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Samsung 12X S-ATA LightScribe BD-ROM/DVD Writer (SH-B123) Review

I was at the Staples over the weekend, buying… y’know, staples… and couldn’t help but notice the variety of big (over 20 inches diagonal) Full HD 1920×1080 LCD computer monitors that were on sale, some with LED backlighting, some even marked as “Clearance.” No doubt about it, the desktop is now ready for Blu-ray resolution (or TheaterByte, if you will), but parking a Blu-ray deck between your tower and keyboard as a source component is hardly the solution.

The Samsung 12X S-ATA LightScribe BD-ROM/DVD Writer, on the other hand, just might be. It is one of the most versatile optical disc drives I have ever seen, which starts with nimble 12X-speed (54MB/second) BD-ROM reading, as well as 8X on BD-ROM DL, BD-R, BD-R DL, BD-RE, and 6X BD-RE DL/BD-Hybrid.

It is also a DVD-Multi Recorder with support for DVD + R DL (dual-layer, for up to 8.5GB of data on one side of a blank dual-layer DVD) and LightScribe, which burns a “label” directly onto the non-data side of LightScribe-compatible blank media discs. And just so we don’t leave out anything five inches across and shiny, this is a Compact Disc Rewritable Ultra Speed Plus drive too, with rates as high as 48X.

But we’re all about the Blu, and this internal player/recorder (Model SH-B123) offers superior performance thanks to its Spherical Aberration Compensation Technology and Precision Step Control Technology, working together to ensure more reliable disc reading. So basically pop in any of your favorite Blu-ray discs and hang on.

Standard DVDs are also upscaled into the realm of BD quality with Samsung’s TrueTheater HD, which smooths stair-step edges and punches up colors. The drive sits inside an “aerodynamic” frame, not so much for helping it achieve Mach 1, rather it further aids the dissipation of noise while discs spin away inside. It’s also energy efficient, with low power consumption despite its advanced two-lens/two-laser diode design.

Installation is fairly simple in a standard-sized PC tower drive bay, with mounting screws and S-ATA data cable provided right in the box. (S-ATA offers more compact cabling and higher data transfer speeds than its predecessor, ATA, with a burst transfer speed of 1.5 gigabits/second.) Of course, there are several links in the HD data chain, so it’s not quite a plug-and-play device. Thankfully, the drive arrives with the BD Advisor application, which scans the PC in question to make sure everything is properly in place. Not to spoil the surprise, but for true high-definition playback of Blu-ray discs, a system needs a Pentium D 3.4GHz or faster CPU, 1GB or more RAM, and a graphics card that can deliver 1920×1200 resolution and 32-bit color, with 256MB dedicated RAM.

The included software disc also provides a suite of CyberLink solutions: PowerDVD 9 (Blu-ray playback), PowerProducer 5 (DVD authoring), MediaShow 5 (media management), Power2Go 6 (data burning), InstaBurn 5 (packet writing) and LabelPrint 2 (label designs) along with the aforementioned BD Advisor 2.

That’s quite an impressive résumé, especially in light of the Samsung SH-B123 BD-ROM drive’s list price of only $87.99.

More information:

[amazon-product]B0044683HI[/amazon-product]

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