Blu-ray burners such as the new Plextor PX-LB950UE have taken the movie world by storm, and now millions of households around the country include at least one in their home theater systems. They playback everything in high-definition, and offer advanced audio formats up to 7.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound.
Blu-ray drives for computers, on the other hand, are just starting to become more prominent in the marketplace, and will eventually become the de facto standard in both internal and external drives.
Here’s a look at the Plextor External Blu-ray Drive/Burner PX-LB950UE (MSRP $299.99)
One of the great features of this particular Blu-ray drive is that it’s external and portable. It simple, sleek design will complement any desktop or laptop computer, and four rubber feet keep it securely in place on your desk or computer stand. At just under three pounds, this is a sturdy piece of hardware.
Everything is Included
How many times have you purchased a piece of hardware only to discover at home that you’ve got to head back to the store to purchase some cable or another? That won’t happen with the PX-LB950UE. It comes standard with a power cable, a 3.0 USB cable, and an eSATA cable.
Speed and Smooth Playback
Because the PX-LB950UE connects with either a USB 3.0 (compared to USB 2.0) or eSATA cable, smooth playback is ensured, as are shorter burn times. The eSATA connection is a real bonus here, as many people still use older computers, or “value” computers that don’t yet feature USB 3.0 interfaces.
The USB setup offers the standard USB A connection to the computer, but uses the less-seen USB B connection on the drive itself. If you lose the provided cable you must ensure you re-purchase the correct cable. The drive is USB 2.0 compatible, but playback will be affected and burn times will be extended.
The PX-LB950UE Blu-ray drive comes standard with two software discs. The first contains the proprietary tools Plextor wants you to have with this drive. The PlexUtilities disc includes basic information and diagnostic tools, as well as advanced tools most users won’t ever need to access. They include such utilities as parity error scanning, surface scanning, and focus diagnostics.
The second disc, the CyberLink BD Suite, offers a standard set of Blu-ray and DVD playback tools, authoring tools, data-to-disc tools, and blank disc labeling with LightScribe.
My opinion on bundled software has always leaned to the ‘cheap’ side. Meaning that what’s offered is usually a watered down version. I say to get the most out of your burner then upgrade to a full Blu-Ray burning software suite.
The ability to play every format of disc is huge when it comes to dropping a reasonable amount of cash on a on a Blu-ray drive. Fortunately, the PX-LB950UE performs excellently. It plays all Blu-ray formats, including BD-R, BD-R DL, BD-RE, and BD-RE DL (dual layer). It also plays DVDs and CDs with speeds ranging from 8x for Blu-ray discs up to 48x for CDs.
Writing to a variety of different formats was also impressive. Supported Blu-ray formats include BD-R and BD-R DL, & BD-RW. DVD formats include everything from DVD+/-R/W DL to DVD-RAM. CD formats include CD-RW and CD-R. Writing speeds also range from 8x (BD-R DL) to 48x (CD-R).
One of the primary reasons the PX-LB950UE Blu-ray drive from Plextor out-performs most other drives is because it’s a full size, true external drive with very fast connections. These features, and the wide range of supported playback and recording formats, make the PX-LB950UE an excellent external Blu-ray drive for anyone in the market for such a device. Smart shoppers will be able to find this particular drive considerably cheaper than its $300 list price.