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On our desk this week - 2

LG External Super Multi Plus DVD writer

The thing about external drives is that you either need one, or you don't. Do you only use a desktop PC, and has it got a DVD writer built in? Yes? Well, chances are you won't really need one of these, then.

Do you use multiple PCs, some of which do and some of which don't? Do you use a laptop without a DVD writer? Do you specifically need DVD-RAM support and can't find it in an IDE drive? This LG might be for you.

The drive is designed to be one of the very few multi-format DVD writers out there. Whilst most drives will do +R, -R and dual layer, you'll have a hard time finding one that does RAM too. This drive does them all, and it does them over USB 2.

The drive sits in a stylish black casing. It feels heavy, although the shell is made out of plastic. Unfortunately, it's the type of black plastic that shows up fingerprints horrendously, making it a nightmare for us to photograph! It has an on/off switch at the back and a socket for the supplied mains adaptor.

On our desk this week - 2 LG Super Multi On our desk this week - 2 LG Super Multi On our desk this week - 2 LG Super Multi On our desk this week - 2 LG Super Multi

Speed testing

Of course, a writer lives and dies by the speed it achieves. LG claim 16x writing speed for both +R and -R, as well as 5x for RAM. 16x is a speed of 21.1MB/s. Those are maximum, rather than average recording speeds, however. We anticipated that we might have a problem with a bottleneck over the USB 2.0 socket, and we were also sceptical about the speeds, so we decided to put the drive to the test.

In our tests, the drive was able to write 4.6GB of data to the both +R and -R in 6 minutes, with a couple of seconds either side for deviation - a very good speed. This equates, if our maths serves us, to an average write speed of 12.7MB/s, which puts it at around a 10-12x average write speed. This rather indicates that the USB 2 interface wasn't a bottleneck, since that is about what we find with internal DVD writers. In our RAM tests, we found that it averaged around a 3x write speed, which is also pretty good.

All in all, this is a fast external drive, and we can recommend it if you're in the market for one. As much as anything else, it's a great demonstration of multi-format compatibility, and this LG drive must be the number one buy if you need to write across different formats. Oh, and if you need it, there's also a version with LightScribe.

Name: LG Super Multi Plus External DVD writer
Buy it at: PCWorld stores in the UK
Cost: £69.99
Verdict: A great drive that does what it says on the tin.