- Review Price: £42.00
The Samsung WriteMaster TS-H552 is a pretty unremarkable drive on paper. The specs are nothing more than conservative – it will write to DVD+R and DVD-R discs at 16x, DVD+RW and DVD-RW media at 4x, while burning CD-R discs at 48x and CD-RWs at 32x. In fact, except for the 5x DVD-R DL performance, this Samsung really does appear to be nothing special.
However, despite its somewhat uninspiring specifications, the TS-H552 turned out to be the second fastest drive I’ve ever tested, and if it wasn’t for the latest NEC drive (the ND-3540A), it would be king of the hill. Of course the NEC ND-3540A was helped along by its next generation DVD-RW specification; something that the Samsung didn’t benefit from. So all in all, the TS-H552 put in a very solid performance indeed.
And that really sums up this drive from Samsung – solid. There aren’t really any outstanding performances in evidence across all the tests, but what you can see from the graphs is that the TS-H552 turned in consistently good times across the board, whereas many drives I test tend to excel with some media and fall behind with other formats.
Let’s look at the DVD+R Dual Layer performance first. Here the Samsung turned in some pretty respectable times, but not quite as fast as the Toshiba SDR-5372 which was also rated at 5x.
Next there’s the DVD-R tests, and here the TS-H552 just flew. Every single result that the Samsung turned in was below six minutes, undercutting the competition by a significant margin. DVD+R performance wasn’t quite so impressive, but it was still consistently good and up there with the best of the competition.
The DVD-RW times were consistently good, with only the NEC ND-3540A putting the Samsung in the shade. But to be fair the NEC is a 6x DVD-RW drive while the Samsung is only rated at a more conservative 4x.
If you’re still burning a lot of CD media, you’re going to love this drive, with every test whether on CD-R or CD-RW media coming in under three minutes. What was surprising is that Nero reported the CD-R performance to be only 40x, despite the 48x specification, but looking at the results the drive was clearly writing at the faster rate. The CD-RW performance was reported correctly, and the drive just blazed through the format and the 600MB burn.
But despite the undeniably impressive performance shown by the TS-H552, I have to say that I am a little disappointed that the specifications are as conservative as they are. Most new drives are offering support for faster DVD+RW and DVD-RW writing, as the NEC ND-3540A showed. While both the NEC and Plextor PX-716A could also write to DVD-R Dual Layer media as well.
I had hoped that a new firmware flash would upgrade the TS-H552, but after downloading the latest firmware and installing it, the specifications stayed resolutely the same as before. This is a bit of a shame, especially since 6x DVD-RW and 6x DVD-R DL media is now available.
Samsung sent over the full retail version of the drive which shipped with an IDE cable, an audio cable, mounting screws, a quick setup guide, and a copy of Pinnacle Instand CD/DVD 8. Not a bad bundle, but I would rather have a copy of Nero in the box than the Pinnacle suite.
The drive itself looks fairly standard, finished in good old PC beige. There’s a single eject button, an indicator light and a manual eject hole. The fascia sports logos for DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW and CD-RW Ultra Speed +. I’ve never seen the Ultra Speed + logo before, but there’s no denying that this drive can burn CD media quickly, so whatever it does, it works.
When looking at the price, you have to remember that this is the retail box, so £42.29 isn’t too bad. Of course if you want just the bare drive, you should be able to pick it up for around the £30 mark, making the TS-H552 a pretty attractive proposition for anyone on a tight budget. But even taking this low price into account, for about £3 more you could have the NEC ND-3540A and get faster performance and better media support.
The Samsung WriteMaster TS-H552 is an undeniably fast drive, but its specs are the limiting factor. So, despite the solid and consistent performance, the lack of support for the latest media takes the shine of what could have been a great product.
Score in detail