So you get home one afternoon to find a box has been delivered that you were not expecting. You open the box with anticipation.
In the box is a LITEON Internal 8x Blu-ray Disc Reader and DVD/CD writer combo drive. Did I mention that I love my job?
Once the grin stops (ok it never really did) you realize that you are ill prepared to review this device and now need to get going in a big way if you are to do a thorough review of the product.
I wanted to do a couple comparisons of this product to make sure that the “Combo” part of this drive does not sacrifice performance for functionality as many “Combo” devices often do.
I thought of my own experiences with Blu-ray to date (mostly time spent waiting for discs to load and or to start to play in a standalone player). Here I am hoping during the comparison that the internal drive will load and start media MUCH quicker.
Next I notice the advertised Read/Write Speeds are close in comparison to my current setup, a Samsung 22X SATA DVD/CD drive with Lightscribe. So of course a comparison must be done here too.
Last and certainly not least.. What does the video/sound quality look/sound like when output to my home theater system? Read along to find how the LITE-ON iHES208-08 Blu-ray Player stacks up against the competition.
These tests were completed using the following system specifications:
Core i7 920 @ 3.2Ghz ( I run a slight overclock on this system while folding/FAH for Team XCPUS.com)
ASUS P6T Deluxe V1
3x2gb of Patriot DDR3-1600Mhz 9-9-9-24 @1600
Dual Nvidia GTX260-216 EVGA SC Editions in SLI
3x750gb Samsung SPinPoint F1s in Raid 5
Dual 22x SATA Samsung DVD/CD Writer combo drives with Lightscribe
LITE-ON 8x Blu-ray Disc Reader and DVD/CD Writer Combo Drive.
Optima H78DC3 720P DLP projector on 113″ screen
Yamaha RX-V620 Receiver Dolby Digital 5.1 ONLY
Onkyo 1920 Upscaling DVD player
Boston Acoustics VRM-50s Front and Back, VRM-Center and Definitive Technologies 10″ Sub
24″ ASUS HDCP compliant monitor 1080P capable
Internal Blu-ray Combo Drive
Quick Installation Guide
SATA DATA Cable
Cyberlink PowerDVD BD Solution Disc
2 face plates to allow color matching to both Black and Aluminum cases
Installation of the product was very uneventful. This is a good thing. The iHES208 uses industry standard SATA connectors for power and data transmission.
Something to note though is the size of the player. Its length is aproximately 1 inch longer than my Samsung 22x SATA DVD Combo drives.
This was not a problem but it is something to plan for when purchasing a case or planning for placement with longer video cards.
So anyone that has dealt with Blu-ray is well aware that the load times of the standalone players are horrible at best.
Often taking up to two minutes (especially if a newer disk is purchased) to load to the top menu. This just gets you “ready” to press play.
Once play is pressed the disc will then take another time detour and finally start the media.
This was very annoying to me as I would like to put the video in, press play, and get to the movie as quickly as possible.
I visited with a friend who had recently purchased a new “Standalone” Blu-ray player to get some load times for this comparison. I figured a NEW Sharp Aquos Player should be a reasonable sample.
We took load time samples using a stop watch and several newer BD discs. There were two discs in particular that came to mind.
The movies “No country for old men” and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” were used for the purposes of this review.
The Indy movie was chosen as my friend was very upset with the content load times on that video, having watched it the day before.
Standalone Player ( Sharp Aquos BD-HP20U)load times:
The load time for Indy was 40 seconds to get to the top menu in the standalone player. There was an additional read time delay of 32 seconds on play being pressed and the first part of ANY video being displayed.
The Load times for No country for old men were very similar for the top menu 38 Seconds. However the time to display video after pressing play from the top menu was much quicker at only 14 seconds.
Internal Blu-ray (LITEON iHES208-08) Load times:
Here is where the LITEON product really shined. The load times were greatly reduced on all available videos. The Top Menu loads quickly and watching the video after play is pressed is also quick.
Indys load times were 8 seconds to load the TOP MENU. This is a full 32 second advantage over the standalone player. Pressing play takes you to the video almost immediately as well. There was only 4 seconds, again showing another 28 second advantage over the standalone player.
Load times for No country for old men were greatly reduced as well. Actually the internal player showed similar results for this disc as it did for Indy at 8 Seconds for Top Menu and 4 Seconds for video to start after play is depressed.
****** Note ******
The Sharp Aquos BD player load and play times were taken from a player that had been updated to the current firmware.
Video playback was very much as expected. The video quality was very nice and the colors were rich and vibrant. This is an expected result from this media. There were no stutters during playback (see the specifications for the test rig and there should not be any stuttering)
So is “as expected” video quality a bad thing? No not at all. Most media sources that replay video in High Definition resolutions and color spaces are excellent at presenting video.
This player is no exception. We need to understand that the system as a whole can make a difference in video quality.
If you have a poor video card that struggles at HD resolutions then your whole experience can be unsatisfactory.
If your processor is not capable of handling the work, it too can cause a lack of quality playback. These are just some things to keep in mind when getting ready for “on PC High Definition”.
Audio quality during playback was a great experience. The quality is very similar to that of DVDs played back in Dolby Digital 5.1. Sound was clear and precise giving you that I was there feeling. This too is an expected result given the BD media.
The soundstage was nice and again precise. My Home Theater was loving this setup. The Boston Acoustics VRM series speakers reproduce each nuance of the music, video and voice very clearly. The BD digital audio was very nice. Please be advised that I tested this on a 5.1 system not a 7/8.1 system. I feel this is a reasonable test as most homes will not cater to a 7.1 system let alone an 8.1.
If I get the chance I will update the review with the 7.1 findings.
Obviously not everyone has migrated their entire movie library to BD or HD.
That is why I also tested video playback of standard DVDs.
I tested this product against an Onkyo 1920 Upscaling DVD player (a very nice standalone player in its own right).
This test was performed on the projector at 720P and video qualtiy during playback from both devices was very nice.
Again colors were precise and vivid.
The iHES208 Liteon player was a surprise in this category. Since the Onkyo has its own on board scaling devices that are quite nice (this is the reason I chose this player in the first place).
Lacking a discrete scaler it still performed very well at 720P.
Many of the recognizable upscaling defects/artifacts were nearly non-existent.
There is an opening war scene in Gladiator that is dark with lots of motion and this typically plays havok with most upscaling DVD players.
With most players there is motion crawling and blocking in a number of the darker sequences. With the Liteon player these were handled equally as well as the Onkyo.
I do not know if I can contribute this to the playback codecs, the video card, the player, the processors capabilities or what. I do know that the needed quality is there.
This is a nice feature as you can not only play back BD movies in all their HD glory but you can also use this to replace your upscaling DVD player.
Ok I have to say it. I have had a great run of great products lately. Is this a peak of what is to come? Are we getting better and better devices? From the DLINK-DSM210 to the locking HDMI cable from PPC (review still in the works) to now where I have had the opportunity to test a truly well implemented combo device.
Like most when it comes to the term “Combo” I tend to run scared. It is almost like the first smartphones that were released. They were a “Combo” device pairing palm top computing and cellular telephones, neither of which they did well. This device changes the game. As a “Combo” device it actually performs very well. It is a breeze to setup and use and it actually does everything it said it would.
This is truly outstanding. The iHES208 is the true combo device. Its read and write speeds are right up there with drives that are technically spec’d higher. Its video and audio playback are also stellar. It provides for a great playback device of older DVDs as well.
I have to say, Phillips in conjunction with LITEON, WELL DONE!
Write Speeds CD-R: (Time to write 536mb to a CD-R)
Samsung 22x SATA DVD-R: 00:02:40
LITEON 8X Combo Drive: 00:02:28
Advantage LITEON 00:00:12 seconds
Write Speeds DVD+R: (Time to write 4.02GB, 1272 individual files to a DVD+R)
Samsung 22x SATA DVD-R: 00:10:20
LITEON 8X Combo Drive: 00:07:22
Advantage LITEON 00:02:58 seconds
These write speeds tell me one of two things. Either the iHES208 from LITEON is just plain quick or I have an ill configuration on the Samsung 22X Drives.
In all fairness I only test +R media for the DVD write tests. So the Samsungs might show a difference there.