An external DVD drive connects to a computer through a USB 2.0 or FireWire port. An external DVD drive is necessary if you have a laptop without a drive bay, or a Mac or PC that lacks a way to replace an optical drive or a drive bay to add one. You can also easily switch an external drive between machines, but to prevent damage, shut down the computer before connecting it. Since external DVD burners are more expensive than internal DVD burners, and most computers can accommodate internal drives, few external drives are reviewed.
Among the few that get coverage, LG's BE06LU11 (*Est. $400) is a disappointment, according to Katherine Stevenson at MaximumPC.com. Expecting to find performance similar to LG's GBW-H20L (and related) internal burners, the BE06LU11 took twice as long burning BD-RE (Blu-ray rewritable) discs as its brand mates. While DVD burning and write-once Blu-ray performance was better in her tests, Stevenson concludes that the bigger price and bulky enclosure keep this model down. Australia's PC Authority is somewhat more upbeat. While the unit is "a lumbering piece of kit," it's attractive, though price is again cited as a negative.
Among standard DVD burners, the Plextor PX-Q840U (*Est. $90) only gets a professional review at CDRLabs.com. There, reviewers found that this stylish black external drive mostly lived up to their expectations. DVD burning speeds hit the advertised 20x range, although burning performance for dual-layer and rewritable DVDs lagged due to the PX-Q840U's peculiar writing method. Media compatibility is also noted as an issue. However, CDRLabs.com is impressed with the features on this external drive, which includes Qflix technology for directly downloading and burning movies from CinemaNow.