Tag: optical drives

External Blu-Ray burners to link your Ultrabook to archiving, games or box-sets


Best external Blu-Ray drives | Windows Central

My Comments

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro convertible notebook at Rydges Hotel Melbourne

You could use optical discs with this Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro convertible notebook thanks to an external optical drive connected to the USB port

It may be tempting to think that in this day and age of Netflix streaming, Dropbox data-transfer, and Spotify music streaming that the optical disc has been declared extinct. But the optical disc, be it a CD, DVD or Blu-Ray, is still hanging on as an unalterable archive medium and as a cost-effective way to deliver audio and video content in a collectible packaged form.

In the case of video-based content, the optical disc still remains as a sure-fire medium of viewing this content offline which would be of benefit when you are travelling. You may even find that you could pack a movie or a season or two of your favourite TV series in the briefcase or laptop bag to have ready to binge-watch during that long-haul international flight without worrying about how much of the Ultrabook’s small SSD you are taking up.

Inspector Morse DVD box set

This is more so with optical media like DVDs being the surefire way to deliver collectable video content

A Windows Central article highlighted and compared a selection of USB-connected external Blu-Ray burners that can work with computers that don’t have any form of optical-disc reading or writing built in to them. Most of these units are slightly larger than 2 CD “jewel-cases” and they connect to the host computer via a USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 cable depending on the unit. Some of them implement a USB “Y-cable” as a way to solicit extra power from the host computer but you may find that a self-powered USB hub or, in a portable context, a high-capacity USB external battery pack connected to the “power” part of the cable could serve as a way to keep these optical drives powered when used with a host computer that has few USB connections.

These, like other USB storage devices, will present to most operating systems using the USB Mass-Storage device-class driver but do come with at least DVD-playback or advanced optical-disc-authoring software but you can use other software to do the job. Most of these Blu-Ray burners have the ability to burn to the 100Gb BDXL discs which would earn their keep with archiving a large amount of data. Some of these devices even write to M-Discs which are an optical-disc variation that is optimised for long-term archival storage.

Those of us who have a computer with an integrated optical drive may find the external optical drives good for such tasks as adding an extra optical drive for disc-to-disc copying, ripping a multiple-disc CD set to FLAC or extending the optical-disc capabilities of your existing computer. Here, this situation may come in to its own with laptops, all-in-one computers or low-profile desktop computers. Similarly, these optical drives could become a fail-over measure if the internal optical drive failed.

What is being proven with these portable optical-disc drives is that the optical disc still exists as a medium for data-archiving or distribution of collectable content.

Pioneer’s Wi-Fi-linked optical drive for Ultrabooks


A Wireless Blu-ray Drive For Those With Ultra-thin Laptops

My Comments

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.

Sony and Panasonic Jointly Developing Beefy 300 GB Optical Discs


Sony and Panasonic Jointly Developing Beefy 300 GB Optical Discs

Blu-ray successor plan unveiled by Sony and Panasonic | BBC Technology

My Comments

Optical discs like the CD, DVD and Blu-Ray may be considered passé in the age of flash memory or cloud storage and the ubiquity of portable devices like iPads. But they still earn their keep in the consumer and business space as an affordable medium for exchanging or archiving data.

For example, they are still being used for distributing music, movies and games in a manner that appeals to consumers who want to maintain a collection of this content or buy it as a gift to give other people. As well, these discs may appeal as a cost-effective form for creating long-term archival copies of data or to distribute data to a large number of users in a form that can be handed over to the users. The disadvantage of slow access may not be of concern with data that one accesses on an occasional basis or is never changing.

Hence Sony and Panasonic have worked together on a 300Gb optical disc standard that they intend to be the successor to Blu-Ray.

For Sony, they want to see this format as a “pressable” optical disc format for distributing 4K UHDTV content especially to movie-collecting consumers. In some cases, this same format may make it easier for companies to sell larger collections of content in a compact cost-effective form, whether it be a series of movies or PDF renderings of a classic magazine’s back issues. Similarly, as sophisticated “core” games are optimised for the 4K UHDTV and are pitched at consoles, this next-generation optical disc could be used as a distribution media for these games. This would be more so with the “epic” titles like the Final Fantasy saga which has often been used as a “showcase” game for the PlayStation consoles.

The other main application will be long-term “archival” storage of data, where flash storage or regular magnetic hard disks won’t cut it for safe cost-effective storage. In this situation, the optical disks can effectively “free up” capacity on the hard disks or flash memory and, in a lot of cases, provide the “write once, read many” storage where the data cannot be altered once it is written. This latter option will effectively appeal to legal and regulatory requirements where the goal is to keep unaltered copies of key data.

What I see of the Sony and Panasonic effort is to keep the optical disc alive as a medium for long-term storage or cost-effective “collectable” distribution of content.

The perfect expansion module for those Ultrabooks


VMultra bundles USB hub, DVD drive, SD slot and 500GB HDD to form ultimate laptop peripheral — Engadget

My Comments

Previously, I have written some articles on the USB-connected expansion modules that can extend the functionality of those Ultrabooks and similar ultraportable computers. Here, I was

This included my reviewing a Sony VAIO Z Series premium ultraportable that was equipped with one of these modules that had an integrated slot-load Blu-Ray player.

But what amazes me about this particular VMultra expansion module is that it is effectively acting as a “storage hub” with an SD card reader, DVD burner and a 500Gb hard disk, thus adding at least three extra drive letters or disk icons to your computer. This also is effectively adding on an external hard disk to the computer for use in keeping “main office” work on the desk while you have “portable” work in the computer. Expect this unit to be equipped with a USB 3.0 host interface as well as a multi-port USB hub that most likely continuously self-powered so you can also charge those gadgets off it.

This could become the start of the expansion module that is more about a virtual system unit for an ultraportable, being equipped with onboard secondary storage, DisplayLink video functionality, audio functionality and the like to be kept as an “at home” or “at office” option.

Hitachi-LG optical-reader / solid-state drive combo for laptops


Hitachi-LG teases HyDrive: an optical reader with loads of NAND (video) – Engadget

Web site


My comments

The main thing that impressed me about this was that both the tray-load optical drive and the solid-state drive wore integrated in to the same low-profile chassis that would suit installation in to a laptop. There are many benefits that I see with this.

One would be that you could have a laptop specification that has both a large-capacity hard disk that is used for data and a lower-capacity solid-state drive used for the operating system and applications. It could then allow for battery economy and quick starts while the high capacity on the hard disk can exist for the user’s data and this hard disk is only spun up when the user’s files need to be loaded or saved.

As well, if Hitachi and LG move towards higher solid-state capacities, this could allow for low-profile laptops like the “thin-and-light” segment to have the SSD as the main system drive while supporting an optical drive.

Adding Optical Drives to Non-Computer Devices Using USB – What Can Be Done?

The typical network-attached storage, electronic picture frame or printer is now equipped with a USB host port, typically for connecting USB flash drives and other similar devices. Even a lot of boomboxes and clock radios which have a dock for an iPod have a USB host port so they can play MP3 files held on a USB flash drive. But what about connecting a USB-attached CD or DVD drive.

This could allow, for example, a typical network-attached storage to work like the RipFactory RipServer and “rip” audio CDs to the hard disk so they can be shared to DLNA-compliant media clients. Similarly, those CDs that we “burn” photos on to for sending to other people or viewing on our JPEG-compatible DVD player can be viewed on an electronic picture frame or select pictures can be printed from these discs using an “all-in-one” printer or the pictures that are on these CDs can be copied on to a network-attached storage so they are available on the home network. Approved DVD-playback software could be installed in an electronic picture frame so that one can turn it in to a personal DVD player by adding an optional DVD-ROM drive. Similarly, an MP3 player that doesn’t have a built-in optical drive could become a CD player once a CD-ROM drive is connected to it. The same holds true for such players that have a built-in optical drive but the optical drive has failed, thus extending the useful lifespan of these devices.

The main problems about this is the ability for these devices to support optical drives as part of the USB Mass-Storage device-class specification. Then there is the issue of providing enough power at the USB socket to support a “single-cord” USB optical drive of the kind sold as an accessory for portable computers like laptops or netbooks. This is because the USB cord in these drives is required to supply power as well as data. The power-supply problem can become more intense with devices such as electronic picture frames that are built to a limited size budget and have to work from internal batteries or an external power supply.

If this is implemented, the idea of an “add-on” optical disk drive for the likes of network-attached storage units, electronic picture frames and “all-in-one” printers that the user can buy at a later date can extend the value of these devices through their working life.