By Loyd Case  |  Posted 2004-05-25 Print this article Print

-On SOHW-812S"> The SHOW-812S arrived with a barebones software package consisting only of Sonics MyDVD and PowerDVD XP DVD viewing software. At $85 for the OEM version, this might seem like a good deal, especially if you already own DVD / CD burning software. The 812S ships with a 2MB buffer.
Performance as a DVD-ROM drive is pretty good, too, right up with the Asus and Memorex drives. The Lite-On also had the best DVD-ROM average seek time of all the drives.
However, burn performance turned out to be on the slow side. Even after we upgraded to the latest firmware revision (US0J), the DVD-R burn performance was the slowest of the bunch. If you compare the DVD-R burn curve to the DVD+R burn curve, you can see why. As you can see, the DVD-R burn curve remains at the mid-plateau for a longer period. Other drives, like the Sony DRU-530A, exhibit something similar, but they still boost the burn rate to 8x speeds sooner than the Lite-On. On top of the performance issues with burning, the 812S seems fragile – or at least, the unit we tested seemed fragile. We accidentally dropped a handful of drives about a foot onto a tabletop. All survived, except the 812S, whose drawer became jammed. This may simply have been an issue with a single drive and our unintended drop test was certainly not scientific. The bottom line is that the Lite-On SHOW-812S has relatively slow burn performance and very solid DVD reader performance. If you want a unit that will mostly be used as your primary reader and to burn the occasional DVD, the 812S may be a good choice.
Product Lite-On SOHW-812S
Web Site
Pros Speedy DVD read performance; low price
Cons Relatively slow DVD burn performance; limited software bundle
Summary The 812S has few amenities, but wont cost you an arm and a leg.
Price $85, check prices

Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

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