- Playback of both Blu-ray and HD-DVD with read and write support for all other CD and DVD formats.
- The only current format this drive can’t write to is HD-DVD. Full HDCP compliance for most systems would add the cost of a new monitor and graphics card to the already high cost of this drive.
This multi-format drive is one of the first dual Blu-ray and HD-DVD playback capable drives to appear on the market. Multi format hardware is likely to be the short term answer for the end user to the Blu-ray, HD-DVD format war, although if dual format drives do sell in large numbers the dominance of one format over the other may be slowed and the battle extended.
LG describes this drive as Super Multi, which is the LG in-house buzz word to indicate it will read and write all formats of CD and DVD. The one thing the GGW-H10N won’t do is write to HD-DVD.
The LG Super Multi Blue uses a SATA interface and the SATA power/data connector is the only user connector on the back of the drive. A SATA data cable, a blank Blu-ray disc, four mounting screws and a brief paper manual are provided in the retail box. At the moment, this drive is only available with a black bezel, although LG has tried to make the front of the drive look more exciting through using a raised moulding with a high gloss transparent insert, set off against the textured matte black background. Front panel features are limited to a close/eject button and a blue drive activity indicator. There’s also the small hole for insertion of a manual eject tool. The drive's capabilities are clearly indicated by logos for Super Multi Blue, Blu-ray and HD-DVD printed along the front edge of the disc loading tray.
Software provided with the drive
Five Cyberlink software applications are packed with the drive, collectively known as the Cyberlink BD (for Blu-ray Disc) Solution – ‘The ultimate BD burning and creativity suite’. The suite consists of
- Power2Go – a Blu-ray and HD-DVD capable writing application,
- Instant Burn - a packet writer for Blu-ray and HD-DVD,
- PowerProducer DVD – video authoring software with HD capability,
- Cyberlink Power DVD - movie playback software and
- Cyberlink Power Backup.
On autorun the software CD offers only a single install button for all of these applications although during the install it’s possible to choose which components are installed. There is also an opportunity to insert a user name and a company name. The software CD key normally required for manual entry on Cyberlink retail products is automatically filled in on this OEM version of the software. It is possible to upgrade these OEM versions to the latest versions of the Cyberlink software at the normal upgrade price. Cyberlink recommend removing any other packet writing software when installing Instant Burn.
There is also a Cyberlink system analysis utility; BD Advisor. BD Advisor checks the processor power, the amount of system memory, the operating system and version, the graphics card hardware, the graphics card driver, the optical drives, the display for HDCP compliance and for the presence of a suitable software player. It will flag any of these components that aren’t HDCP compliant and is a convenient way to see if any parts of a system need upgrading for Blu-ray or HD-DVD commercial movie playback. Very few systems are likely to be fully compliant and normally a new graphics card and monitor will be needed. Added to the cost of this drive a full upgrade could be expensive.
LG supplies an automatic drive firmware update utility which is offered as an install option. This will identify the LG drives active in a system and check their firmware against the latest firmware available from the LG servers, then offer the option to download and upgrade. This is well worth the trouble as the performance of new drives like the GGW-H10N will generally improve as LG continues to fine tune the firmware.
The LG Super Multi Blue solves the problem of having to choose between Blu-Ray or HD-DVD for a PC movie playback drive by supporting both standards. Out of the two high capacity formats it is still limited to writing only to Blu-Ray, although it can read and write all other CD and DVD formats, even Dual Layer DVD-R. At least the Blu-Ray format has the largest capacity of the two, an obvious advantage for back-up purposes and basic backup duties are supported by the Cyberlink Power Backup software provided. Overall this is a very capable drive supporting a very wide range of formats.