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Lite-On SOHW:1633S

Lite-On has been making optical drives for a very long time, and you’ll generally find that a lot of “big name” optical drives are often Lite-On drives in disguise. The SOHW:1633S looks a bit different to the majority of DVD writers you see these days – with a kind of retro feel, the SOHW:1633S sports a headphone socket and volume wheel, so that you can listen to CDs directly from the drive. Unfortunately there’s no play/skip controls, so you’d still have to use Windows to control the playback anyway. Also adorning the front fascia is a single eject button, an indicator light and a manual eject hole.

One advantage that the Lite-On has is that it’s a pretty short drive, making it an attractive proposition if you’re building a small form factor box.

In the box you’ll find the drive itself, an audio cable, mounting screws and a quick start guide. Once again an IDE cable is conspicuous by its absence. There’s a decent software bundle in the form of the Nero OEM suite, along with CyberLink’s PowerDVD. Finally the box states that there should have been blank DVD-R and DVD+R discs inside, although they were long gone in our review sample.

Specifications are pretty much par for the course in this test. The Lite-On will burn DVD+R discs at 16x, DVD-R discs at 8x, while both DVD-RW and DVD+RW media gets written at 4x. DVD+R DL discs are burned at an excruciatingly slow 2.4x, but that’s standard across the board with the exception of the NEC. Finally, the Lite-On will write CD-R discs at 48x and CD-RW media at 24x – again pretty standard.

Performance wise the Lite-On put on a reasonable show, managing to put in times below six minutes on two out of the three DVD+R tests, and grabbing second place across the board. The Lite-On maintained it’s second place ranking in all the DVD+RW tests too, and managed second place in two out of the four DVD-RW tests. The Dual Layer results were a bit strange, with the Lite-On grabbing second place in one test and last place in the other. DVD-R performance was also a bit concerning, with the Lite-On hugging the bottom end of the graphs on all the tests. Finally CD-R and CD-RW performance was nothing to write home about either, although to be fair any of the drives on test are pretty quick at burning CDs.

The Lite-On is reasonably priced at £49, while still being generally faster than the cheaper AOpen. That said, looking at the overall time graph, you can see that the Lite-On is the second slowest drive on test.


The Lite-On SOHW:1633S is a decent enough DVD writer, and produces times on a par with much of the competition. However, we’d still pay the extra £8 and buy the far faster NEC instead.


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