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Home > Hardware Reviews > Optical Storage

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:

  • Samsung SH-B123L BD combo drive
  • CyberLink BD Suite: PowerDVD 9 (BD disc playback), PowerProducer 5 (DVD Authoring), MediaShow 4 (Media management), Power2GO 6 (data burning), InstantBurn 5 (packet writing), LabelPrint 2 (Label designs, LightScribe), BDAdvisor 2.
  • Quick Installation Guide
  • SATA Cable
  • Mounting Screws

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:

  • Multisession disc writing speed adjustment (spinning RPM) on DVD-R Dual layer Disc (Verbatim DVD-R DL 4X)
  • 8cm BD-RE disc read improvement
  • Dual layer disc writing quality tuning.

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.

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