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Lite-On review: Lite-On

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The Good Excellent CD-R and CD-RW performance; decent documentation; 24/7 toll-free tech support; front-panel headphone jack and volume control.

The Bad Lacks IDE cable; slightly frail media tray.

The Bottom Line If you're not in the market for a DVD burner, the Lite-On LTR-52327S's performance, documentation, tech support, and modest price make this CD-RW drive a must-have.

Visit for details.

8.3 Overall
  • Setup 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 9
  • Support 8

Review summary

If you want the superfast 52X-recording and 32X-rewriting speeds of the fastest CD-RW drives on the market, our favorite is Lite-On's LTR-52327S. It matched or bettered the performance of both MSI's CR52-M and Samsung's SW-252FRNS in the majority of our tests, and we found it selling online for the lowest price of the three. Outside of Lite-On's minor penny-pinch--not including an IDE cable with the LTR-52327S--there's no downside to this deal. The drive's documentation is adequate, Lite-On includes two free pieces of media, and the software bundle is from Nero--one of our favorites. If you're in the market for a CD-RW drive, look no further. Installing the LTR-52327S is a straightforward affair; anyone with modest screwdriver skills and the nerve to open up a computer case can do it. Lite-On includes an abridged, illustrated quick-installation guide and a fairly comprehensive user manual; both are lucid and detailed enough to steer you through the setup process, although there's no mention of the three mysterious extra jumpers on the back panel (our advice: leave them alone).

For more help in getting set up, check out CNET's new feature on how to install an optical drive.

Lite-On doesn't include an IDE cable with the LTR-52327S, but odds are you already have one inside your computer. On the upside, Lite-On does provide mounting screws and a drive-to-sound-card audio cable, an item lacking in many drive packages. Although there's nothing particularly exciting or stylish about the LTR-52327S's putty-colored front panel, it has all the necessities: a headphone jack, a volume control, an eject button, an emergency-eject hole, and a power light. Our only gripe concerns the media tray, which is neither as quiet nor as sturdy as the one on MSI's CR52-M. Along with the three aforementioned mystery jumpers, the drive's back panel houses the standard IDE and power connectors, as well as digital and analog audio ports and master/slave configuration jumpers; the functions of each of these are etched on top of the drive so that newbies won't have to crack the manual to find out what does what.

Lite-On ships the LTR-52327S with one of our favorite entry-level programs, Ahead Software's Nero Express, which boasts a sleek user interface with lots of straightforward wizards for creating audio, data, and video CDs. And although highly simplified, Nero Express also lets you make more-complicated CD compilations, including bootable data CDs and mixed audio and data CDs. You also get Ahead's InCD for packet-writing duties.

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Nero Express's interface keeps it supersimple: what would you like to burn?
The LTR-52327S turned in impressive test scores. In our CD-R recording test, it bested MSI's CR52-M and Samsung's SW-252FRNS; it was also the fastest to copy a 400MB folder from CD-RW. It was slightly slower than the SW-252FRNS at writing a 400MB folder to CD-RW and extracting a 26-minute audio file, and it lagged fairly significantly behind the CR52-M at copying a 400MB folder from CD-R. Still, of the three drives, the LTR-52327S is the best and most consistent performer overall.

CD-R tests (MB per second)  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Write a disc image to a CD-R  
Copy a CD image to the hard drive  
Lite-On LTR-52327S
Samsung SW-252FRNS

CD-RW tests (MB per second)  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Write test  
Read test  
Samsung SW-252FRNS
Lite-On LTR-52327S

Digital audio extraction test (MB per second)  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Extract an audio track from an audio CD  
Samsung SW-252FRNS
Lite-On LTR-52327S

Unless otherwise mentioned, all write tests are run with Verbatim media, rated at the drive's maximum speed. Find out more about how we test optical drives. Lite-On offers an industry-standard one-year warranty for the LTR-52327S. Although the phone number is hard to find on the company's Web site, Lite-On provides toll-free, 24/7 telephone support. The site is a bit slow, but the online support is copious, and it includes FAQs, software updates, RMA service, and registration. Firmware and software updates are also available.

/sc/30567093-2-300-SS2.gif" width="300" height="225" border="0" />
In addition to 24/7 phone support, Lite-On offers firmware updates and drivers on its Web site.

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