The discs do not come in a standard spindle, so you have to be very careful when opening it.
They have a branded surface:
The recording surface has a dark purple color:
When the disk is loaded in ImgBurn on a LiteOn iHAS524 drive with OverSpeed turned on, it will detect them as having a speed of up to 16x:
The disc media ID from this batch is RICOHJPN-D01-67.
Unfortunately, burning these discs with either 12x or 16x will not work and will produce coasters. They will actually write at 4x but will fail the verification. This is why I recommend turning off OverSpeed and burning at the rated 8x speed.
Here’s the disk information with OverSpeed turned off:
The LiteOn iHAS524 was able to burn the discs successfully when burned at 8x. I burned them with HyperTuning, Online HyperTuning and Smart-Burn turned on. OverSpeed was turned off.
Interestingly, it seemed to have burned some discs using a CAV strategy while the rest were burned using a Z-CLV strategy.
The disc started burning at 5x but eventually reached 8x. Then it went backward:
Data verification was successful going up to 16x:
The drive burned the discs starting at 4x, then going up to 6x, and finally up to 8x. It then did the same on the opposite direction:
Data verification was also successful having a maximum read speed of 16x:
Disc Quality Test
I used Nero DiscSpeed to perform quality tests on these discs. It seems that there is a problem around the layer break when the scan is performed at the maximum speed which is 16x:
However, when we reduced the speed to 8x, we got some decent results with no issues at the layer break:
With a price of just $19.99, I think this is a good media to backup data. A 100pk Single-layer DVD+R spindle cost somewhere between $20-$25 these days. While these media are Double Layer, you’re getting half the discs with almost double the capacity for around that same price.
When burning these discs, just don’t overspeed them. You’ll have coasters. Burn them at their rated speed of 8x and always verify the data. While none of my discs had issues verifying the discs burned at 8x, those burned at 12x and 16x did experienced issues. This is why you should disable overspeed and burn at 8x.
The OWC Mercury Pro 5.25″ External Optical Drive Enclosure
This is an enclosure designed for Internal 5.25″ CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray drives. It uses a USB 3.1 Gen 1 connection to transfer files faster than when using USB 2.0. This mainly applies to Blu-Ray discs since they can have a very high transfer rate when compared to CD or DVD, hence having a USB 3.1 Gen 1 connection allows us to benefit by having faster transfer speeds.
The enclosure comes in a simple box where when opened, we see a box that contains the power and USB cable as well as the screws needed to mount the drive:
We then see the enclosure below:
It comes protected inside a plastic bag:
Once we take it out of the bag, we can see the shiny metal enclosure:
On Friday, I got a used LiteOn iHAS124 A delivered. This model use the SF-DS19L OPU that all LiteOn iHASx24 use (x being a number from 1 to 6).
The LiteOn iHASx24 series are all the same, except that the iHAS224, iHAS424 and iHAS624 has the hardware for LightScribe burning, while the iHAS124, iHAS324 and iHAS524 doesn’t. Other than that, the hardware is identical but they have different firmwares. The capabilities between models are the following:
LiteOn iHAS124: Base model.
LiteOn iHAS224: LightScribe.
LiteOn iHAS324: SmartErase.
LiteOn iHAS424: LightScribe and SmartErase.
LiteOn iHAS524: LabelTag and SmartErase.
LiteOn iHAS624: LightScribe, LabelTag and SmartErase.
Basically they have a different firmware enabling LightScribe, LabelTag and SmartErase depending on the model you have. Even if you have a different model, the firmware can be crossflashed by using some tools and firmware. I will not be covering that here, but it’s good to know if you’d like to add some features to your drives. The only feature that depends on hardware is LightScribe.
My LiteOn iHAS524 has been with me since 2010, and it’s probably the best CD and DVD burner available given its ability to overspeed 16x media to 20x. It also has HyperTuning, Online HyperTuning and SmartBurn, which are essential features to burn media with great quality. This is why I still count on this drive as sometimes I like to store data on optical media.
The drive had its optical pickup unit changed to the SF-DS1XD some years ago because one CD broke inside the unit, damaging the original SF-DS19L. I also didn’t use DVD+R DL media, so everything was fine, until last week. It turns out that the OPU had problems burning the discs. Specifically, it had problems focusing on the second DVD layer, failing at 50%. This is why I brought the used LiteOn iHAS124 A drive.
Because this unit is an A revision unit, the hardware between the iHAS124 and iHAS514 is the same. I did changed the iHAS524 disc mechanism to the one from the iHAS524 C revision, with the exception of the OPU:
On both photos, the iHAS524 is on the left while the iHAS124 is on the right.
Here we can see the disc mechanism from the iHAS124 unmounted:
And the Optical Pickup Unit taken out of it:
I’ll be using this OPU in the original iHAS524 mount, so I placed it there:
And finally, here’s the disc mechanism attached to the iHAS524:
The OPU started working immediately. It is now loading discs faster and wasn’t making weird noises. I was also able to burn some DVD+R DL media without issues. I’ll be talking about that on another post, but for now, this is it.
On Saturday, I received the LG WH14NS40 Blu-Ray Writer Drive. This is my 3rd Blu-Ray writer and it will replace my LiteOn iHBS112 which was causing several bad burns. The other drive is the Panasonic UJ-260, which is a slim drive that burns discs successfully.
This drive is one of the cheapest Blu-Ray XL writers available on Amazon. It is also able to read and burn CDs and DVDs.
Here, we will see the drive unboxed and teared down.
The drive came in this simple box:
There’s no branding. Just a box with the part number printed on a label.
Opening the box we see the drive:
Just the drive. No cables or software are included.
The drive is protected in bubble wrap:
Also also comes inside a plastic bag:
Taking it off we see the drive itself:
Now, let’s take a look at the top, where we will find some useful information:
The drive is the WH14NS40, with SVC code NS50. It was manufactured on January 2020 and comes with firmware 1.04:
Finally, this is the drive with the tray opened:
We will begin the teardown by removing the 4 screws on the bottom:
We can then remove the bottom cover:
Let’s take a closer look at the drive chipset:
It is using a MediaTek MT1959HWDN chip.
Let’s now see the Eject Button, LED and Tray Motor board:
A look at the bottom tray mechanism:
The internal tray loading mechanism and Optical Pickup Unit:
A closer look to the Optical Pickup Unit:
And finally, here’s how the drive looks in my Desktop PC:
This Blu-Ray writer can be crossflashed to the WH16NS60 16x variant. In fact, that was the first thing I did.
The drive is identified as HL-DS-ST BD-RW WH16NS60.
Here is the drive capabilities according to ImgBurn:
So far, I was able to successfully burn a BD-R with media code RITEK-BR2-00 and a BD-R DL with media code RITEK-DR3-000. Both discs were burned with ImgBurn and verified successfully.
Look forward as I test Blu-Ray media with this drive!
In the past few days, I brought a LiteOn iHAS524 C DVD drive on eBay. This drive is quite rare and was being sold as used, but the unit seems to be in good conditions.
The reason to have this drive is due to its unique LabelTag feature. This allows you to create labels on the data side of a CD-R and DVD+/-R. It, of course, will consume space, but the advantage is that you don’t have to manually label the discs as long as there is enough storage. It can also be created as soon as the data is burned given you use Nero Express with the LabelTag software present.
I also currently have the LiteOn iHAS524 A, which had its optical pickup unit replaced with the one used in the B revision. They are compatible with the A units and have been working great. However, the C unit laser is NOT compatible with the A unit, and I guess the same is true with the B units.
Here, I’ll present you with a side by side comparison of the internals as well as its exterior photos.
LiteOn iHAS524 C External Photos
We start with the front of the drive:
As is usual with DVD drives, you get to see the CD and DVD logos; and because this drive also features LabelTag, it has the logo in the front too.
Here is a closer look at the top:
And the back:
This C unit was manufactured on August 2012.
LiteOn iHAS524 A Exterior Photos
Now, let’s take a look at the exterior photos of the iHAS524 A. This drive has been with me since its release in 2010, so it doesn’t have the same condition as the iHAS524 C:
Again, we see the CD, DVD, and LabelTag logos.
Here is the top:
And the bottom of the drive:
It has a missing screw which I lost some time ago when I replaced the drive optical pickup unit. This drive was manufactured on June 2010.
Here, we will see the internals side by side. We will start with the top cover interior:
Now, a look at the drive’s inside:
Both drives looks almost identical, with a few diferences.
This is the iHAS524 B Optical Pickup Unit. The part number is SF-DS1XD. It is compatible with the LiteOn iHAS524 A and is the one it’s using.
And here’s the iHAS524 C Optical Pickup Unit:
The part number is SF-DS1X1. It doesn’t have the small potentiometer on the lower left. Other than that, it looks almost the same.
The back also looks similar. The board from the A model is a bit bigger than the C model.
Here, we see both drives internals with the disc tray opened, giving us a better look at the reader mechanisms.
Unfortunately, the iHAS524 C Optical Pickup Unit is not compatible with the iHAS524 A. The drive refused to turn on, but it seems that what really happened was that there was a short circuit. This caused the ribbon cable to burn:
The iHAS524 A didn’t suffer any damage other than the burned ribbon cable. The SF-DS1X1 laser didn’t get damaged and the iHAS524C was able to work fine. After I made sure it worked, I placed its ribbon cable to the iHAS524 A and it started working with the SF-DS1XD OPU again. Phew!
Long story short, the SF-DS1X1 OPU is not compatible with the iHAS524 A. Use the SF-DS19L (The one that should be used in the A revision) or the SF-DS1XD (For B units, but also works with the A units).
This is the SF-DS19L Optical Pickup Unit which I replaced with the SF-DS1XD:
If you need one of these Optical Pickup Units, you can find them on AliExpress.
This is a slim external CD-RW/DVD-ROM Combo drive that can read and write CDs but can only read DVDs.
Let’s begin with the teardown.
First, we must remove 2 screws that are found on the back to open the drive enclosure:
We can then open the enclosure:
We can see the DVD drive along with the board and USB Cable. We can also see that it seems that the USB cable is not actually soldered to the board.
Removing the DVD drive from the enclosure, we can see that the cable is in fact a Mini USB cable. This means the cable is not an actual USB 3.0 cable:
The fact that the cable is not soldered to the board is good news for us since we could replace it if the original cable goes bad or we want to use another cable.
On the back of the drive, we can take a closer look at the USB board:
Taking it off reveals a nice surprise:
The board is a USB to PATA/IDE adapter. This is interesting and somewhat makes sense, since the drive is just a CD-RW/DVD Combo Drive, and back in the days, we could see tons of CD writers for laptops. It uses the Initio INIC-1511 IC.
Here, we can see the PATA/IDE conector of the drive:
I decided to take off the sticker that it has on the top, revealing something more:
The included TEAC DW-224E-C drive was manufactured in November 2005. This could mean they are recycling old DVD drives or using refurbished drives. If this is true, this is good news for the environment, since they are repurposing drives that are in working conditions.
Here, I have the original drive connected to my computer without the enclosure:
Because the drive is basically an internal drive on an IDE to USB enclosure, we should be able to use it with other drives. I tested it with an old Optiarc AD-7561A drive. This drive is a CD/DVD writer with Lightscribe technology, which I haven’t used it for years:
When I connected the drive to the board, and to the computer, it recognized it without any issues:
And here we can see its capabilities as reported by ImgBurn:
The Optiarc drive still works after a lot of years of not using it. This also means that we should be able to use other PATA/IDE drives with this particular USB board and exchange the original drive if it ever goes bad.
That’s basically it for this teardown. If you’re interested in getting this CD-RW/DVD drive, you can get it on Amazon here.
This is a slim External CD-RW/DVD-ROM Combo drive, which is quite interesting, given that most units today are DVD writers. This one just reads and writes CD-R/RW, and reads DVD’s, but can’t write them.
The brand is unknown, too, but it was on sale a few days ago and decided to get one, just to have just in case one of my other drives goes bad. While CD/DVD usage has degraded over time, I do have music CD and I listen to them sometimes, so having a drive is handy to listen to them.
Let’s start with the box:
It is pretty colorful, and has a description of what it contains, as well as its features.
Opening the box we find the drive inside a bag:
We then find that the drive is wrapped in bubble wrap, and that there are some cards inside:
We can see that the faceplate of it is generic, with no CD or the actual DVD logo.
Taking off the bubble wrap, we see the DVD drive:
On the back, there is the USB cable:
The USB cable contains a USB-A 3.0 plug as well as a USB-C plug. Both can be used depending on the device you wish to use this DVD drive.
The documentation included is a manual, a thank you card, and another card telling to send an email to get a free 32GB USB drive.
Once the drive is plugged in the PC, I’m able to open the tray:
The drive is detected as a TEAC DW-224E-C drive:
The following is a screenshot of the capabilities of the drive as shown in ImgBurn:
As we can see, it reads most major CD and DVD formats and can write CD-R and CD-RW. Interestingly, it reports that it can’t read double-layer DVD+/-R. I’ll need to test this to confirm if this is in fact true.
I tested the drive with my Music CD collection and it reads and plays them fine. This is really great, and will be my main usage for it.
You can get this External CD-RW/DVD Combo drive on Amazon here.
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