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Hands on: LG GBW-H10N 4x Blu-ray player

Blu-ray continues to invade the UK. Its latest salvo comes from the 4-speed GBW-H10N Blu-ray drive from Korean funsters LG

Blu-ray is beginning to win Crave over at the expense of its cheaper rival, HD DVD. We've seen nothing of HD DVD but have been virtually inundated with Blu-ray disc players, Blu-ray Media Center PCs, Blu-ray laptops, and today, a standalone Blu-ray disc reader/writer for the PC.

We've just finished installing the LG GBW-H10N and are quite impressed. It slipped into a vacant 5.25-inch drive bay, connected to the motherboard via an IDE cable and Bob became our high-capacity uncle within a matter of minutes.

The drive comes with a range of Cyberlink software including PowerDVD, which can run both DVDs and Blu-ray flicks. We wasted no time in firing up a Blu-ray copy of Tears of the Sun, which it promptly refused to play -- something about us not having the right graphics card.

Not a problem. We slotted in a slightly more modern card (a PNY Nvidia GeForce 7600 GT we had lying about) and the results were much better. The movie was as joyous to behold as a newborn angel child flying above an autumn sunset on bonfire night.

LG reckons the GBW-H10N is the first 4-speed writer on the market, which makes it four times faster than the drive seen in the Sony Vaio VGX XL-202. Unfortunately, it doesn't support dual-layer discs, so the maximum you can write is 25GB per Blu-ray disc, one of which is included in the package. It'll write to ordinary DVDs at a maximum of 12x.

You can pick one up now for a rather pricey £499, but it's quite a cheap upgrade if you want to turn your existing Media Center PC into a Blu-ray-ready media monster. Watch for a full review of the GBW-H10N in the coming days. -RR