- Review Price: £80.00
LG has carved out quite a niche for itself in the DVD writer market, producing one great product after another. However, the problem with being ahead of the game is that it’s all too easy to slip up and find the competition passing you on your blind side. But it seems that the R&D guys at LG are well aware of the fact that complacency is the route failure, and once again we see the Korean giant pushing the boundaries of optical technology with the GSA-4120B.
This latest drive from LG is a huge step forward in terms of performance and functionality. First and foremost, this is the first dual layer drive to break out of the LG stable and is only the second such drive that has made its way into the TrustedReviews offices. LG has also broken new ground with single layer DVD+R performance, by rating this drive at 12-speed, rather than the more common place eight-speed. Unfortunately, after hanging onto this drive as long as I could, I was unable to source any 12-speed media to test this capability. Another step forward is the five-speed DVD-RAM performance, but once again there is no media available to take advantage of this feature, although a little future proofing never hurts.
In the past the LG DVD writers have suffered from disappointing CD performance, with the last generation model still only managing 24-speed CD-R and 16-speed CD-RW performance. Thankfully, this is another area that the engineers at LG have addressed and this latest device will write to CD-R media at 40-speed and CD-RW discs at 24-speed, making this a far more acceptable all round solution.
So, let’s take a look at the full spec rating. The GSA-4120B will write to DVD+R discs at 12-speed and DVD+RW at four-speed. Moving onto DVD-R you get the standard eight-speed and similarly four-speed for DVD-RW. As already mentioned DVD-RAM performance moves up to five-speed, but I can’t really comment on what this equates to in real world terms due to a lack of compatible media. And finally the GSA-4120B will write to DVD+R DL discs at the standard 2.4-speed.
Physically, the GSA-4120B looks pretty much identical to previous LG units. The front fascia sports a single eject button, an indicator light and a manual eject hole. The design still looks good though, with the grey section at the base of the fascia dipping under the eject button and creating a wave-like effect.
The drive that LG sent me was a retail package. Inside the box was the drive itself, an IDE cable, an audio cable and a set of mounting screws. Strangely, for a retail package, there was no blank media included. Thankfully LG has finally moved away from B’s Recorder Gold as the bundled burning software, and gone with the much preferred Nero. Unfortunately it’s only Nero Express, but this is still an improvement on B’s Recorder Gold. You also get InCD for packet writing, PowerDVD for movie playback and PowerProducer Gold for a bit of movie making. The price at the top of this review is for the retail box from dabs.com, which was the only online retailer I could find selling it. If however you just want the bare drive there are quite a few online stores selling the OEM unit, with Scan being the cheapest at the time for writing at £68.49.
LG drives have always offered ultimate flexibility and features, but how does this new unit perform? Well, the simple answer is very well indeed. Looking at the dual layer performance first, the LG lags behind the NEC ND2510A when writing two files totalling 7.9GB. That said, a one and a half minute difference hardly seems an issue when you’re having to wait over 40 minutes for the disc to burn anyway. Writing 8.1GB of mixed digital images took a whisker under three quarters of an hour, so you better make sure you have some other stuff to get on with if you’re going to burn a lot of dual layer discs. The good news is that dual layer media is now freely available and I tested the LG drive using the shipment of discs I received from Verbatim a few weeks ago.
Although there was no 12-speed DVD+R media available at the time of testing, the GSA-4120B turned in some excellent times using eight-speed media of both DVD+R and DVD-R flavours. I can only assume that the tweaks that LG has made to this drive have improved performance across the board rather than just allowing 12-speed DVD+R writing.
The LG managed to burn the 4.3GB MPEG2 file to DVD+R in an astonishing seven minutes 35 seconds compared to nine minutes seven seconds on the NEC. Now, in case you’re thinking that the LG is just squeezing more out of the eight-speed DVD+R media because of its 12-speed capability, think again. Turning to DVD-R media, the LG still managed to burn the 4.3GB MPEG2 file in seven minutes 53 seconds compared with nine minutes 12 seconds on the NEC. So, whether you’re using DVD+R or DVD-R, you’re going to be very happy with this latest drive from LG.
Unfortunately the lightning fast performance isn’t carried over to the re-writable media. Looking at both DVD+RW and DVD-RW shows that the LG is a little slower than the NEC in all but one of the tests, although not by a significant margin.
The faster CD writing specs implemented in the GSA-4120B really show through though. Writing a 700MB file to CD-R took three minutes 18 seconds on the LG compared with three minutes 29 seconds on the NEC. With CD-RW media the LG managed to write 600MB of MP3 files in three minutes and 26 seconds; a task that took four minutes 41 seconds on the NEC.
The LG GSA-4120B is definitely an impressive DVD writer – the performance is very strong and the flexibility unparalleled. This drive really does have every base covered – you can write to dual layer discs, you can burn DVD+R at 12-speed when the media becomes available, the eight-speed DVD-R performance is the best I’ve seen, CD writing performance is first rate, and you can use DVD-RAM discs (at five-speed no less) as well. But most amazing of all is that, yet again, LG has managed to bring all this to market at an unbelievable price. The retail box is good value, but if you can live with just the bare drive, this LG is a serious bargain.
What can I say? The LG GSA-4120B represents the pinnacle of DVD burning. This drive will burn every type of DVD disc on the planet, and it doesn’t waste any time doing it either. Yes, there are 16-speed drives on the horizon, but right here, right now, this is the best DVD writer that money can buy.
All tests performed using Verbatim media.
Score in detail