DVD drives have been at rock-bottom prices for a fair while now, with models available for as little as £15. The new iHAS324 from Lite-On isn’t quite that cheap, but at just £20 it’s still very much in the bargain basement category.
The iHAS324 is an internal SATA drive, with Lite-On providing a SATA cable in the package. A copy of Nero 8 Essentials is also included, which provides a decent range of burning tools.
In an attempt to differentiate itself from the countless other drives on the market, Lite-On includes a feature called SmartErase, which aims to ensure confidential discs can be rendered useless. The SmartErase application is found within Nero 8 and is very straightforward: simply choose which drive you want to use and then select either Quick Erase or Full Erase.
The Quick Erase feature is next-to-useless though, since it only erases data from a small part of the disc. Although this means the disc will no longer work in an optical drive, anyone with data recovery software will most likely be able to recover the majority of the data.
Select Full Erase, however, and the whole disc is wiped. As you might expect, though, this does take some time. When we ran it on a DVD+R disc we were left waiting over six minutes for it to complete.
As if being slow wasn’t bad enough, the appeal of SmartErase is given another swift blow in that it won’t work on rewritable media, which includes DVD+RW, DVD-RW and DVD-RAM.
Tools that improve security are always welcome, but we do have to question exactly how many people will actually put SmartErase to use. And with many paper-shredders able to tear optical media into shreds in just a couple of seconds, Lite-On’s got an uphill struggle in persuading people to use SmartErase.
As far as disc burning goes, the iHAS324 is more impressive. Lite-On quotes write speeds at 24x for DVD±R, 8x for dual layer DVD±R and 12x for DVD-RAM. Access times for DVDs and CDs are 160ms and 140ms respectively.
When we ran the iHAS324 through our burning tests it produced some good results. Burning 4.37GB of data to a DVD+R disc took the drive just four minutes and three seconds to complete. During the burn process it peaked at 24x, averaging out at 16x for the duration. Access times were also very close to Lite-On’s quoted figure, at 165ms.
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