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Picking The Best Burner

Three External USB And eSATA Blu-ray Burners Tested

BD-R media has finally reached the performance and price points necessary to make it a practical storage medium. Far cheaper than flash drives and more portable than mechanical hard drives, the final question we need to answer is which drive to buy for this high-value media.

Today’s review focused on external drives for their broad compatibility, so any recommendations won’t apply to buyers who specifically want less-expensive internal hardware.

LG’s BE12LU30 leads when using eSATA, but falters under USB. Superb write speed for our legacy 4x media pushes the Asus BW-12D1S-U into second place, but its read speed is fairly bad.

Plextor’s PX-LB950UE wrote both the dual-layer and legacy BD-R media in a CLV pattern, even as the program we used reported CAV. The discs were still error-free, but average write speed suffered enough to drag the firm's implementation into third place.

LG tops DVD performance as well, with impressive dual-layer writes the biggest contributor towards that win.

Most readers would stop here and buy the LG, since it is the best performer. Indeed, we’d use it in our own desktops, were it an internal drive. Unfortunately, customers demand the utmost flexibility for external drives.

We checked all of our recent systems, including high-end notebooks, to see which interfaces we really needed. All of them supported either USB 3.0 or eSATA. Some supported both, and a few definitely did not have eSATA provisions. Since USB cripples LG’s performance, Plextor takes the lead in compatibility with our hardware. Yours might be different.

Some of our other readers might be interested primarily in write performance, and for that we’d recommend Asus. An 8.6x write from cheap/old 4x media epitomizes our search for the best writing value, and the BS-12D1S-U even ties the other drives in writing newer formats.

While we have a clear performance leader, the choice isn’t so clear-cut for buyers. Asus is best for writing over USB, LG has the best overall performance when using eSATA, and Plextor is the only firm in today’s roundup to offer both interfaces.

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