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Home > Hardware Reviews > Optical Storage > DVD Recorders Double Layer

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.

  • Compact and high power optical pick up for 12x write: A high power laser allowing high speed recording is embedded. Its unique heat radiation structure acquires speed and stabilization, realizing high performance.
  • 1 chip LSI (DSP) for 5x DVD-RAM and 12x +R: Not only accomplished speeding up the high function LSI (DSP) developed for conventional products that process all formats (DVD-RAM/R/RW, +R/RW, CD-R/RW, DVD-ROM and CD-ROM), but also succeeded in devising a single chip system instead of the conventional 3 chips (DSP, MPU, SDRAM). This one chip LSI contributes to the reduction of current consumption, high reliability and compact design.
  • High-precision LD power learning control for 12x write: By adopting the newly developed high precision LD power control learning method which applies DVD-RAM's LD power learning method, recording quality at 12x is secured.
  • Stable and high speed disc rotation mechanism: Stable operation is also secured at high speed disc rotations to realize high quality write/read.

- 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:

LG GSA-4120B
Transfer Rate Read
2X, 3X (CLV), 5X (Z-CLV) DVD-RAM
2.4X DVD+R9
Transfer Rate Write
Access Time
motorized Tray load mechanism for horizonal and vertical use
Burst Transfer Rate
PIO mode 4 / Ultra DMA 33
Cashe Memory
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
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
  10. CopyToDVD 3.0.22

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