Attractive; includes cables for all the ports; excellent DVD rips.
OWC doesn't seem to care as much about QA as it does about product design.
On the surface, OWC’s Mercury Pro Blu-ray external drive could seem appealing. The cabinet is attractive and sturdy; it offers FireWire 400, FireWire 800, USB 2.0, and eSATA interfaces—including all the requisite cables; and it holds a Pioneer BDR-203 drive, which is rated at 8x for BD-R writes—the highest rating available—and 16x for DVD+/-R. Yet, after using the device, we’re unimpressed.
We first tried to test the drive with the eSATA interface but it failed to work with any of our test beds, which use the nForce 680i SLI chipset. It was recognized by motherboards using Intel’s P45 and X58 chipsets as well as those boards’ auxiliary Marvell controllers. However, we benchmarked using USB 2.0 on our standard test bed for continuity.
Standard DVD testing went well, with the OWC Mercury Pro writing 4.38GB of data to a single-layer disc in 6:15 (min:sec)—a decent time, but not as good as LG’s GBW-H20L, which took 5:43. On a brighter note, the Mercury Pro was able to rip a dual-layer DVD movie to the hard drive in 10:49 (min:sec)—a time that rivals the best standard DVD drives and far outstrips the Blu-ray drives we’ve tested (the GBW-H20L took almost twice as long, for example).
But problems arose again when we moved to our Blu-ray tests. We simply could not write data to either BD or BD-RE media when using Nero DiscSpeed—the app we use for all our optical drive tests. Whether we used Verbatim, TDK, Memorex, or Panasonic media, we were met with an error message almost instantly. Tech support at OWC said they were able to use the app with no problem, but that wasn’t our experience. Since the version of the Mercury Pro we reviewed doesn’t come with software, we used the latest version of Nero 8 to test the drive’s Blu-ray skills. Like we said, the Pioneer drive inside the unit is rated for 8x BD-R writes—yet it took 52:17 (min:sec) to write 22.5GB of data to disc. Compare that with the 6x-rated LG GBW-H20L’s time of 22:16. A second test produced a similar result (52:26). Oddly, the drive performed more predictably when writing to BD-RE, taking 45:19 to fill a rewriteable disc, compared with the LG drive’s 39:35 (both drives are rated at 2x for BD-RE media).
We’re not sure what to make of this mish-mash of issues; we just know that $400 is a lot to spend on a really good drive—we wouldn’t even consider spending a fraction of that on this product.
|OWC Mercury ||LG GBW-H20L |
|DVD Write Speed Average ||11.52x||12.07x |
|DVD Read Speed Average ||11.96x ||9.10x |
|Access Times (random/full)||169/357ms||100/175ms |
|DVD Ripping ||10:49 ||15:19 |
|Time to burn 22.5GB to BD-R (min:sec)||52:17* ||22:16 |
|Time to burn 22.5GB to BD-RE (min:sec)||45:19*||39:35|