Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Samsung USB DVD-Burner

If you have a netbook or ultraportable laptop, chances are it doesn't have an internal optical drive. While most users will stick with the same operating system and setup for the life of the computer, some might want to

restore or even upgrade to a newer configuration. This is where an external USB optical drive comes into play. Look at the Samsung SE-S084 tray-loading DVD-burner, and find out how well it works on with multiple systems.




Samsung SE-S084 Specifications:

  • Write Speeds: 8x DVD, 24x CD
  • Interface: USB 2.0
  • Buffer memory: 2MB
  • Supported Media: DVD-RAM, DVD+R, DVD+R DL, DVD+RW, DVD-R, DVD-R DL, DVD-RW, DVD-ROM, DVD-Video, CD-R, CD-RW, CD-ROM/XA, CD-ROM, CD-Audio, Video-CD, CD-1 (FMV), Photo CD, CD-Extra, CD-TEXT
  • Weight: .4kg
  • Dimensions: 141x19x157mm
  • MSRP: $69.99 (Street price: $59.99)

Build and Design The Samsung SE-S084 has a box-like shape with a glossy painted top and dark-grey trim. The color scheme goes well with the Samsung N110 shares the same tone of glossy black paint and matched logo. I would have been more impressed with the design if Samsung moved to a more rounded look like the design of the HP Pavilion dv2's drive, but that is just personal preference.


Samsung SE-S084


HP Pavilion dv2z external optical drive

The external drive feels solid, with no creaks or squeaks the the plastic when you squeeze the covers around the internal drive. Flex is minimal and it should hold up very well when carried in a travel bag with other heavy items. The mini-USB jack on the back of the drive appears to be designed to reduce stress from the cable with the connector fitting into a recessed hole. An integrated cable would have been even better, but if you use the drive frequently it is nice knowing that the cable can be swapped out if it ever becomes damaged.

In Use No drivers needed to be installed on any of the notebooks and netbooks we tested the drive with in order for it to be recognized. This included Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7, which all supported writing files to the drive with a blank disc ready and waiting. We tested the drive with the included Nero Essentials software, as well as ISO Recorder to burn MSDN provided ISOs to test various operating conditions.


In our testing, we used a Dell Latitude D630 as our full-size notebook and the 10" Samsung N110 to be our netbook candidate. Each test consisted of burning an ISO to the drive, with a single USB connection, or with the Y-connector, while the computer operated off of battery power. In each test case the ISOs burned in approximately the same time, and we never ran into problems using just a single USB connection. Each DVD image was 2.33GB, and it took just over three minutes to start the burn, finalize, and eject the disc. Samsung does warn users in the product manual that some machines may not provide enough current over a single USB port to adequately operate the drive, but in our office we didn't run into this problem.

Conclusion The Samsung SE-S084 is a nice compact USB DVD-burner that works well with notebooks and netbooks. The design might not be as refined as some of the other USB optical drives on the market, but it does its job as intended, and works with basically any Windows XP or Windows Vista machine. While Samsung does warn that some computers may not supply enough power to operate the drive using a single USB connector, we found the drive to work just fine on notebooks and netbooks around the office. Overall for $60, if you don't already have an external drive it is a great accessory to add to your bag.

Pros:

  • No drivers needed on most notebooks and netbooks
  • Good looking paint
  • Matches the look of Samsung netbooks
  • Built-in USB stress reliever

Cons:

  • Cable isn't integrated
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