We thought Blu-ray movies looked pretty good on our TV but they looked and sounded fantastic on a computer. BD-Live features were actually easier to operate from a PC too, especially with those that require you to register your details. CyberLink's ubiquitous PowerDVD makes an effective movie player for both Blu-ray and DVD, even if its interface is unnecessarily fiddly. We experienced no slipping, catching or sync problems at all.
The drive comes supplied with user-swappable fascias: choose between silver or black
The other programs included in the Suite are: Power2Go (burning data files to discs), Power Producer (putting video and pictures on CD and DVD), Power Director (making home movies), Power Backup (back and restore utility), Photo Now! (basic photo correction and enhancement) and Label Print (printing disc labels and insert cards).
Also included was Instant Burn, a system tray utility that allows you to copy files to rewritable discs in real time, as if they were conventional media, by keeping their sessions open. Despite the complexity of software, the Suite is presented using a task-based interface, so you just pick a task and let the Suite determine which program to launch.
Label Print was notable for integrating with the iHES208's LightScribe support. So, as well as being useful for printing stick-on CD labels, the software can etch the same label information onto the top surface of LightScribe media. The process is slow (graphic designs with picture backgrounds can take 20 minutes or so) but the results are more durable than stick-on labels and direct print-on CDs.
We found certain other programs in the Suite to be less compelling. Photo Now! and Power Backup, for example, are only likely to get used if you have no alternative. Power Director and Producer, however, although a bit plain in appearance, are very effective programs for domestic users wanting to get their home movies onto DVD without too much effort.
While the ability to write to Blu-ray media remains a high-end aspiration for most of us for some time to come, this iHES208 combo drive is just the trick to fill the gap. The £110 price tag looks a tad expensive at first, but the wide versatility of the hardware and the unexpected generosity in the software bundle make it decent value – for the time being. ®
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If the bundle is the same as everywhere else, the powerdvd is stereo-only, which is pretty much useless for HTPC.
BD writing sounds cool but as long as the media costs like 5€/pop, it's just not worth it. And the time the prices come to around 1€/disc, these writers are real dinosaurs.
not such good value
equivelent LG is only £80 and LG with Blue ray writing is only £148, so this isn't such great value
I presume you mean the software is Windows only?
Technically the drive will still function on Linux as a DVD-RW drive for playback and recording of DVDs and reading of Bluray discs. Actually it's also possible with Nero for Linux to also burn Blu-Ray media. The only thing missing from Linux at the moment is on the fly Blu-ray playback (although it is possible to rip a BD movie and play it back).
I picked up an LG GGCH20L Blu-ray combo drive from PC World for about £80, which reads everything (including HD-DVD) and writes to everything except Blu-ray and HD-DVD.
Seems like a better deal than this drive, unless this drive also writes to Blu-ray, though the Blu-ray writer version of the LG drive (GGWH20L) is only about £125.
£110 for a BD reader? For an extra 20 quid, why not just splurge on an LG BH08LS20 and let you write as well? OK, it won't give you Lightscribe, but is that really a killer feature?
Fair enough that it's SATA only though. In my experience, any rig that didn't have SATA connectors probably wouldn't be up to the job of displaying 1080p anyway.