With 16X DVD recorders now hitting store shelves, there isn't much time for newly minted 12X units to make an impression on savvy consumers. Still, a handful of vendors including Plextor, Sony, Artec, TDK, and even Lite-On have taken the 12X plunge, presumably, to gain some short-term speed advantage over the aging 8x competition.
Like most of its contemporaries, Lite-On's new SOHW-1213S is a dual-family device writing and reading most common formats. In terms of its raw specifications, the 1213S records DVD+R discs at 12X (ZCLV), DVD-R at 8X (ZCLV), DVD±RW at 4X (CLV), CD-R at 48X (CAV), and CD-RW at 24X (ZCLV). Reading is accomplished for prerecorded DVDs at 12X (CAV), dual-layer and single-layer DVD±R/RW at 8X (CAV), prerecorded CD and CD-R at 48X (CAV), and CD-RW at 24X (CAV).
Keep in mind that identical speed ratings don't necessarily mean that competing recorders perform equally in the real world. Straightforward analysis using Nero CDSpeed 3.12 certainly bears this out in that the 1213S takes a somewhat unremarkable 7:35 to write full DVD+R discs. By comparison, Plextor's latest 12X gem (the PX-712A) is at least a minute faster across the finish line. Lite-On's 8X DVD-R operation at 9:21 per full disc also lags behind the more fleet-footed Plextor, but the other media types tested met expectations at 13:59 for DVD+RWs, 14:34 for DVD-RWs, and a scintillating 2:37 for CD-Rs. Frankly, all manufacturers should embrace this kind of CD performance for the simple fact that far more CD-Rs roll out of the average DVD recorder than do DVDs.
The 1213S suffers from the same curse as all other high performance units by writing full speed to blank discs from only selected manufacturers. Currently, this list is still limited (Taiyo Yuden, MCC, Sony, Ricoh, and Maxell for 12X DVD+R and Taiyo Yuden, MCC, CMC, Gigastorage, GSC, Maxell, Ritek, Sony, and TDK for 8X DVD-R).
A bare-bones software ensemble consists of Ahead's Nero OEM Suite (Nero Express 6.0, InCD 4, NeroVision Express 2, Nero BackItUp, MPEG-2 SVCD/DVD Plug-in) and CyberLink's PowerDVD 5. In addition, a free downloadable tool is available to switch the book type (disc category) of DVD±RW discs. It's worth noting as well that Lite-On recorders have long enjoyed the attention of an enthusiastic hot-rodder community fashioning utilities such as OmniPatcher to mess around with low-level reading and writing parameters and Kprobe to perform C1/C2/PI/PO and other disc quality assessments. But keep in mind that using some of these tools may invalidate warranties. Also, the accuracy and precision—and therefore practical worth—of various 1213S testing combinations remain an open question without further detailed study and assurances.
Attractively priced at $119, Lite-On's SOHW-1213S isn't the swiftest, most featured, or most technically advanced recorder on the market but still offers faster-than-8X DVD+R performance and furious CD operation for the budget-conscious.
System requirements: 450MHz Pentium 3 (800MHz recommended), Windows 98SE/Me/2000/XP, 128MB RAM (256MB recommended), 5GB free HDD space, half-height internal ATAPI drive bay.