Review: LG Electronics GSA-4082B
Posted Aug 11, 2004

It never fails. Your spouse comes home with the wrong kind of blank DVDs, your client sends you a project in a format you can't edit, or a friend gives you a movie you can't play. But all is not lost. To combat these examples of Murphy's Law, the good folks at LG Electronics have come up with their great new GSA-4082B. While not the fastest DVD recorder on the block, it's certainly the most versatile.

A veritable Swiss Army knife of optical disc recording, LG's GSA-4082B is a "Super Multi." It records and reads almost all writable formats including DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, and DVD-RAM (bare 8 and 12cm discs), as well as the expected CD-R and CD-RW. Recording takes place at 8X (Zoned-CLV) for DVD±R, 4X (CLV) for DVD±RW, 3X (Z-CLV) for DVD-RAM, 24X (Z-CLV) for CD-R, and 16X (Z-CLV) for CD-RW. Prerecorded DVDs are read at 12X (CAV), dual-layer and DVD±R/RW at 8X (CAV), 3X-certified DVD-RAM at 3X (Z-CLV), prerecorded CD and CD-R at 32X (CAV), and CD-RW at 24X (CAV).

With Nero CDSpeed 3.0, this translates at 9:18 to record full DVD+Rs, 9:21 for DVD-Rs, 14:12 for DVD+RWs, 14:50 for DVD-RWs, 39:09 for DVD-RAMs, and 4:55 for CD-Rs. It's a bit of a head-scratcher why the GSA-4082B takes at least a minute more than many of its competitors to write full DVD±R discs. But closer examination reveals that instead of starting at 6X like its rivals, the GSA-4082B writes the first 500MB at 4X before switching to 6X and then to 8X after reaching the 2GB mark.

On the downside, even at 3X speed, DVD-RAM performance is still a bit of a dog compared to every other writable DVD format because its defect management chops effective writing performance down to 1.4X. What's more, DVD-RAM is not playback-compatible with most DVD-Video players or DVD-ROM drives. On the plus side, its data integrity features and high cyclability lend themselves to rolling backup applications (cartridge support would have made this complete). And the GSA-4082B is a good choice if you want to use or might encounter discs created by set-top DVD-RAM video recorders and camcorders or service DVD-RAM jukeboxes.

Versatile hardware doesn't amount to much without good supporting software. The GSA-4082B measures up in this respect as well, including a variety of applications to take advantage of the unit's many features. These include CyberLink's PowerProducer Gold and PowerDVD along with BHA's B's Gold, B's Clip, and DVD-RAM driver software. In addition to recording DVD-Video, VCD, and SVCD, PowerProducer writes and edits DVD+VR and DVD-VR formats and even converts DVD-VR discs into DVD-Video format. B's Clip and DVD-RAM driver provide drag-and-drop writing and B's Gold offers the typical array of recording functions, although a more heavy-duty backup solution would have complemented the DVD-RAM functions better.

All in all, the GSA-4082B is a pretty impressive unit that should find a welcome place for many lost in the forest of the incompatible.

System requirements: 700MHz Pentium 3 running Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP; Direct X 9.0; 128MB RAM (256MB recommended); 5GB free hard drive space; half-height internal ATAPI drive bay

LG Electronics US www.lgeus.com

Price: $179.99

--Hugh Bennett