Small, stylish, portable formfactor; adequate performance.
Inferior performance to an internal drive; high price.
In December, we reviewed
Plextor’s PX-B320SA combination Blu-ray reader/DVD burner
and found it a worthy product for the dual purpose of writing DVD discs and watching Blu-ray movies. But that internal drive does little good for folks who do all their computing on a laptop. For them, Asus’s SBC-04D1S-U combo drive could be the answer.
The SBC-04D1S-U external drive is not only slim and stylish, but also very portable, measuring approximately 5.5x6x1 inches and weighing less than 1.5 pounds, and it takes up little room on a desktop when perched vertically in its included stand.
Unfortunately, despite its conveniences, the SBC-04D1S-U doesn’t sport quite the same performance muscle as its internal counterparts. The SBC-04D1S-U, which connects to a PC using a dual-head USB 2.0 cable (included with the drive), is capable of writing to DVD+/-R at 8x—the internal combo drives we’ve tested, Plextor’s included, are rated at 16x. Put into real-world terms, Asus’s drive wrote 4.38GB of data to a DVD+R in 10:46 (min:sec) compared with the Plextor’s time of 5:20. With double-layer media, the Asus drive is rated at 4x while the Plextor drive is rated at 8x—the Asus took 29:36 to write 7.96GB of data to a DL disc, while the Plextor took just 16:58.
In our DVD ripping test, the gap between the two combo drives only widened. Asus’s external drive took 30:42 to copy a movie DVD to the hard drive; Plextor’s internal drive took 10:47. Interestingly, the two drives found parity in the task of Blu-ray ripping. In fact, the Asus SBC-04D1S-U did slightly better, ripping the contents of a BD movie disc in 45 minutes, compared with the Plextor’s 47 minutes. Admittedly, this is probably the test of least value since most people are apt to use a transcoding program to make archival copies of Blu-ray, which introduces other variables besides drive speed.
So we’ve established that Asus’s SBC-04D1S-U won’t get you the same level of performance you’d get with a good-quality internal combo drive such as Plextor’s PX-B320SA. But if an internal drive is not an option, the Asus SBC-04D1S-U will perform its DVD and BD functions adequately while providing a space-saving, portable formfactor—certainly, its most valuable asset.
|Asus SBC-04D1S-U||Plextor PX-B320SA |
|DVD+R Write Speed Average||6.03x||11.99x|
|DVD+R Read Speed Average||6.14x||12.07x |
|Access Times (random/full)||147/307ms ||111/210ms|
|DVD+DL Write Speed Average ||3.80x||6.86x|
|DVD Ripping (min:sec)||30:42 ||10:47|
|BD Ripping (min:sec)||45:00 ||47:00|