HTPC’s are becoming more and more popular these days because there are so many things that they are capable of doing, from streaming movies and TV shows to listening to your audio files. The main feature of the HTPC though is probably watching movies on DVD and now Blu Ray. I have recently purchased the LiteOn iHOS104-08 Blu Ray drive for an incredible price of just $64.99.
Blu Ray has really moved into the mainstream market now and with adoption rates increasing, the price of hardware is coming down and LiteOn has delivered a cracker. Now in all honesty the LiteOn iHOS104-08 is by no means a top of the line Blu Ray drive, in fact it is only a ROM (Read Only Memory), which means you cannot do any burning of any files whatsoever, so if you are building a pc from scratch you might want to look at a different drive that has those capabilities. If you already have a computer that has a DVD drive and just want to add Blu Ray capabilities to your HTPC then this LiteOn Drive is the one for you.
The LiteOn iHOS104-08 drive is an easy, no frills way of moving into the high definition era. It is cheap, easy to install and very easy to use. In the box you will find the drive itself, a SATA cable, 4 mounting screws and Cyberlink Power DVD9. Blu ray drives on PC’s do require additional software as Media center does not support Blu Ray as of yet, so this is a nice inclusion. The drives specifications are pretty good for the most part:
• 4x Read speed for Blu Ray playback
• 8x Read speed for DVD ROM playback
• 32x Read speed for CD-ROM
• BD ROM access time is 250ms
• 2MB Cache
These specs might not look all that impressive on paper, but remember, this LiteOn drive was designed to read only and not write. While it will not set any awards for being blisteringly fast, it gets the job of playing back your movies and music with ease.
Once you install the drive and have powered up your HTPC or personal computer it is time to install the included software. You must install playback software for the Blu Ray Drive to work. If you do not want to use PowerDVD9 then there are others available for purchase. Windows 7 does a great job of recognizing new hardware and quickly finds the LiteOn drive, so there is no need to install the drivers for the it. You will however have to download the latest Firmware from the LiteOn website. Blu Ray’s can be quite picky at times, especially the newer discs so be sure to check for new firmware on a regular basis.
The LiteOn iHOS104-08 performance is excellent. The LiteOn is quiet when reading both BD discs and regular DVD discs. Playback on my machine is flawless. There is no skipping or juddering, no lip sync issues and the picture is absolutely incredible. It has played every Blu Ray that I have put in it so far, including new movies such as “How to Train Your Dragon” and Iron Man 2. Both worked flawlessly, the drive never even broke a sweat. I am very impressed with how well this BD drive handles the media you put in it. Discs spin up quickly and movies load very fast all while being very quiet while in operation. Playback and load times are equally as impressive when it comes to DVDs and CD-ROMS as well. Overall in the performance test I gave this LiteOn, it performed very well indeed, much better than the price would suggest.
Playback will depend on the specifications of your HTPC though, so make sure you meet the minimum requirements for Blu Ray Playback, you can do this by downloading the BD Advisor for free from Cyberlink. This will tell you if your current system can handle Blu Ray playback. http://www.cyberlink.com/stat/bd-support/enu/index.jsp
The LiteOn iHOS104-08 Blu Ray drive is an economical way to get into the world of Blu Ray and High Definition. For the price, and its performance in handling the latest Blu Ray movies it is simply unbeatable. Lite-On has been making quality hardware for many years now and this Blu Ray drive is no exception. If you have been toying with the idea of getting into the world of Blu Ray and will be happy with a drive that can playback only, then I think it will be very hard to overlook the LiteOn iHOS104-08. This drive coupled with your HTPC will deliver truly great results at an unbeatable price.
For Reference Purposes My system Specs are:
• AMD Phenom 9850 B.E Quad Core
• AsRock A780 Full Display Port Motherbord
• 4GB DDR2 1066 Ram
• ATI Radeon 5450 w/ 1Gb DDR3 Ram
• LiteOn iHOS104-08 Blu Ray drive