by Neama Esmaili

Lite-On iHAS524 24X Internal DVD Writer with LabelTag Review

Lite-On recently sent us their latest internal DVD writer, the iHAS524. While we normally don't get too jazzed up about DVD burners, this one has a unique twist, LabelTag.  LabelTag works with any standard optical storage disc to burn data and create a label in the same session - very interesting and much neater than a marker. 

Lite-On iHAS524

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Lite-On iHAS524 Specs

  • DVD Write
    • DVD+/-R 24X maximum by CAV
    • DVD+/-R DL 16X maximum by CAV
    • DVD-RAM 12X maximum by CAV
  • DVD ReWrite
    • DVD+RW 8X
    • DVD-RW 6X
  • DVD Read 16X
  • DVD Access time 160ms
  • CD Write
    • CD-R 48X
  • CD ReWrite
    • CD-RW 32X
  • CD Read 48X
  • CD Access time 140ms
  • Buffer Size 1.5MB(MAX)
  • HDD must have access time < 20 ms; with a minimum of 650MB free space
  • 9GB free space for creating a DVD image file (9GB for double layer; 5GB for single layer)
  • MTBF (Life) 70000POH
  • S/N Ration > 75dB
  • Operating 5°C to 50°C; Relative Humidity: 15% to 80%
  • Non-Operating -40°C to 65°C; Relative Humidity: 15% to 95%
  • Dimension 146(W) x 41.3(H) x 170(D) mm
  • Weight < 0.9Kg
  • Voltage Requirements
    • +5V +/-5% and less than 100 mVp-p ripple voltage
    • +12V +/-10% and less than 200 mVp-p ripple voltage

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In Use

I tested various media to get a feel for the read/write speeds of this drive. For this portion of the review I used Nero Disc Speed, a free download available from Nero's website. Keep in mind that read/write speeds can vary depending on the maximum limits of the type of disc used.

Using a DVD+RW disc with a max write speed of 2.4x, the drive was able to obtain consistent maximum write speeds (green line):

Read speads for this disc were able to reach the maximum read time of the drive with an average of 12x:

Here are the read/write speed tests using a DVD+R with a max write speed of 8x:

The average write speed was 7.52X, very close to the 8x maximum

The maxmium read speed was 12x,with an average of 12.07X.

Here are the read/write speed test results using a CD-R disc with maximum write speed of 32X:

The write speed averaged 36.4X.

Maximum read speed was 49X with an average of 37.08.

Overall, the performance was within reach of stated speeds, delivering as expected. 

LabelTag

This drive also has the ability to label discs during the burning process. Many drives feature LightScribe, which allows for direct disc labeling by the drive itself when using specially made LightScribe media. The iHAS524 uses the next stage, a technology called LabelTag. This allows users to create a circular label on the data side of a regular DVD +/-R disc, with no special media required. However, with LabelTag, only the data side of the disc can be labeled and you can't use CD-R, CD or DVD rewriteable discs.

Below you can see what a LabelTag creation looks like. I used a standard DVD-R disc.

Here is what a typical LightScribe meda looks like:

Because LabelTag uses the data side of the disc, the labeling doesn't have as much contrast compared to a LightScribe capable disc, mainly because LightScribe media uses a special coating on the front of the disc. Another limitation of LabelTag is that area available to label is limted to how much space is left on the disc. For instance, if you record a small amount of data, then you will have a larger area to label. If your disc is completely full, then you will not be able to label at all. With LightScribe capable drives, this is not a problem, since only the top side is used for labeling, but of course specialized media is required. 

Conclusion

Overall, I thought the iHAS524 drive was a capable drive. From a read/write standpoint, this drive offers good performance. The LabelTag feature is unique, allowing for creating, burning and labeling of standard DVD+/-R disc in one continuous session without having to spend extra money on special media. However, keep in mind that this drive can only label the data side of the disc and you can only use DVD+/-R discs for this feature. Also, you are limited to how much you can label based on how much disc space is avaiable.  If these limitations are a dealbreaker for you then a LightScribe drive may be a better fit.  

With an MSRP of $39.99, we find the Lite-On iHAS524 an attractive option for those looking for a internal DVD writer with labeling capabilities for basic archiving without the added cost of using special media.

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