Samsung Writemaster SH-S162
LightScribe capable DVD writer
By John Virata
Samsung has over the years consistently put out solid DVD burners for the PC. The company's latest release, the Writemaster SH-S162 extends the line with some speed improvements while adding some interesting technology to the mix. The drive, which retails for around $70 features dual layer burning capabilities as well as the capability to write labels, photos and designs directly on the top portion of the disc thanks to the incorporation of LightScribe technology.
The Writemaster SH-S162 can record up to 9 DVD formats, including DVD+R and DVD-R media at 16X, DVD+RW at 8X and double layer DVD+R at 8X, dependent on the speed rating of the media. Supported disc formats are DVD-RAM, DVD+R, DVD+R DL, DVD+RW, DVD-R, DVD-R DL, DVD-RW, Light Scribe DVD±R, Light Scribe CD-R, DVD-ROM, DVD-Video, CD-R, CD-RW, CD-ROM, CD-ROM/XA, CD-Audio, Video-CD, Photo CD, CD-I(FMV), CD-Extra, and CD-TEXT.
LightScribe technology, which was developed by Hewlett Packard, focuses light energy onto a thin dye coating found on the LightScribe media to create an embedded label into the media. HP began shipping LightScribe enabled drives last year along with other companies that licensed the technology. To test the LightScribe feature, I downloaded a copy of SureThing CD Labeler Deluxe Trial version, a LightScribe compatible CD/DVD labeler that enables you to create all manner of CD labels, jewel box covers, and the like. There were a few LightScribe images that came with the trial as well as some standard images. I also used images to see how the device output photographic images. The process is to burn LightScribe labels is very simple. Before or after you burn the data that you want to burn to disc, you can burn the LightScribe side of the disc first. After you burn the LightScribe side, the other side is available for the data. While there is no color, the image quality of the LightScribe-burned images is acceptable at best. The upside is that you won't have to try and stick labels on CD/DVD media any more if you burn to LightScribe media. You will get better image quality with a inkjet printer that can print directly on inkjet printable CD/DVD media. The media itself is just a few dollars more than non-LightScribe media. A 10 pack of Memorex LightScribe DVD+R media, which I used to test with the Samsung, was $14 at the local Micro Center. Other brands will probably be less expensive.
The Writemaster SH-S162 performs fairly competently in the DMN 8GB burn test. Using 2.4X verbatim DL media, the drive finished an 8GB burn in 43 minutes. Using Verbatim 16X DVD-R media, the drive finished a 4.32GB data burn in 6 minutes 27 seconds. So it is right up there with other similarly speed rated drives.
The Writemaster SH-S162 has several features that help make it stand out from the crowd. It supports nine DVD formats, including the LightScribe formats. LightScribe is a very interesting format in that it obviates the need for a disc labeling scheme, as well as the need for an inkjet printer that is capable of writing to CD/DVD media. The downside to LightScribe is the etched in imagery is not as bright as what you'd get with an inkjet printer. On the other hand, you don't need to mess with disc stompers and such which prove to be more troublesome than the paper that they are supposed to stomp. The look of LightScribe is very professional, but too light for my taste. Perhaps if the media ingredients were somehow enhanced to make for darker imagery I would appreciate it more. Another cool feature is the cost. For around $70 you get a full featured drive that supports all the major DVD formats. The price itself makes it worthy of consideration when adding or upgrading a DVD drive. For more information, visit www.samsung.com