Samsung SH-B022 Blu-ray Disc writer
Blu-ray finally arrives - does it live up to the hype?
The single 12.7GB file took 25m 31s to write, so it'll take roughly twice that to fill up the whole disc. Doing the same test, but with the separate files - 4,486 of them - took slightly longer, 26m 29s. So we're back to the having to wait an hour or so to burn a full disc.
I was rather disappointed when I found out that the review sample didn't offer DVD or CD writing abilities. Now, I could've lived with the fact that it couldn't write to CD, as this is a rather old technology in comparison, but the lack of DVD support seems just plain odd. Still, this was an early prototype and things may very well change by the time the product is launched. Samsung was showing off the same drive at CeBIT, but this one was clearly labelled as having DVD writing capabilities, which is promising.
So what about the BD media? Well, the BD-RE disc looked very much like a CD, but it had a dark grey surface which didn't look very reflective. Smudging it with finger prints didn't result in any problems reading the data, so there doesn't seem to be any need to worry about minor marks corrupting the densely packed data.
Samsung hasn't even set a price on the drive, although I was told it was likely to end up in the $800-900 category - ouch. It's claimed that HD DVD will be cheaper, but for now we'll just have to bide our time and wait until retail products hit the shelves. It's also worth taking into account that dual-layer media will be available later this year with 50GB of storage capacity, so unless you have the cash to spare and you don't mind being an early adopter, you might just want to wait until then.
Finally, there's the issue of what you can use a Blu-ray drive for. Sure you can store 25GB of files on it, but you can't play it back in anything else than your own drive, unless your mates are as wealthy as you. Living-room BD players should be able to handled video discs you've authored, but HD DVD players won't, at least not for the time being. There are far too many question marks about Blu-ray as a consumer technology, but the good news is that it's as easy to use as a DVD writer as long as you're only after a high-capacity storage medium.
It's early days of Blu-ray, and the Samsung SH-B022 is the first drive to make an appearance outside company labs and beyond the exhibition stands. Hopefully Samsung will make some improvements before retail products become available - in particular, ensuring it will at least support DVD writing. ®
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