writing Performance

The LG GSA-4120B supports DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW and DVD-RAM writing. The maximum supported speeds are 12X Z-CLV for DVD+R, 8X Z-CLV for DVD-R, 4X CLV for DVD±RW, 2.4X CLV for DVD+R9 and 5X Z-CLV for DVD-RAM media.

Nero Burning Rom reported speeds, are shown below, after inserting a DVD+R media.

Note that when the software identifies a disc as 8X, the 2X writing speed option is not available. However, if the maximum speed is 4X, 2X writing speed is available...

By using Nero CD-DVD Speed with DVD-R and DVD+R media, we are able to see the 12X/8X Z-CLV recording technology being applied by the recorder.

Click to enlarge!

Click to enlarge!

The drive's uses three zones to reach the 12X writing speed (6X->8X->12X). At 12X the average writing speed is 9.87X, while at 8X Z-CLV, 7.82X.

- Supported media list

LG officially, doesn't list the supported media list either at 8X or 12X. The user has to insert a disc to check the maximum reported recording speed for the specific media, so its a test and see procedure. Depending on the inserted disc, the drive may lower its recording speed.

From our experience with A102 firmware, the supported media list is very strict, with almost no 4X media being allowed to burn at 8X for either of the DVD±R formats.

Other manufacturers (BenQ/Plextor) allow media "overspeed", offering users the ability to burn 4X media at 8X, if the produced disc comes within the Red book specs. LiteON users can easily enable overspeed with un-official utilities.

- Burning Tests

We burned 4315MB of data on various DVD±R, DVD±RW media. We used the maximum allowed writing speed for each disc.

Disc Label
Disc Information
Max Allowed Writing Speed
Total Recording Time (mins)
3A 8X
POMS3A
4X
14:26(1)
BenQ 4X
SONY04D1
14:24
CMC Magnetics 8X
CMC MAG AE1
14:22(2)
Mam 4X
MAM4XG02
14:21
Maxell 4X
TYG01
14:21
Maxell 4X
MXL RG02
14:21
Maxell 8X
MXL RG03
8X
7:48
MCC 4X
MCC 01RG20
4X
14:21
MMore 4X
MBI 01RG20
14:22
Optodisc 4X
OPTODISCR004
14:26
Princo 4X
PRINCO
14:25
SKC 4X
SKC
14:25
Ritek G04
RITEKG04
14:22
TraxData 8X
RITEKG05
14:23
Taiyo Yuden 4X
TYG01
14:22
Taiyo Yuden 8X
TYG02
8X
7:46
Verbatim 8X
MCC 02RG20
7:51
MKM 4X RW
MCC 01RW4X
4X
14:26

Notes:

(1) With A102 firmware, the drive refused to burn the disc (write error in lead-in area). After using an unofficial firmware (N0AD) the disc burned without any problems at 4X.

(2) The drive allowed 8X burning speed with CMC Magnetics 8X DVD-R media. However, it didn't manage to burn it, due to write errors in the lead-in area. Reducing the speed to 4X solves this problem. With unofficial firmware (N0AD) the disc can burn up to 8X without any problems.

Disc Label
Disc Information
Max Allowed Writing Speed
Total Recording Time (mins)
3A 4X
POMSC001002
4X
14:10
3A 8X
Plasmon1C01
14:12
BenQ 4X
DAXONAZ1
14:08
BenQ 8X
DAXONAZ2
14:08
CMC Magnetics 8X
CMC MAG E01
8X
7:73
Intenso 8X
PRODISCR03
7:51
Maxell 4X
YUDEN000T01
4X
14:09
Maxell 8X
MAXELL002
12X
6:51
MKM 8X
MMC003(1)
6:51
MKM 4X
MCC002
4X
14:25
MMore 4X
MBIPG101R03
14:09
Optodisc 4X
OPTODISCOR4
14:10
Optodisc 8X
OPTODISCOR8
14:07
Philips 8X
PHILIPSC08
14:08
Philips 16X
PHILIPSC16
14:09
Promedia 8X
AML002
14:09
Ricoh 8X
RICOHJPNR02
12X
6:59
SKC 4X
BeALL000P40
4X
14:10
TraxData 4X
RICOHJPNR01
4X
14:09
TraxData 8X
RITEKR03
8X
7:50
Taiyo Yuden 4X
YUDEN000T01
4X
14:09
Taiyo Yuden 8X
YUDEN000T02
12X
6:58(3)
Verbatim 4X
MCC002(2)
4X
Write Error at Lead-In
Verbatim 8X
MCC003(1)
8X
7:52
Optodisc 4X RW
OPTODISCOP4
14:53
Maxell 4X RW
PHILIPS041
14:53

Notes:

1) As we have found, there are currently two types of Verbatim 8X +R media on the market. The "old" type can burn up to 8X with the LG drive, while the "new" type up to 12X! The two media have identical ID codes and revisions but according to DVDInfoPro, there are some differences, elsewhere:

Verbatim 8X
00000000 08 02 00 00 A1 0F 02 00 00 03 00 00 00 26 05 3F .............&.?
00000010 00 00 00 00 00 00 03 4D 43 43 00 00 00 00 00 30 .......MCC.....0
00000020 30 33 00 38 23 54 37 15 02 52 6C 02 B4 63 15 15 03.8#T7..Rl..c..
00000030 0B 0A 08 08 01 19 1B 0C 0C 0C 0D 01 00 00 00 00 ................

MKM 8X
00000000 08 02 00 00 A1 0F 02 00 00 03 00 00 00 26 05 3F .............&.?
00000010 00 00 00 00 00 00 03 4D 43 43 00 00 00 00 00 30 .......MCC.....0
00000020 30 33 00 38 23 54 37 12 02 42 6E 02 A8 6B 15 15 03.8#T7..Bn..k..
00000030 0B 0B 08 08 01 19 1B 0C 0C 0C 0D 01 00 00 00 00 ................

There is a relative thread at our forums where you can find more information on how to recognize each media type before buying...:-)

2) With Verbatim's 4X DVD+R brand media, the drive couldn't burn the disc due to write errors. By using MKM 4X+R media, we didn't had any problem. We inspected the Verbatim media and didn't found any visual scratches/problems that could justify this problem.

3) Our first attempt to burn TY media at 12X wasn't very successful, since the drive reported focus or tracking errors at 93%. When we tried burning a second disc, we didn't have any problems.

Below are two screenshots from Nero, burning our usual project at various speeds

MKM 8X +R @ 12X

TraxData 8X +R @ 8X

- Comparison with other drives

Its clearly noticable that the Plextor PX-712A is, at present, the fastest 12X +R burner thanks to its P-CAV writing strategy. The Optorite comes second (again with 12X P-CAV), while the LG drive third with Z-CLV implementation.

Things seem to change with the DVD-R format since the LG drive had the best recording time at 466 secs!

With DVD re-writable media, the fastest burner was the LiteON, while LG gets second place, and third place with DVD+R/-RW.

- DVD Overburning Tests

Using Nero CD-DVD Speed , we tested if the drive can overburn using DVD+R and DVD-R media. Unfortunately, the drive does not support overburning, giving the following error with all inserted media.

- DVD+MRW Tests

The drive doesn't support the Mount Rainier feature.


12. KProbe/PlexTools Scans - Page 1

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 12

KProbe/PlexTools Scans - Page 1

In the following screenshots you can see the PI/PIF scans for the DVD-R media we burned with the LG GSA-4120B. The software we used for all measurements is KProbe v2.2.2, and the reader is the LiteOn LDW-811S with "HS0Q patched" firmware, being able to read DVD±R/RW media up to 8X CAV. All scans have been performed at 8X with PI/PIF Sum8. Note that LiteOn drives cannot report PO but PIF errors, despite what KProbe reports. In addition, all discs have been scanned with the PX-712SA v1.03 using PlexTools v2.15 for comparison levels.

Comparing the KProbe/PlexTools scans we can see major differences in the reported PI/PIF error rates. The main explanation is that we have two different readers, with different pickup/chipset combinations, scanning at different reading speeds (8X CAV for KProbe, 2X CLV for PlexTools). It's interesting to see the disc scanned at low & high speeds, since when the error rate increases at a specific disc area, it should appear in both scans... else it would be, perhaps, a reading glitch of the tested reader.

Note: PI/PIF errors only give us a quick look at the error rate of the burned media. Those scans should be taken not as the absolute criteria of the burning quality but as an indication level.

8X DVD-R Writing Speed

- Summary

Very good recording performance from the drive at 8X!


13. KProbe/PlexTools Scans - Page 2

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 12

KProbe/PlexTools Scans - Page 2

In the following screenshots you can see the PI/PIF scans for the DVD-R media we burned with the LG GSA-4120B. The software we used for all measurements is KProbe v2.2.2, and the reader is the LiteOn LDW-811S with "HS0Q patched" firmware, being able to read DVD±R/RW media up to 8X CAV. All scans have been performed at 8X with PI/PIF Sum8. Note that LiteOn drives cannot report PO but PIF errors, despite what KProbe reports. In addition, all discs have been scanned with the PX-712SA v1.03 using PlexTools v2.15 for comparison levels.

Comparing the KProbe/PlexTools scans we can see major differences in the reported PI/PIF error rates. The main explanation is that we have two different readers, with different pickup/chipset combinations, scanning at different reading speeds (8X CAV for KProbe, 2X CLV for PlexTools). It's interesting to see the disc scanned at low & high speeds, since when the error rate increases at a specific disc area, it should appear in both scans... else it would be, perhaps, a reading glitch of the tested reader.

Note: PI/PIF errors only give us a quick look at the error rate of the burned media. Those scans should be taken not as the absolute criteria of the burning quality but as an indication level.

4X DVD-R Writing Speed

Plextor PX-712A cannot mount disc!

Plextor PX-712A reports read error!!!

- Summary

The PI/PIF scans showed that the drive will produce good results with some media, while not with others. The best results came with Maxel R02 and TY 4X media.


14. KProbe/PlexTools Scans - Page 3

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 13

KProbe/PlexTools Scans - Page 3

In the following screenshots you can see the PI/PIF scans for the DVD-R media we burned with the LG GSA-4120B. The software we used for all measurements is KProbe v2.2.2, and the reader is the LiteOn LDW-811S with "HS0Q patched" firmware, being able to read DVD±R/RW media up to 8X CAV. All scans have been performed at 8X with PI/PIF Sum8. Note that LiteOn drives cannot report PO but PIF errors, despite what KProbe reports. In addition, all discs have been scanned with the PX-712SA v1.03 using PlexTools v2.15 for comparison levels.

Comparing the KProbe/PlexTools scans we can see major differences in the reported PI/PIF error rates. The main explanation is that we have two different readers, with different pickup/chipset combinations, scanning at different reading speeds (8X CAV for KProbe, 2X CLV for PlexTools). It's interesting to see the disc scanned at low & high speeds, since when the error rate increases at a specific disc area, it should appear in both scans... else it would be, perhaps, a reading glitch of the tested reader.

Note: PI/PIF errors only give us a quick look at the error rate of the burned media. Those scans should be taken not as the absolute criteria of the burning quality but as an indication level.

12X DVD+R Writing Speed

- Summary

The recording quality is outstanding for the 12X writing speed. The best results came with Maxell and TY 8X media with very low error rates from both KProbe and Plextools software. Excellent performance!


15. KProbe/PlexTools Scans - Page 4

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 13

KProbe/PlexTools Scans - Page 4

In the following screenshots you can see the PI/PIF scans for the DVD-R media we burned with the LG GSA-4120B. The software we used for all measurements is KProbe v2.2.2, and the reader is the LiteOn LDW-811S with "HS0Q patched" firmware, being able to read DVD±R/RW media up to 8X CAV. All scans have been performed at 8X with PI/PIF Sum8. Note that LiteOn drives cannot report PO but PIF errors, despite what KProbe reports. In addition, all discs have been scanned with the PX-712SA v1.03 using PlexTools v2.15 for comparison levels.

Comparing the KProbe/PlexTools scans we can see major differences in the reported PI/PIF error rates. The main explanation is that we have two different readers, with different pickup/chipset combinations, scanning at different reading speeds (8X CAV for KProbe, 2X CLV for PlexTools). It's interesting to see the disc scanned at low & high speeds, since when the error rate increases at a specific disc area, it should appear in both scans... else it would be, perhaps, a reading glitch of the tested reader.

Note: PI/PIF errors only give us a quick look at the error rate of the burned media. Those scans should be taken not as the absolute criteria of the burning quality but as an indication level.

8X DVD+R Writing Speed

- Summary

Again, the recording quality is superb for most of the media supported at the 8X speed. Very good performance from the LG drive!


16. KProbe/PlexTools Scans - Page 5

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 13

KProbe/PlexTools Scans - Page 5

In the following screenshots you can see the PI/PIF scans for the DVD-R media we burned with the LG GSA-4120B. The software we used for all measurements is KProbe v2.2.2, and the reader is the LiteOn LDW-811S with "HS0Q patched" firmware, being able to read DVD±R/RW media up to 8X CAV. All scans have been performed at 8X with PI/PIF Sum8. Note that LiteOn drives cannot report PO but PIF errors, despite what KProbe reports. In addition, all discs have been scanned with the PX-712SA v1.03 using PlexTools v2.15 for comparison levels.

Comparing the KProbe/PlexTools scans we can see major differences in the reported PI/PIF error rates. The main explanation is that we have two different readers, with different pickup/chipset combinations, scanning at different reading speeds (8X CAV for KProbe, 2X CLV for PlexTools). It's interesting to see the disc scanned at low & high speeds, since when the error rate increases at a specific disc area, it should appear in both scans... else it would be, perhaps, a reading glitch of the tested reader.

Note: PI/PIF errors only give us a quick look at the error rate of the burned media. Those scans should be taken not as the absolute criteria of the burning quality but as an indication level.

4X DVD+R Writing Speed

- Summary

The recording quality with most 4X +R media was very good. With specific media, the drive didn't perform very well. Users should note which media works best with their drive and of course LG should improve the performance.


17. DVD+R DL - Page 1

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 14

DVD+R DL - Page 1

- Writing Tests

The LG drive supports the new Double Layer recording format. We burned a Verbatim DVD+R DL disc (manufactured by MKM) with DVD-Video content. The source disc was "Gladiator Movie - Special Edition" Disc1 with a total size of 6.86GB.

First, we transferred the movie to the hard disc with DVD Decrypter as ISO format (single file). We chose the "GLADIATOR.ISO" image and we selected the LG burner to start burning.

After pressing "OK", the burning procedure started after 18sces:

The writing process finished after 38:12 minutes. The average speed was 2.33X as reported by the CopyToDVD software. The recorded disc was in DVD+R9 format.

For comparison reasons, we post some burning results from other DL writers, which all burned the same content ("Gladiator Movie - Special Edition" disc1), using the CopyToDVD software:

Drive
Time (mins)
NEC 2510A
37:17
BenQ DW1600A DL
40:16
BenQ DW830A
39:14
LiteON SOHW-832S DVD+R DL BookType
38:33
LiteON SOHW-832S DVD-ROM BookType
38:36
SONY DRU-700A

38:39

LG GSA-4120B
38:12

We then tried to burn a Double Layer media provided by Traxdata. The disc was recognized without any complaint from the drive, and burning started after 45secs.

The total burning time was 38:08mins:


18. DVD+R DL - Page 2

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 15

DVD+R DL - Page 2

- Writing Quality

* Verbatim 2.4X DVD+R Double Layer Media

Using KProbe v2.2.2 at 6X, we got a rather good scan, indicating, again, good quality performance from the drive with the recorded DL media.

Using the Plextor PX-712A and PlexTools, we were able to scan the DVD+R DL media. The disc is recognized as DVD-ROM and as we can see the quality is very good:

* TraxData 2.4X DVD+R9 Double Layer Media

This time, the burning quality wasn't so impressive since in Layer1, the writing quality seems much worse than in Layer0. LG said that officially, under A102 firmware, Ritek DL media isn't supported, but newer firmware should fix this problem.

The Plextor PX-712A drive stops reading when it reaches Layer0 with un-correctable error...

- Compatibility

Unfortunately, we were not surprised to see that the DVD+R9 media was not compatible with most stand-alone dvd players, since there is no official booktype bitsetting utility provided by LG. Both Double Layer media were recorded with DVD+R DL booktype.


19. DVD-RAM

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 19

DVD-RAM Tests

The LG GSA-4120B is the first ever PC recorder that supports the 5X DVD-RAM media. Maxell announced on 26 May of 2004, the 5X DVD-RAM media: with the following press release"

"...Maxell's latest DVD-RAM media is based on its newly-developed Bismuth Coupling Material (BCM) recording layer, which improves signal to noise ratio for higher reliability during high-speed recording. The new media has a capacity of 4.7GB, which equates to up to six hours of video in extended play mode. It is also backward compatible, supporting recording at 2X and 3X in addition to its 5X speed. The single-sided disc is compatible with all DVD-RAM drives and recorders and RAM readable DVD-ROM devices and DVD players.

Maxell's advanced hard coating provides superior durability and the anti-static properties make the Maxell 5X DVD-RAM media resistant to dust and dirt. BCM recording layer technology, together with an error correction system, and unrivaled shelf life ensures high reliability for data storage and recovery. Maxell's latest DVD-RAM product is ideally suited for multimedia storage, software title production, large file storage, data transfer and library systems, as well as high-capacity archival storage.

"

DVD-RAM is an advanced recording media format that offers a range of digital data applications. Its phase-change recording material allows discs to be re-recordable and erasable, and a superior defect management system ensures accurate recording and playback. DVD-RAM allows instant, random access to any location on the disc for fast and easy data reading and writing. Because DVD-RAM supports fast formatting and no finalizing, it is an extremely easy-to-use media. And with DVD-RAM, changes can be made directly on the disc without the need to transfer data to a hard drive first, speeding up the editing tasks..."

Let's see the media information, according to DVDInfoPro:

The media has MXL16 ID and the drive reports 5.0X ZCLV writing strategy, as the drive reports. Compared toMaxell 3X DVD-RAM media, we can see the differences in the media ID code.

The Maxell DVD-RAM media comes pre-formatted with UDF2.00, meaning WinXP/2k will recognize the disc directly, since DVD-RAM is supported by Microsoft. Of course you can format (erase) the disc and use it with a normal application like Nero. LG includes the well known InCD for packet writing.

For our tests, we used the latest InCD version 4.2.9.1:

After installing InCD, a new TAB was added to the drive's properties providing information about the file system:

After pressing "format", a new window opens where we can set the disc's label name as well as set some advanced options

InCD recommends UDF 2.00 as the main file system for the disc. The formatting is almost instantaneous (less than 10secs):

- Burning Tests

In the beginning, we were very excited hoping to see the 5X Z-CLV writing strategy, but instead, by using NeroCDSpeed, we got a rather dissapointing graph:

Click To Enlarge!

The drive started 1.37X and using the P-CAV writing strategy, reached 1.53X, giving an average writing speed of 1.37X. Its quite interesting that the official specs from LG USA/Canada report 5X Z-CLV, while the HLDS website reports 5X P-CAV! A rather confusing situation...

Comparing the 5X vs 3X DVD-RAM media, we can see that the drive starts writing at 1.03X and continues till the end at this speed, resulting in an average speed of 0.98X.

Click To Enlarge!

Let's proceed with real life burning tests with Nero:

Noticed anything weird? Nero reports that the 5X DVD-RAM media is written at 2.1X (actually, it's 1.3X->2.1X P-CAV), while the 3X DVD-RAM media is written at 1.03~1.4X (P-CAV). Either using Nero or InCD, we got exactly the same writing performance using both the 3X and 5X DVD-RAM media (12mins).

Most users will wonder, why 5X DVD-RAM is even slower than a 2.4X DVD+RW drive? The answer lies in the way DVD-RAM technology works. In short, the drive uses a different writing strategy (write/verify), compared with the traditional writing only method (always writing). This reduces by almost half the overall burning speed, explaining why we didn't witness any major performance boost.

LG commented that "...In the case of DVD-RAM, it has Write and Verify feature. This means drive reads after write to verify written data.  Default setting of GSA-4120B for this Write and Verify feature is enabled.  This is a reason why you see 1.4-2.1X writing speed, half of 5X speed.  In the case of video streaming data write, Write and Verify feature is disabled, therefore, in this case writing speed is 5X ZCLV..."

Hopefully, the recently announced 16X DVD-RAM technology will hit the market in the upcoming year, offering its users much lower recording/reading times.


20. BookType Setting

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 20

BookType Setting

The LG GSA-4120B doesn't officialy support the BookType Setting for DVD+R/+RW/+R9 formats, at least with the current A102 firmware. There are some indications that future firmware updates may offer Booktype Setting, at least we hope so!


21. Conclusion

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 21

Conclusion

The LG GSA-4120B is the first ever DVD Multi recorder that not only supports reading/writing of all DVD recording formats (DVD±R/RW and DVD-RAM), but also supports them at the currently available highest recording speeds.

The big advantage of the LG drive is its support for 5X DVD-RAM media. It's already known that DVD-RAM offers the highest reliability among DVD re-writable media with 100,000 re-write times and superior defect management. Unfortunaly, users may have expected superb performance with the announced 5X Zone-CLV speed, however in truth, the actual performance is slightly slower than a 2.4X DVD+RW recorder.

The drive also supports the newly announced DVD+R DL format. The performance was superb with Verbatim, but bad with Ritek's DL media which hopefully will fixed with new firmware..

The supported media list for the drive is rather strict, meaning most of your media will be written either at 8X or even 4X. LG doesn't support the so called "overspeed" (burning media at higher recording speeds than the media's rated speed), which may annoy most of the users. However, we have to note that with specific media, the PI/PIF error rates are simply outstanding!

Going back to the drive's weaknesses, there is no official support for the Booktype setting (a crucial feature for DVD+R DL to maintain compatibility with DVD players), CD Error correction could be better, it cannot backup the latest SD 2.9+ versions, writing performance needs improvement for specific CD/DVD media and finally, it cannot be used to measure -scan- CD or DVD media, a feature that the competition (LiteON/Plextor) includes.

The price for this drive is considerably low (US$92~$110), making it a very good purchase. The LG GSA-4120B sets a new standard in the 12X category with its excellent writing quality! Well done LG!

- The Good

- The Bad

- Like To be fixed

 


22. Firmware Hacks

LG GSA-4120B DL Recorder - Page 22

Firmware Hacks

As we have already mentioned, the LG GSA-4120B doesn't support Booktype Bitsetting for any format. LG un-officially released a firmware that supports DVD-ROM booktype for +R/+RW/+R9 discs, which can be found at TDB website.

The package includes two files, the N0ADAUTO.exe and N0ADRPC1.exe. The windows flasher will flash your drive without any problems. Using the official firmware...

Afterwards, we can check the drive's new information, our drive is region free :-)

After burning a DVD+R disc we saw that the burned disc had DVD-ROM booktype:

With the N0AD firmware you can also have DVD-ROM booktype for DVD+R DL discs, fixing this problem. Of course, we would like to have this feature from LG officially not from un-official firmware. Its quite possible that the N0AD improves the media compatibility with several media we have reported in previous pages...



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