Optical Drives getting worse, or holding their own?



As the DVD manufacturing waned, some drives were considered lesser than their predecessors. Pioneer, Sony, Liteon - probably others switched to cheapest possible internals on their last few models, it seems. More plastics nistead of metals, and a lesser chipset.

Is there a percenption that BluRay has done the same? Are Pioneer 209s considered lesser than the 207s, for example? Are the LG 12s cnosidered better than the latest 14s and 16s?


From the Pioneer 206 on, burning quality has been considered to have gotten marginally worse.

For the LG drives, burning quality was considered to be excellent on older drives, and merely “very good” on newer drives.

But writing quality’s still considered very good for both brands’ latest drives, and steps all over the quality of the last LiteOn BD drives (and the drives don’t seem to suffer from firmware quirks, unlike Samsung’s last few drives).

Some folks have been very concerned about the lifetime of their LG 14x and 16x drives, but while large online retailers will definitely have reviews regarding the premature death of their drives, I would still say it’s a moderate negative over older drives. So build quality probably has taken a turn for the worse, but not so much that 50% of the drives will immediately fail.

Similar could probably be said for Pioneer drives. It helps that some of Pioneer’s drives (ones meant for the Japanese market) are marketed as premium options while sharing the same base design with the rest of the lineup, so the base drive design is probably good enough to keep build quality from being a concern.

So while there’s no guarantee that a drive won’t break, there’s almost no reason to recommend going for an older BDRE drive model over a new one when it comes to LG and Pioneer.

In the grand scheme of things, LiteOn’s most popular BDRE line (with 12x BD-R burning capability) also seems to have had a decent lifespan, though the sheer number of them in existence seems to lend its hand to us knowing about a problem where some drives’ lasers wear out quickly if used as a primary workhorse. But the jump from 4x to 12x (LiteOn’s prior drive was a 4x model) combined with an attempt to reduce cost and produce units for upwards of 6 different brands probably results in some questionable hardware being put out there. (Other brands transitioned through more speeds, such as 6x, 8x, and/or 10x before hitting 12x models, 14x models, 15x models, and 16x models, so R&D was probably a bit more difficult for LiteOn with its last model.)

I have no idea what Samsung’s problem is with firmware. Unless trying to work with reduced RAM and storage to hold the firmware directly contributed to them having bugs because they had to do full rewrites to handle the smaller confines, there’s no real explanation for some of the bugs. And some of the bugs persist to this day. The hardware otherwise seems fine, but they’ve focused on slim drives in the last few years.


I actually think the Pioneer 208 has a better write quality than the 206. It’s not good Pioneer didn’t work on the 206 write strategies, the latest available firmware is 1.06 dated 2011.


Thanks for all of this. I suspect there hasn’t been a giant step-down by switching to a low-cost low-end chipset with the BluRay drives for the past 2-3 years, and quality is more based on assembly processes.

Or maybe there are no longer a large quantity of garages willing to bid on BD drive assemblies like there were for DVDs where every Singapore and Shanghai alley had umpteen assemblers. It was like Starbucks on all four corners, in places.

I wonder if all of those converted to iPhone knockoffs?

(OINKER, could you re-state this line:

[I][B]It’s not good Pioneer didn’t work on the 206 write strategies… [/B][/I]

because it’s probably got a typo in there, and I’m not sure what is meant other than “no FW updates since 2011”.)


Yep, I meant just that - no firmware updates since (I think) June 2011, although the 206 1.06 write strategies still need improvement. The 208 actually showed what’s possible with e.g. CMCMAGBA5 used by Verbatim, Sony and Panasonic BD-Rs also have better results with the 208 (although pretty good with the 206 already). And Verbatim LTH strategies could be improved in general.