LG Super Multi Blue GGW-H20L

The format war may be over but you don’t need to be a victim with this new drive from LG.

The format war is over. The winner – and loser – has been declared. Now that the whole issue is done and dusted, we can all settle down to burn a nice big Blu-ray. In fact, this format war sorted itself out a lot better than the last one, what with all those choices between DVD writeable formats like DVD+R/RW, DVD-R/RW, DVD-RAM, and the dual layer formats which always bugged me with their exhausting prices.

But what if you actually were an early adopter of the HD DVD standard? What if you’ve got a lot of data you want to back up in one big hit?

Well, LG have something that might just fit into your PC.

The LG GGW-H20L is a new optical disc rewriter (which is the fancy way of saying “burner”) that aims to be your replacement optical drive.

Why will it be your replacement drive? Well, it reads CD’s, DVD’s, Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs. That means that in this one little bundle of compact plastic disc goodness, you get the ability to play more or less every consumer-friendly digital format that you’re likely to have ever seen.

Then the drive goes on to be able to burn CD’s, DVD’s, Lightscribe and Blu-ray discs. So already we have a component that lets you play every format but now you can burn every currently accepted format. In case you had no idea of how much this drive can burn in one sitting, it can handle the 650-800 megabyte capacity of CD’s, approximately 4.5 gigabytes found on DVD-R/RW and DVD+R/RW, 8.5 gigabytes seen in dual-layer DVD’s, and then the beast of them all, 25 and 50 gigabyte Blu-ray discs.

And it can even burn the 25 gigabyte discs at 6x speed. Most Blu-ray burners on the market today have problems getting above 2.4x. Take that other Blu-ray burners. Mrow.

I myself tested a 25GB Blu-ray burn of a bunch of my photos. Normally, I’d have to go through 6 DVD’s to get the same sort of action, but in one sitting, I was able to back up 25 gigs of pictures. Simple. Easy. The way it was meant to be.

In fact, backing up on to a Blu-ray disc has another catch that’s pretty good as Blu-ray discs feature a back that is more or less scratch resistant. A bit of education for you, if I may: the bottom part of a piece of recordable media is usually made from a chemical compound. In the case of Blu-ray, TDK made the layer to be resistant to being scratched by a screwdriver. The layer is called Durabis and is a feature on Blu-ray discs.

So the cool thing here is that by backing up onto Blu-ray discs as well as buying Blu-ray movies, you’re basically rendering the problem of having scratches on your discs a thing of the past.

Now that you know that the LG GGW-H20L can burn these media types, you should also know what it comes with. The drive, which requires a spare SATA port on both your power supply and motherboard, comes packaged with a bunch of Cyberlink software, featuring a version of the PowerDVD software package not produced anymore that has the ability to play HD DVD’s. This is beneficial to those of us who invested early or are now taking advantage of the cheaper prices as HD DVD titles begin to diminish. You also get Power2Go and PowerProducer 4 which give you the “power” – to coin the term – to burn your files quickly and easily.

The drive was very simple to install and the faceplate sports a slick glossy black with faint lines finish. It’s very attractive but if you’re looking to remove the faceplate, all I have to say is good luck. I couldn’t get it off to see if it could and I would suggest leaving it on.

If you’re planning to watch high definition movies from HD DVD and Blu-ray, you might need a new video card. In the case of ATI, this means grabbing an ATI x1950 or at least something from the 2000 series of cards. Anything beyond it is fine including the current 4870 which was just released. Likewise on the Nvidia front, you’ll need a minimum of a 7800 card and anything up to the recent 9800 and 280 cards will serve HD DVD and Blu-ray just fine.

In the end, I found the LG Super Multi Blue GGW-H20L to be an excellent piece of hardware. In reviewing the drive, I liked it so much that I actually went and bought one.

Yes, it’s that good.

Product: LG GGW-H20L

Vendor: LG

RRP: $699

Website: LG Electronics Australia

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark