Review: LG GCE-8160B CD Burner
Iain Laskey enthuses about LG's 16 speed burner
|Price||£89 (PC World currently selling at £69)|
|We don't like|
There are some very fast CD burners on the market with several 24 speed units around and faster ones just starting to be released. For the budget conscious consumer there is a lot of sense in going for a slightly slower but much cheaper option. The LG GCE-8160B can be picked up at PC World right now for a mere £69 and contrary to expectations, it isn't cheap and nasty.
The box contains the bare drive which sports 16x CD-R writing, 10x CD-RW writing and 40x reading as well as all the usual IDE cables, screws and sound card leads. The supplied software is Roxio CD Creator version 5 which is the latest version although not the full 'Platinum' style. You can still burn almost any type of CD although some of the more esoteric features such as vinyl restoration, and Video-CD creation are missing. You can of course use 3rd party software or upgrade to the full version of CD Creator 5 Platinum. A bonus is a good pair of manuals covering the drive itself and the supplied software. The latter contains a lot of useful information for both beginners and experts alike. The package is rounded off with a CD-RW blank rated at 10x.
Installation was excellent. Windows 98 spotted the drive with no problems and the software was up and running in minutes. A refreshingly trouble free experience.
As well as sporting a 16/10/40 set of speeds, the unit uses LG's version of Burnproof called Super-Link. This feature ought to eliminate the dreaded buffer under-run problem that used to plague CD burners. The result is you should never have a burn fail if your PC can't keep up the flow of data to the burner. I tried firing up numerous programs and running some disk intensive jobs during burns with no ill effects, the data read back fine afterwards.
One thing that may be a problem for some is that the slowest the drive will burn at is 4x. This may be a problem if you are trying to back up certain CDs or ensure compatibility with some CD players. More on this later.
The front panel contains the usual pair of next track/eject buttons as well as a headphones jack and volume control. A pair of LEDs show red when reading and green when burning which seemed back to front to me.
This is where the drive truly starts to shine. All too often you see a printer rated at 10 pages a minute that actually churns stuff out at a more leisurely four or five. Equally, it is rare for a CD Burner to go as quick as it claims. Not in this case. When it came to reading, I actually got slightly better than the 40X quoted. More amazingly, it managed to do DAE (Digital Audio Extraction) at this speed, a task which few drives manage at anywhere near their rated speed. This speeds up copying data from music CDs enormously when making compilation CDs. The read speed dropped when reading CD-RW disks but was still very good.
The writing times were also pretty good with an 80 minute CD taking about five and a half minutes to burn on to a CD-R. CD-RW times are good too and when used with packet writing software the drive makes a viable backup medium that allows you to simply drag and drop files on to it when needed.
Another useful feature is the ability to overburn CDs. Overburning is the slightly risky method of packing more on a CD-R than it is designed to take. This drive is one of only a handful that has been found to go as high as 99 minutes on a single CD-R (tested at www.tomshardware.com ). I didn't try overburning myself but this is worth bearing in mind for music CDs. It's not recommended for data or backups.
I mentioned earlier about using this drive for backing up CDs. A common method for protecting CDs particularly games is SafeDisk2. To backup SD2 protected titles you need a drive capable of appropriate subchannel data reading and writing. This drive comes in two variants, the CED-8160 for the US markets and the GCE-8160 for elsewhere. It has been reported that only Korean models of the GCE version supports the required subchannel features. However, drives sold in Canada have also been found to have this feature so it's reasonable to assume that all GCE units can do this. Furthermore, the CloneCD web site ( www.elby.org/CloneCD/english/cdr_l.htm ) lists the GCE-8160B as being able to read RAW-DAO 96 and write RAW+96 which translates as all subchannel types. I didn't have the appropriate software to test this myself but at this price, it is worth bearing in mind as a probable feature in UK models.
If you can live with the 16x speed and to be honest, at 5 minutes per CD it's still no slouch, this drive is a major bargain. The overall speeds for the price plus the excellent DAE and subchannel abilities combine with the bundled software to make an excellent excuse for blowing your Christmas money. I did!
Note that if you check their .kr web site for further information, I had a lot of trouble getting the pages to view with IE 5.5. You may have better luck trying www.lgeus.com or using the .co.uk site.