Asus SBC-06D1S-U Blu-ray drive
External USB 2.0 Blu-ray drive with DVD burning capabilities
- Sleek and attractive design, x6 BD read speeds, no external power supply needed
- Slow file transfer speeds (compared to e-SATA), cheap disc-eject mechanism
The Asus SBC-06D1S-U is a fuss-free external Blu-ray drive with 6x read speeds. While you can't burn Blu-ray media, it remains a good option for watching Blu-ray movies or burning DVDs.
Price$ 349.00 (AUD)
The ASUS SBC-06D1S-U is an external Blu-ray drive designed for PC-based home theatre systems. In addition to playing Blu-ray discs, it is also a capable DVD burner. This is a function that many external BD drives such as the Lite-On iHOS104 and LaCie d2 lack. Alongside its DVD burning capabilities, the ASUS SBC-06D1S-U’s main claims to fame are its 6x BD read speed and sleek, arresting design. It also runs entirely through a USB 2.0 interface — subsequently, a dedicated DC power supply isn't required.
It is obvious at first glance that ASUS has gone to great pains to make the SBC-06D1S-U Blu-ray drive as attractive as possible. It’s arguably the best looking optical drive on the market, with a glossy black finish criss-crossed by blue streaks of light. The brightness can even be adjusted to suit your taste using ASUS’ BluTuner software: very smart. While LaCie remains the king of avant-garde design in this market, the SBC-06D1S-U Blu-ray drive is a strong contender to the crown. It's almost a fashion accessory first and an optical drive second.
In addition to looking flash, the ASUS SBC-06D1S-U is also incredibly sleek. It measures just 157x142x21mm, which is smaller than a DVD case (albeit a bit thicker). A vertical stand is included in the sales package to reduce its footprint even further. If we had any qualms about the design, it’s that the disc tray pops open via a cheap spring-loaded mechanism (the design equivalent of having a plastic drink holder inside a Porsche). Nonetheless, the build quality is pretty impressive overall, with a durable, scratch resistant shell to protect from minor knocks.
To test the ASUS SBC-06D1S-U, we plugged it into a Intel Core i7 965 PC using the supplied USB cable. (Note: the cable comes with two separate connectors, which both need to be plugged in for the drive to be recognised). We watched the Blu-ray editions of Terminator: Salvation and Finding Neverland using a Samsung SyncMaster 275T HD monitor. On both occasions, playback was smooth and reliable, while picture quality was suitably vivid. Loading each disc took the drive around 40 seconds. The ASUS SBC-06D1S-U was quiet during operation, although it was pretty hard to tell over the racket of our ATI Radeon HD 5850 graphics card. All up, we were very happy with the SBC-06D1S-U’s playback performance.
The ASUS SBC-06D1S-U is compatible with all Blu-ray disc types (i.e. – BD-ROM, BD-R, BD-R DL, BD-RE and BD-RE DL). It will also play just about any DVD or CD you care to insert; including DVD-ROM (single and dual layer), DVD +R, DVD-R, DVD +RW, DVD-RW, DVD +R DL, DVD-R DL, DVD-RAM, CD-ROM, CC-R and CD-RW. Naturally, write speeds are a bit slow compared to eSATA-equipped optical drives — but that's to be expected. It took us seven minutes and 28 seconds to transfer 3GB of mixed files to a single DVD-R disc. This actually isn't too bad for a USB device.
The ASUS SBC-06D1S-U comes bundled with a suite of BD software, including CyberLink PowerDVD 9. This is a high-definition media player equipped with True Theater HD (TTHD); an interpolation tool that upscales standard-definition video to 1080p — we watched The Matrix on DVD using this function and were quite impressed with the results. A backup utility called PowerBackup is also provided, along with the encryption tool Power2Go which includes file-hiding and password options. All of the bundled programs are straightforward and easy-to-use, with a drag-and-drop interface used for most applications.
All up, the ASUS SBC-06D1S-U is a worthy performer in most areas. If you require a portable Blu-ray drive with DVD burning capabilities, you could do a lot worse than the ASUS SBC-06D1S-U external Blu-ray drive.
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