DVD Burner - Liteon - DVDRW SOHW-1693S - My Experience

There are not many reviews about this drive. So I want to share my experience and I would like to know if other users have the same. I have S/N 441052814391 model SOHW-1693S23C manufactured July 2005. I have the lastest available firmware upgrade.

The drive burns DVDs and CDs without any problems - did not test DL and did not test at 16x. At least itself can read it. This is not true for other drives - but it depends on the media. Every burn shows many errors - but this depends on the media too. There are even huge differences between media of the same brand. I cannot pinpoint if it is the different quality of the media or just the mood of the writer. But I am wondering a bit about shown test results in so many reviews…

What “drives” me crazy is that the drive thinks about the speed it should use - this is a special feature. But I guess more they just wanted to get rid of the high noise at high speeds. It slows down a copy of for instance a video CD to the hard disk to 30 minutes. Thanks to tools like Nero Drive Speed you can increase the speed. You also could patch the drive software. But then you will lose the warranty. To put it straight: as delivered the drive is pretty useless. You should keep your old drive for high speed reading, patch the software (Warranty!!!), use a tool to speed it up or enjoy to watch your drive how it collects the disk data one by one - if it can…

The drive can write well but it cannot read. About 15 !!! percent of all CDs my 8 years old DVD-drive on my Thinkpad 770 can read the Liteon cannot. So far I tested about 150 CDs burned by other consumer writers (want to put them on DVDs). I can help myself using the network and the Thinkpad drive. If you do not have this choice you have lost your CDs if you kicked out your old drive already - what I did… By the way - the old Thinkpad drive copies the CDs in only 7 minutes! It does not think so much :wink:

The Liteon has a plug for an earphone and a wheel to adjust the volume. This makes it different to many other drives. But it is pretty much the same. It does not work. You just hear a click when you restart the system. But at least the drive looks different. Sure you might say - I use the sound card anyway. But why do they sell something that does not work at all??? I know it is only for audio CDs…

All in all I can say I would like to know the experience of other users before I return this drive. The reading speed and the reading quality of CDs is a serious problem. You might think it is bad luck. I think perhaps it is one of the best and there are worse out there. So I am not so happy to change it against the same brand. One time I had to change a DVD-drive 5 times to get a working one… It was my Thinkpad drive…what now has been working excellent for many years. Even if the keyboard, the hard disk, the screen, the case… but what can you expect from a notebook for only USD 8500 at this time.

But in any case - the quality control at Liteon seems not to exist or they simply accept this kind of quality as their standard… But we should not. This not working earphone plug should not happen and the reading quality should be better than that of a very old drive. There cannot be a minimum of quality control and this makes me think. Apart from the wasted time for finding alternative solutions for the problems I have to waste more money to go to the store 3 hours away and 3 hours back and change it - if they let me do it… And even then I am not sure that I will get a working drive or even a worse one. This is not a real option and I am thinking to put it to the scrap and buy a different brand what might be cheaper.

One great option I forget to mention. You can choose the color of your drive (white/black) by changeing the “Bezel Set”. But the problems still remain the same. I would rather choose - a working drive…

I have the same drive.
Absolutley no problem with it. :clap:

I am pretty sure that you do not have problems - you never tested the drive and just used it for YOUR purpose. For instance the speed for copying VCDs is unchangeable. They set it with their firmware and it is IMPOSSIBLE that your drive is different. So please read more carefully before you give the all clear to others.

i tested my drive and with the lite-on and nero i made an image of a vcd in ten minutes.It’s true!!

I agree with German. Liteon is running regular usually.

I believe you one more time :wink: But I cannot do the same. I guess the drive thinks it has to read a VCD for showing the movie. So it spins slowly. But it does not realize that I want to copy the data. The same is true for DVD. More than 8x for reading is just a wish. My old drive at my Thinkpad does the same or at a better speed. A further difference is that at the Thinkpad drive there is absolutely no noise - since I replaced the IBM hard disk by a better one - it was faulty anyway. This was a nightmare…can you hear me?

Anyhow - I am dissapointed by this drive. Most hurts me that I cannot read many CDs. With the speed you can wait. But in respect of reading you have lost. Sure - they are burned by consumer burners. But my old Thinkpad drive reads them without any problems - it was always my quality check…

Does the audio plug work at your drive?

yes the audio plug works fine.

Now after I have been using the 1693S for more than two months I just can reconfirm what I wrote two months ago. Sometimes you might get used to problems…

Again - this drive cannot read many CDs. I guess the 15 percent is a good number. My old Thinkpad drive reads those CDs without any problems - did not even realize that some CDs are different. The Liteon mostly shows nothing at all - SOMETIMES it shows at least the directory of the CD but has reading errors afterwards. And it thinks so long when you put a CD/DVD into the drive before it shows something with working media - this is a nightmare too. The startup of the whole WinXP seems to be faster but at least more interesting since this thinking blocks the computer :wink:

This drive cannot handle the reading spead. Copy a single video file from a VCD to the harddisk - it is extremely slow. Or I have a CD teaching a language. Here it is the other way round. It thinks it has a data CD and spins at full speed when this software is playing wav-files from this CD (for what 4x would be too fast). This sounds at this drive like a vacuum cleaner - you will not stand this very loud noice long. You WILL HAVE to look for a tool to make it spin slower. So this special feature of Liteon is pretty useless - it seems to be a bad joke. It does not realise what data transfer rate is necessary - just a simple formula to watch the buffer - what would make a real feature. But this drive simply seems to check the CDs data format (VCD, DATA, etc.) and that is the speed for the drive - what of course works for DVDs too. But if you use the CDs/DVDs in a different way or the format does not match exactly what Liteon has designed in many years of research :-))))))) - be prepared for problems.

In respect of writing quality I am not sure. What I see is that my old Thinkpad drive can read only BenQ DVD+R (with changed book type) burned on the Liteon. ALL other brands do not work - about 15 tested so far. I do not know if this is the writing quality of the drive. But in any case this is pretty useless. Imagine you burn many DVDs and one day you change the drive to a new one. You might have lost all your data. Or you burn videos and want to play them on a different player, or… And what I found on the Internet in respect of DVD DL seems to be even a bigger nightmare. So I am not sure if the drive is useless or the whole DVD burning approach has still a long way to go. Sure there are drives what can read more brands without problems (I just guess). You never know before you try… But in almost every case it is a faulty burning qualtiy if it does not work with almost all drives - if you were not looking for the cheapest media.

In respect of the audio plug and the volume wheel on the front of the drive I did not get further. It still does not work. And in addition to this somehow I am missing the buttons for play etc. what such drives normally have. Perhaps it was easier for them to leave it there from models long ago than to take this away. On the other hand they mention this as a special feature. Perhaps a left over too. Or I simply have a wrong understanding of this feature. But you will not use it normaly anyway. Just wondering what it is good for…this further special feature what the developement of Liteon was working so hard on… But in any case - your drive will never be like an Audio player in respect of sound quality. They do a bit more like over sampling etc.

To summarize: either the whole DVD burning story is like the first computers that came out - every usage a new experience/surprise or this drive simply does not support this DVD approach very much… And DL… better buy some beer for the money of the media…or burn your money directly over a flame ;-))) I am afraid before DVD DL works reliable we will have the new DVD format anyway already. This then working better? I do not believe…

stubenkastl, I have very similar experiences with you, it just can not read most of my CD, DVDs, very sad. I thought at the beginning it is due to the external enclosure i used (Neo N525U2-SL-NEC, NEC chipset), checked the retailer webpage, it should be compatible with 1693S no problem. Then I found your post. I can not return it to store now. Feel quite frustrated, haven’t tried upgrade the firmware, but don’t hope much at this moment.

If you consider the retail price of this drive and look at how complex it is, there are bound to be some bad drives out there. Go the LiteonIT website and upgrade to the latest firmware. If you have XP and have ever had any other CD/DVD burning software it may not be completely uninstalled and according to Liteon tech, Microsoft admits there is a registry issue with this. Apperantly you have to uninstall both, remove the registry entries and directories per the directions on the software manufacturers website and reinstall only one.

I had to go through all this before I could get to tier 2 tech support who just said, “Lets get you a RMA and get it replaced”. It’s not worth 15 minutes of their time to fool with it, and customer satisfaction is much more important. Just be patient and tell them everything you have already done to try to fix the problem.

The warrenty, per the RMA form is 12 months from purchase or 14 months from date of manufacture if you don’t have the receipt.

thanks for the information. today i am luncky that I went back to the retailer (it’s a few days over the 14 return period), told them wat happened, they agreed to change. best of all, seems it works from my incomplete test. reading and writing both tested once (forgot to say that the old one even refuse to write! unlike stubenkastl. So my impression now is that the old one is most probably a quality issue (it’s still possible that some odd combination of softwares make that one unhappy, but i tested in two computers, both out of luck). so lite-on, if they read this, i hope this is warning to them.
good luck everybody.

The firmware update does not help and the Liteon drive here at my location was more expensive then the BenQ 1640. A friend of mine has the BenQ drive and it works problem free. Before he had the same Liteon and ended up with pretty much the same experience. Because for me it is a huge act to replace the drive (bought it far away) I gave it up to use it for now. And you might not even be sure that the new one is not worse. I got tired of checking every single burned disk on an other DVD drive if it can be read what worked in case of both drives with only 1 brand of DVDs!!! And here again this brand was the 8x BenQ DVD+R disk - perhaps they really care about quality. And things like stated reading speeds on the Liteon box are a joke. It reads my DVDs just with 8x and if you have VCDs it takes more than 30 minutes to copy the about 600 MB VCD file to the HD. So forget it. But I realized that this burner age will have short legs anyway…

After this Liteon experience I ask myself for what people use their drives. I have now two 250 GB external USB harddisks what are mirrored. I can store there about 50 FULL DVDs what is a lot. What did I win? I do not have to wait endless until the write of the DVD and the data check is finished. I do not have to check them on an other drive if they are readable. And this for always two identical discs since you cannot trust those DVDs completely. I do not have to find out how many files fit on a DVD - I just copy to the HD what I want. I do not have to look for the DVD with certain data - I have them ALL at my fingertips. I do not have to burn a new DVD (or 2 in my case) if anything changed. I just replace the file/s. I do not have to carry a lot of DVDs with me - just take my HD AND can it use PROBLEM FREE at any other computer with USB - AND THIS FOR SURE. And I do not have the fear that when I have to buy a new DVD burner all or many of my disks might not be readable. What would be a nightmare since a have a lot of captured videos… And I like to use my computer as DVD player - it has hardware decoding and remote control.

So for me the Liteon was the beginning and the end of my DVD burning time. Somehow a good even if not cheap experience :wink: I know in the meantime very bad stories about useless DVDs with very important data - in those cases family videos. So let’s burn this idea like Nero burned Rom(e) :wink:

I also have the Liteon SOHW-1693S and going to exchange it for a NEC ND3550 which has the same features and is a few dollars cheaper. I’ve heard the NEC is more durable. I’m only interested in the drive that can burn the most DVD’s with the highest quality. The last Liteon I had was LDW-811S and it burned less than 200 DVD’s before all it started doing was coasters. Maybe the LDW series was just garbage and SOHW are better? Anyway, I’m going to try NEC. Anyone with NEC care to share your experiences? I don’t see many reviews out there on the ND3550A. Thanks.

My 1693S initially had the same problem with the earphone jack not working
when playing back audio CDs, and I later found that the firmware (version
KSOA) installed in at least some of the drives did not turn on the earphone
sound. You can verify which version you have by looking in your Windows
Device Manager under CDROM/Properties, and the new firmware flash that
updates this is version KSOB, downloaded as file DR16KS0B.zip (613 KB) from


Scroll down that page until you come to the section for the 1693S. I believe
this flash update just came out about a month ago (Oct. 2005). If you don’t
know how to flash update, the instructions are at


Given the “user community” that LiteOn has, i’m rather surprised that not many ppl have chimed in here…

…as it stands i’m in the market for a writer and my chocies are either the 1693S or the BenQ1640. I was leaning towards the 1693, but the topic poster’s comments have give me pause.

Hi Folks,

I too have a 1693S, on a system running Windows XP SP2. Currently I get around 50% hit rate on burning workable DVDs, as opposed to coasters. I have KS0B firmware installed and using Nero (I have tried Nero 6 as well). It is very frustrating but I will be persevering with trying different media as this could be part of the issue. I do seem to get better results with burning at lower speeds (x2) rather than burning at x8 - although Nero doesn’t always present me with the option of burning at the lower speeds - it seems to only present me with the speed of the disk and nothing less (any ideas?)



If you still have warranty bring back the drive. Look at this site


I can somehow see the philosophy of this company. Change the product name very often. There are companies that do a good job out there - without changing the product name so often - for whatever reason. They REALLY have WORKING products. I think that Liteon is working for Sony too. So Liteon might show up under different names.

Please can you help me.

I have two Lite-On HDD DVD recorders linked to one Sony TV. ( KV-28LS60U )
My problem is that each of the two remote controls gives the same command to both recorders.

Is there some simple way that I can control each recorder
seperately with each of the two remotes ??

I’m sorry to hear issues with 1693s. I have had my drive since 2005. It has worked flawlessly. I have burned hundreds of discs with it. I have read hundreds of discs as well. To this day it is one of my best burners. I have seven in total. I’ve had all brands over the years. I had not had the best experience with Lite-On CD burners in the past. I remember a 48x Lite-On burner only lasting 3 months outside of warranty. So my experience with my 16XX series drives was a pleasant surprise.

Currently my 1653s and 1693s are wonderful. I currently use my Samsung SH-182M and my Lite-Ons regularly. I don’t use my 165P6S as much. My Plextor PX-716SA is rather useless. I find quality leaves a bit to be desired with all types of media. Also with PowerRec on I can’t burn above 12x, it drops back to 8x most times. With PowerRec disabled I get unwatchable DVD burns when burned at 16x. One thing I have noted about my 1693s it provides great burns on Ritek DL D01 media. My other drives don’t even come close to the same quality of burn on the same media.

I bought my SOHW-1693S in September of 2005. I am just a few weeks shy of 4 years on this drive. I have burned at least 400 DVDs and at least twice that amount of CDs. And I can not begin to count the amount of rips that it has done. Flawless operation with the exception of 5 bad DVDs burns that I found was caused by one of those white form rings that came/come on the top of spindle packs of disks stuck inside the drive. I ended up here only because I was looking for someplace online that still carries these drives. No such luck.