Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
LaCie d2 Blu-ray Drive (Design by Neil Poulton)
'Burnt' by the competition
- Arresting (if slightly bulky) design; bundled DVD applications (including Toast Titanium for Mac users); writes to Blu-ray, DVDs and CDs
- It's a space-hog; consistently trounced by the LG Super Multi Blue Blu-ray Disc Rewriter (BE06)
The new-and-improved LaCie d2 offers faster burning times than its predecessor at a less prohibitive price. However, it is still average and overpriced when compared to certain competitors.
Price$ 799.00 (AUD)
At the tail-end of last year, we reviewed LaCie's eminently so-so d2 — an external Blu-ray writer let down by its lethargic burn times and exorbitant price tag. Fast-forward to the present, and the French manufacturer has returned with a tweaked version of the same product. Offering faster results at a vastly reduced price, this is definitely an improvement over the previous iteration. But is it enough to escape the feeling of deja vu?
Being an external drive with a USB/FireWire interface, you can use the d2 across multiple PCs and notebooks without any fuss (provided they're HDCP-compliant, that is). This is the main advantage that the d2 offers over internal Blu-ray drives, such as Sony's BWU200S. However, when compared to other external Blu-ray burners on the market, the LaCie d2 consistently comes up short.
In addition to a subtle redesign by industrial designer Neil Poulton, the new d2 benefits from a 4x BD-R write speed (up from the original version's 2x write speed). DVD±R and CD-R media have also received substantial speed boosts, up from 8x to 16x and 24x to 40x, respectively. These gains put the d2 roughly in line with the current industry standard; however, there are also faster options on the market. LG's Super Multi Blue Blu-ray Disc Rewriter (BE06), for example, boasts a BD-R write speed of 6x.
We experienced no problems during Blu-ray movie playback. Our copy of Finding Neverland ran smoothly on our Samsung SyncMaster monitor at its full resolution (1920x1200). However, when we inserted a BD-RE disc, the drive occasionally refused to recognise it, forcing us to restart our computer. This seemed to happen around 20 per cent of the time. When we transferred 1.4GB of mixed media to a 50GB BD-RE disc, it took the drive 5min 21sec to complete the task. This works out at around 4.36 megabytes per second.
Like its identically named predecessor, the d2 is a fearsome brick of a device. With dimensions of roughly 173x45x251mm, it's certainly not something you can easily fit on a small or cluttered desk. By contrast, the LG Super Multi Blue Blu-ray Disc Rewriter (BE06) can be positioned both vertically and horizontally, thus saving desk space. Bulkiness aside, the d2 is a handsomely crafted product that retains the artistic styling that's synonymous with the LaCie brand. The hard aluminium casing adds to the sense of heft. However, at 1.4kg it's a lot lighter than its appearance suggests.
In addition to the drive itself, the sales package comes with nearly everything you need to get started, including a pair of USB 2.0 and FireWire (400) cables, Cyberlink's Power DVD video player and Roxio's Easy Media Creator software. A notable omission is any kind of recordable media. It would have been nice if LaCie had thrown in a BD-R disc, or at the very least a blank DVD. The LG Super Multi Blue Blu-ray Disc Rewriter (BE06), on the other hand, comes with a bonus BD-RE disc at no extra charge. (Do you see a trend developing here?)
If you're a Mac user, the d2 also ships with Roxio's Toast Titanium: a DVD burning suite that covers just about every facet of digital media creation. This includes AVCHD/Blu-ray support, disc labelling and a built-in video editor.
As mentioned earlier, one of the main benefits of the redesigned d2 is a significantly lower price tag. However, despite slashing its RRP by more than a third, the device is still overpriced when compared to — you guessed it — the LG Super Multi Blue Blu-ray Disc Rewriter (BE06). At $549, the LG drive is $250 cheaper than its LaCie competitor, which is the final nail in the coffin. If you want an external Blu-ray writer, the (BE06) does it cheaper and better.
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