BlueRayIogear.jpgCombining a Blu-ray drive with a USB interface seems at first like hitching a flying saucer to a wheelbarrow. Can USB’s meager bandwidth handle such newfangled technology? Even at full-tilt, 2x Blu-ray burns hover in the 8MB/s range, which is actually slower than an 8x DVD burn. So, yes, USB 2.0 provides plenty of bandwidth.

I/O Data’s BRD-UM2/U uses the same Panasonic drive as Plextor’s model—the only difference seems to be the external USB cabinet. As such, we didn’t see any major variations in performance, except in CPU utilization. During full-speed DVD burns, the USB-based drive pushed CPU utilization to 47 percent versus 31 percent, for the Plextor.

The killer for Blu-ray adopters is that burning rewriteable BD-RE discs is slow. As with Plextor’s drive, it took a frakking hour and a half to write a measly 22.6GB! Write-once media cuts that time down to 45 minutes, thankfully, but even that’s too long. While waiting for our burn to finish, we pondered whether optical’s time has finally passed. For large data sets, isn’t it much easier to just pop in your eSATA hard drive and copy that 22.5GB in two minutes instead? Granted, you can’t distribute 100GB portable drives to your friends and family, but it’s unlikely you’ll be giving them a $20 Blu-ray disc either, since they won’t have the $1,000 drive required to read them.

Month Reviewed: December 2006
+ ROBOT CHICKEN: Surprisingly cheaper than PATA drive version.
- I, ROBOT: Slow burn times on all media, and crazy expensive.
Verdict: 6



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