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Samsung SH-B123

Samsung SH-B123 internal 12x BD-Rom drive

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Review Some feel that optical media is dying in favour of digital distribution, however, in this world of high definition content there are still those who'd rather not abandon shiny plastic discs and hence, we have Blu-ray. This is not to say that Blu-Ray is not an important development in digital optical media technology, a 50GB dual layer disc is a fair improvement over the 700MB maximum capacity of a standard compact disc. Ah yes, remember, those things from the 20th century that people used to buy music on?

Samsung SH-B123

Combo session: Samsung's SH-B123

With the Samsung SH-B123 internal optical drive, the company lays claim to it being the fastest BD-Rom on the market with a blazing 12x read speed, along with low power consumption and reduced noise. The DVD±R read/write speeds are 16x with dual layer discs notching up half that for writing and 12x for reading.

Part of the deal is this package can also upscale DVDs. However, this is a feature of the Cyberlink PowerDVD 9 software suite included with the SH-B123. Whilst the TrueTheater HD feature does improve the picture quality, it is not restricted to the work only with the Samsung drive. So I gave it a go with Saving Private Ryan on DVD, along with my old Pioneer DVR-111D DVD±RW drive for comparison.

With the DVR-111D, the standard quality playback was identical to the SH-B123, but surprisingly, the ancient Pioneer drive produced a sharper image, although some might argue it’s a tad too grainy. Whilst Samsung’s new drive does produce a noticeably better-than-average picture using TrueTheater HD – when compared to the results with the DVR-111D – it does appear softer with slightly lower contrast. Have a gander for yourself, the left side of the image is DVD standard quality and the right hand side has been upscaled.

Samsung SH-B123

Samsung SH-B123: normal DVD playback (left) upscaled image (right)
Click for a larger image

Samsung SH-B123

Pioneer DVR-111D: normal DVD playback (left) upscaled image (right)
Click for a larger image

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