The LH-20A1L is the only drive of the three that does not have a company logo on it - typical of most of Lite-On's products. Instead, it prominently displays DVD Multi-Recorder, DVD-Read/Write, Compact Disc, and Lightscribe logos across the drive tray. All dressed in black, it has a power eject button in the lower right with an emergency pinhole located on the left side nearby a drive access LED. Although probably not too significant, the internals of the drive are beige, striking a contrast against the opened tray (the other drives are black throughout). SATA data and power connectors are placed on the rear of the drive as expected.
Lite-On may not have the flashier names for their technologies that their counterparts use, but essentially it all comes down to the same idea. SMART-BURN and SMART-WRITE avoid buffer underruns by automatically adjusting the writing speed to provide the best burning quality. SMART-X adjusts CD-DA/VCD/DVD data extraction to allow the fastest allowable speed while maintaining quality ripping and the ABS system helps reduce vibration and noise while recording and reading. The LH-20A1L is also one of the two drives that supports the LightScribe technology.
Our initial installation of the LH-20A1L caused Windows XP to fail to boot - never a good sign. We shut down the system, checked the connections, and re-booted with success. Windows XP recognized the drive within 30 seconds, dropped it, and then found it again successfully. We suspect there may have been some oxidation or something else that initally caused a bad connection, and that re-seating all the cables solved the problem. Although not overly loud once it started working, we noticed a decent humming noise from the drive during the audio ripping and media writing tests.
NOTE: The Lite-On LH-20A1L we received was an OEM version, and as such, did not arrive with any supporting media or paperwork. From what we could ascertain, retail versions should arrive with an alternate face-plate, SATA cable, manual and NERO Essentials 7 CD-ROM, making this bundle the most complete of our round-up.
Running NERO InfoTool on the Lite-On LH-20A1L shows few differences from the Asus DRW-2014. The Firmware Version is BL05, which is also the latest and supposedly helps out with crashing and freezing of Windows while burning DVDs. Buffer size is again shown to be 2MB. Almost all CD and DVD formats are supported, with reading CD+G the only format lacking that the Asus drive had featured.