Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lite-On iHAP422 DVD+R Burner

Rating: 1 out of 5
Pros: Works great - when it works at all
Cons: Four out of five were junk. Steer clear

I've purchased a number of Lite-On products over the years, especially when it comes to optical drives. I've had good luck with them in general, always working as expected and lasting a long time. However, I was disappointed in both of the last two optical drive models I purchased from them and have since switched brands. Now I don't expect a lot from my DVD burners - I just want them to burn my DVDs and dual layer discs correctly while not costing me an arm and a leg. Oh, and they have to hold up, which was unfortunately not the case with the iHAP422 drive from Lite-On.
 
I actually had ordered five of these iHAP422 drives in total, and two of them didn't work correctly right from the start. The very first drive I installed was really loud and kept making a grinding noise - I was worried about it possibly ruining any discs I inserted, but it turns out I didn't have to worry because it wouldn't spin the discs anyway. Junk, sent it back. Two more of the drives weren't any better as the trays would not open or close on their own. Of the two remaining drives, one is still working fine today and the other has since stopped opening most of the time. Once in a while it'll decide to open after pressing the button a dozen times, but usually it just sits there mocking me. It was really disappointing to have so many of these drives fail and need returned, as I could have took the money I spent on return shipping and bought a different brand of optical drive. One fully functional drive out of five is mighty disconcerting.
 
The Lite-On iHAP422 features a 2mb cache buffer and connects via IDE/PATA. That's the main reason I picked up these drives, because I needed to replace some CD drives in older computers with some newer DVD burners - but none of the older computers had SATA ports. It will burn DVD+R and DVD-R at 22x speeds, dual layer discs at 8x and DVD-RAM at 12x. It will burn rewritable DVD+RW at 8x and DVD-RW at 6x speeds, and read DVD-ROMs at 16x. For CDs, it will read and write at 48x and rewrite at 32x. It also sports a 140ms random access time for CDs and 160ms time for DVDs. Overall the read and write speeds were nearly the same as the ASUS drive I have in my main computer and the LG drive I have in the other computer that I use most often.
 
System requirements include a Pentium 4 1.3GHz or faster CPU, 128MB of system RAM and enough hard drive capacity to hold the disc image that you want to burn. The drive is compatible with Microsoft Windows® 2000/XP/Vista, as well as Windows 7 and Linux despite them not being listed on the package or the product's website. I imagine it works equally well in a Mac, though I have no way of verifying that. The iHAP422 will operate in temperatures ranging from 5ºC to 35ºC between 10% and 80% humidity, and can be stored in temperatures from -40ºC to 65ºC at 10% to 90% humidity.
 
The iHAP422 also has support for the Lightscribe direct disc labeling system, allowing you to flip the disc over in the drive and burn an image onto the surface (providing you buy the special Lightscribe discs). It works well enough after you download the software from lightscribe.com, and the two-tone gold and black images you can print look so much better than using a marker or a printed label. I really like this feature even though I don't use it often. It was really handy to have when I pieced together a 50th anniversary video for my grandparents though.
 
The drive fits in a standard half-height 5.25" drive bay, is about 6.7" long and weighs around one pound. It's a fairly plain looking black drive with the standard assortment of white Lightscribe/DVD/RW/CD decals printed on the front of the tray (there is also a white version available with black decals). Installation was a breeze as usual using the four included screws and an IDE cable that was not included, and it was automatically detected and usable in Windows 7, Windows XP and Linux Mint 7 without needing any sort of driver installation.
 
My drive came bundled with Nero 8 software for disc burning, which I promptly tossed in the trash and used the freeware Imgburn software instead. I've never had any sort of problems with the drive burning coasters or failing to read discs, at least for the one drive that worked like it was supposed to. It has burned videos, audio CDs and data discs all equally well, including dual layer DVDs full of system backups. If I didn't receive so many broken drives I would have been very pleased with this one.
 
Overall the one drive was pretty good quality and I was happy with it, but the other four were total junk making this drive about useless overal. One drive that works correctly out of 5 means this is getting a 1 star rating.

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