A cheap and capable DVD rewriter, but its SmartErase feature is a bit of a gimmick and there are faster and easier ways to securely dispose of confidential discs.
Cheap; DVD-RAM support.
SmartErase is rather pointless and doesn't work with rewritable media.
Anything that helps improve security will always appeal to businesses dealing with sensitive data, and the Lite-on iHAS324 DVD rewriter promises to do just that with its SmartErase feature.
It's worth pointing out that the iHAS324 is a Sata drive and therefore won't be suitable for businesses with older PCs that have only IDE interfaces. Lite-on includes a Sata cable in the package.
As far as DVD burning goes, the device can handle all formats including dual-layer media and DVD-RAM. Speeds are in line with similar drives, with dual-layer DVD+/-R burning possible up to 8x and standard single-layer DVD burning up to 24x.
Nero 8 Essentials is included and offers a comprehensive suite of burning tools along with a link to SmartErase, which opens as a separate application. There are only two options in SmartErase: Quick Erase and Full Erase.
When we tried the Full Erase option on a DVD+R disc, it took just over seven minutes to complete. This can be speeded up by selecting the Quick Erase option, but this erases only a small portion of the data; the disc will no longer work, but data recovery software may be able to resurrect the majority of its original content.
SmartErase doesn't work with rewritable discs such as CD-RW, DVD-RW, DVD+RW and DVD-RAM. Try using it on any of these discs and the software will rather unhelpfully display a message stating: 'Your drive may not support this feature'. Only when you delve deep into the manual does it explain that rewritable discs aren't supported.
Given the time it takes to erase a disc, we can't help feeling that very few people will actually make use of the SmartErase feature. And with many businesses already having paper shredders that accept optical media, it does seem rather unnecessary. Still, at just £20, you're not paying a premium for it, and the iHAS324 is an otherwise capable DVD rewriter.