Those of you who own or lust after a computer like an HP x2 detachable-keyboard tablet, a Sony VAIO Duo 11 or an HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook may find that these computers miss the optical drive. This will limit their usefulness when it comes to enjoying CDs, DVDs or Blu-Rays or sharing data on cost-effective optical discs.
This situation is typically rectified through the use of a USB-connected optical drive of which there is an increasing number. But Pioneer have taken this further with a Blu-Ray drive that links to these computers via a docking station that has an integrated WI-Fi access point. This is similar to the many “mobile NAS” devices that are appearing on the market such as the Kingston Wi-Drive that I previously reviewed. It is part of a system that Pioneer is proposing with the docking station also being able to support an external hard disk this being like these mobile NAS devices.
A question that can be raised about this devices is whether it is worth paying the extra premium for a Wi-Fi-linked device rather than buying a USB optical drive. If you are using a regular clamshell-style ultraportable or just using this drive to “rip” content from optical discs to the computer’s local storage such as “loading up” that Sony VAIO Tap 20 with music from those new CDs you bought, or “burn” files to optical discs like you would do when you using the Sony VAIO Pro 13 to prepare a “proofs” disc to give to your client after the photo shoot, this unit may not be for you.
But if you do things like play CDs through the HP Envy x2’s Beats-tuned sound system or lounge on your bed while watching that Blu-Ray copy of your favourite movie on your Microsoft Surface Pro, this device would earn its keep.
What I am starting to see more are manufacturers who come up to the plate and offer devices to fill the gaps in the marketplace. This kind of situation avoids the risk of a product class reaching “peak” condition where products of that class lose their excitement.