Thought I’d post some observations of my new Liteon, a SHW-160P6S. It was sold as an I/O Magic drive, Staples has them on sale at the moment although they also package BTC, a Benq DQ60, and, in rare cases at this point, a Benq 1620. It’s my first Liteon DVD Burner after having been less impressed with them in comparison to the performance of NEC and Benq burners. Unfortunate as I’ve had a couple of Liteon CD Burners and they were great CD Burners, and I also have a Liteon DVD-ROM drive that has done well. Seems as though earlier Liteons can be improved quite a bit with hacked firmware/write strategies, unfortunately that option is not available as of yet for this drive. So my observations are from the standpoint of someone that’s been very impressed by Benq and NEC drives.
I’ve only done a few burn tests at this point, I would consider its overall burn performance to be average so far, hopefully some improvement occurs after I’ve put a few more discs through it. I have used a few different media codes, from cheap chinese media to fairly good everyday media to TY T02, which burns as well as anything around.
I immediately updated the firmware to PS08. First test was to see how it would do with a cheaper -R disc, a good test as lesser burners often create horrible results with cheaper media. Playo brand 8x rated -R, UME01 media code, burned at 8x. The result is better than I expected from the Liteon, almost as good as my results with my 1640, although the jitter levels are higher:
Another test with cheap Playo discs, this time with the +R discs, AML002 8x, the Liteon only allows burning up to 6x with these discs. Suprisingly good for being cheap Chinese media, my results in my Benq drives is very good with PIF levels around 1000 and low PI levels and good jitter levels. The results are so-so, PIF max is similar to my NEC and Benq drives but PIF totals are at least double, PI levels are good, better than my NEC, not as good as my Benq. Jitter is very poor though, an average of almost 11% is awful, they get around 8% in my other drives.
Third test was with Optodisc OR8, 8x rated media burned at 8x, these are actually very good discs in my burners, but I have one batch of them that is much worse than the others at the edge of the discs where the error levels start rise regardless of burner, I tested a disc from that batch to see if it could match the other burners or if it struggled at the edge of the disc. The result is good for this batch of discs, very similar to the burns that I get in my NEC and Benq burners, with slightly higher jitter levels as before. This batch burns excellent until you get towards the edge, the other batches I’ve used burn well to the edge:
Next test, Teon branded CMC E01 8x discs at 8x, these Teon branded E01s don’t burn as well as my HP, Memorex, Philips, TDK branded CMCs but they still burn pretty well in my NEC and Benq drives. Another good test IMO as some drives have very poor firmware support/write strategies for CMC media. The result is not terrible, but it’s alot worse than the results I get using my NEC and Benq burners. I typically get 600-1000 PIF in my other burners, jitter around 8%, and PI max from 8-20. While it’s a useable result, it looks as though the write strategy is poor. Perhaps the results will improve after a few more burns, I’ll have to see how it does and post back if I see reasonable improvements.
The last test I’ve done up to this point is a Fuji TY T02 8x +R, burned at 8x. These are generally accepted as some of the best burning discs around, and my experiences with them in my Benq and NEC burners have confirmed that as well. Typical burns in those drives is PIF max 4 or less (in a Benq) with totals usually under 200, PI max 8 or less, jitter levels below 8%. The results with the Liteon are poor IMO for being such good discs. The PIF totals are decent and PIF max are decent even though there are a few taller spikes for T02, BUT the jitter levels are horrible at 11% average and the PI levels are horrible for T02 as well. Although the primary concern is PIF max and totals, lower is, of course, better when it comes to PI and that is poor. And jitter is unacceptable for being TY at its rated speed. While not high enough to likely cause any problems, jitter CAN be a serious problem if it’s high enough and if it was much higher it could pose a problem in some players. Again, hopefully the results will improve with additional burns, I expect that they will so this initial test may not amount to much after all is said and done.
Another observation I’ve made - From what I’ve read, I’ve been led to believe that the most current Liteon drives are suitable for PI/PIF testing with ‘accurate’ results (I use that term loosely with PI/PIF tests) at 8x in addition to the 4x ‘standard’ of the older Liteons. But after performing tests on the T02 disc at 8x and 4x on the Liteon and comparing the results, it’s clear to me that this drive is NOT as well suited for 8x testing as it is at 4x testing. Clearly the 8x test from the Liteon tells a much different story than the 4x Liteon and 8x Benq do, and considering the similarities between the 8x Benq and 4x Liteon, I don’t know that this drive is well suited for 8x testing. I did one other comparison scan of an 8x Liteon and 8x Benq scan and the results were fairly similar, but the 8x T02 test has me in doubt of the Liteon’s ‘accuracy’ at 8x scans for comparisons with the scans of other drives.
4x Liteon test, very similar overall vs. the 8x Benq test.
8x Liteon test, both PI and PIF levels are far more elevated and give a much worse impression of the disc than the other two tests do.
My conclusion so far is about the same as it was before owning a Liteon: It does well in some regards, but did not impress in others, especially coming from a user of NEC and Benq burners. I expect that the quality will improve after further burns, but how much, we shall see. I know that this is not the end all test of a drive and that some of the media I used was cheaper media, but I find them good tests for comparison to see how a drive can handle less than perfect media. And then there’s the issue of burning incompatible DVD-Rs that don’t play back properly in standalone players, there’s absolutely no excuse for putting out drives with such a serious flaw, and then to not even fix it after at least 2 new firmware releases. I haven’t actually tested this -R issue with mine yet, but I’m expecting it to exist. From reading about Liteon drives, I’ve always been of the opinion that they often CAN be very good burners if they have decent firmware and appropriate write strategies are used, but it seems as though Liteon may have monkeys for firmware developers on their staff. If average Joe noob can do a write strategy swap to improve burn quality, why can’t Liteon do the same and put out better firmware? All in all, it’s an average burner so far, but the Benq and NEC burners I’ve used are a definite improvement, the newer Benqs in particular. Ok, I’ll shut up now.
P.S. - I plan on posting a few more scans over the next few days for further comparisons and to see if the burns of the same media codes improve with further burns.