Very netbook friendly
Review If you buy a netbook, you have to be prepared to live without an optical drive. You can add an external drive for reading and writing DVDs and CDs, but to make it as convenient as the mini-laptop, it needs to be self-contained and compact. Lite-On has one with a good spec.
Lite-on's eSAU208-16: slimline but angular
Adding a DVD rewriter to a desktop or laptop isn’t as awkward as it used to be, thanks to USB. There are plenty of external DVD readers and rewriters available, but many are built around 5.25in chassis and few have many trimmings. Korean maker Lite-On makes drives, so isn’t just boxing and rebranding other people’s.
Lite-On’s excitingly named the eSAU208-16 comes in black, red, white and blue, so should blend in with most of the latest netbooks. It also comes with a slide-on stand, so you can mount it vertically, to save space. Like any laptop-style drive, CD/DVD discs are clipped onto the central spindle.
Styling is simple, with the main coloured case sculpted to reveal a matte black insert, trailing off from a rear corner. All cosmetic, of course, but a break from the usual small, black box. The drive has the usual push button tray release and emergency paperclip hole in its tray. At the back is a mini USB socket for data and power connection and a low voltage DC input, if USB isn’t sufficient.
There are three ways of powering the eSAU208-16. For most purposes, a single USB connector should be good for power as well as data, as long as there is no other USB device drawing power from the same controller and as long as you’re not using LightScribe.
If you only have shared controllers, you can plug the second of the two USB headers on the bundled cable into a second socket. If you want to use LightScribe, you should use the power supply bundle with the drive.
Lite-On offers a power test utility, to determine if the USB port the drive’s connected to has enough juice, but the message reads: "The System can working fine, on the Power Saving of VBus Power." Alas, there was no mention of "VBus Power" and how or why i'ts Saving Power in the documentation - not exactly consumer friendly, is it? We connected the PSU for testing, in case it had an effect on performance.
Disks really are on their way out.
Can't remember the last time I ever actually needed to use one, I think they'll soon be looked at in the same way as people look at the floppy drive on their new PC i.e. "Why the hell are they bothering to sell it with this clunky great thing in there?".
Give it a couple more years, and we'll start to see a transition to flash drives as the media of choice. Price is currently approaching £1/gig, and seems to be halving every year.
Add in the unlimited capacity (currently 64gb, but will get bigger), the smaller size, the superior read/write speeds, the lack of clunky hardware to read it, the minimal power usage on portable devices, and the lower noise levels and you have a winner of a recordable media format. I can see it overtaking blu-ray in terms of price per gig at some point.
I got a portable DVD player with a usb slot for my mum as an xmas pressie, also included a 16gb flash drive with 20 movies on it. She prefers playing movies from the flash stick as it's quieter and the battery lasts longer. There's the non-techie vote right there.
Of course, I guess we'll have to wait until the industry figures out how to DRM the things to hell before it'll actually take on. Then there's the stuck pig that is blu-ray to consider. :(
It'll get there, one way or the other, possibly through downloads, the music industry has already made the switch to flash storage for all practical purposes, movie industry will follow suit.
The software industry seems to have skipped physical media altogether, a lot of stuff is only available as a download.
Don't get me wrong, I've no objection to making these drives smaller and more attractive, so they look nicer sat on your desktop. But if you're really going to carry this thing around along with a netbook, just buy a cheap laptop instead.
... plastic discs anymore these days???
Can be had for less.
Got one recently to partner an ASUS E901 SCC (not a Netbook, don;t want to be sued). It works great and is particularly neat and lightweight. It was just over £50 including delivery but the cashback deal took it below the £50 mark. It only gets carried around when absolutely necessary but is a convenient size when you do need to have one.
It's also useful for simply reading CD's of data from other sources and the kids have used it to play DVD movies or play games from in their bedrooms.
I like it and there are different colours but the reddish colour looks fine to me.
What's the point of a fancy multi-coloured enclosure, and then sticking a plain black drive inside? MAkes it look like it was thrown together, not, as the article says, all made by the same manufacturer.
Can't see the point of LightScribe though - the discs all cost twice as much as a regular disc of the same quality.