The GGW-H10N is a SATA device, making it ideal for future-proofing. In spite of having just a single spindle, the GGW-H10N will read any format of disc currently available, including HD DVD and Blu-ray. It reads both single and dual-layer discs of all formats, including HD DVDs at 3x. It reads CD-ROMs at 32x.
Impressively, it also writes to almost all formats of disc, with the exceptions of DVD-RAM and HD DVD, although nothing presently on the market writes to the latter.
For Blu-ray writing, the LG GGW-H10N stacks up well against the drives we’ve seen so far at 4x for single-layer discs. Devices such as the Pioneer BDR-101A are capable of writing at only 2x, and some, such as the Pioneer and an earlier LG effort, the GBW-H10N, weren’t capable of writing to dual-layer Blu-ray discs at all. In practice, the GBW-H10N took 31 minutes to fill a single-layer (25GB) Blu-ray disc, and a rather more toe-tapping 37 minutes to fill a single-layer rewritable disc, a task it performs at 2x. But the GGW-H10N handles legacy formats rather more poorly – humble CD-Rs are written at just 16x, and filling one in our tests took 15 minutes.
The drive’s flexibility is its key. It comes with a full version of PowerDVD, which works with DVD, HD DVD and Blu-ray, and the fact you can write to almost any disc is a massive plus to any professional video studio producing high-definition content and struggling with the limitations of current optical storage. But if you’re simply concerned about being able to watch HD DVD and Blu-ray films if one format disappears in a few years, $930 is still a lot to spend on what remains a niche product. Nevertheless, plenty of credit should go to LG for attempting to break the current stalemate.
A hint of things to come, but the first HD DVD and Blu-ray combo drive is very expensive.