Blu-ray is on the road to becoming mainstream, if LG's WH08LS20 internal SATA-interface burner is any indication. My experience with it was sublime; the drive functioned smoothly, and came with all the software I needed to burn any disc I wanted, including Blu-ray Discs, DVDs, and CDs. One thing I particularly liked about the WH08LS20 was the shorter-than-normal lag when identifying discs. If you've ever had to wait 10 or 15 seconds for Explorer to refresh when you stick a disc in a drive, you know the phenomenon of which I speak.

In Blu-ray speeds and feeds, the WH08LS20 is state of the art. It writes single- and double-layer BD-R at 8X, handles BD-RE at 2X, and reads BD-ROM at 8X. In my hands-on tests, it wrote to all of those media types at the rated speeds, and movie playback was silky smooth, with no stutters or hiccups. With DVD, the drive is fast, but less so, writing DVD+/-R at 8X, DVD+RW at 8X, DVD-RW at 6X, DVD-RAM at 5X, and DVD+/-R DL at 6X; it reads all those formats at 8X. CD read/write speeds are 24X across the board, more than fast enough for most users, but half what you'll find on drives like Matshita's SW5584 (a model that sometimes resides inside other vendors' products, such as the Buffalo BR-816SU2).

The bundled software that accompanies the LG WH08LS20 is a surprisingly powerful CyberLink suite that includes PowerDVD 7.03.4603 for Blu-ray and DVD movie playback, PowerProducer 5.0.1.0819 for capturing and manipulating video on CD/DVD/AVCHD/Blu-ray movie discs, MediaShow 4.0.22 for creating slide shows, and LabelPrint 2.20.3301 for creating labels and jewel-case inserts. For some reason, in my tests PowerBackup 2.50.4511 was deselected in the installation screen; however, you can still install it and use it to back up your files.

Power2Go 6.0.0.2 is included, too, for handling some of the more pedestrian data tasks. On top of just burning data to CD, DVD, and Blu-ray, though, Power2Go can also rip CD audio, convert audio (WMA/MP3/.wav), burn DVD movie structures to disc, and create and burn images (in CyberLink's .p2i format as well as standard .iso).

OUR VERDICT

Though the LG WH08LS20 isn't cutting-edge with CD/DVD media, it is with Blu-ray. Considering that the drive comes bundled with all the software you need, it's a good deal.