Best External DVD Drives

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External DVD drives are becoming more popular now that new computers no longer come with internal ones. In this guide we have picked the best external DVD drive for a range of users and categories including Blu-ray and CD.

PIONEER BDR-XD05B

Pioneer is a leader in audio, and they also manufacture some of the best computer peripherals on the market. Offering a clamshell design, this model comes in black or silver and supports USB 3.0 and also BDXL.

The only time this fast-performing writer will slow down is when burning Blu-ray discs, but speeds are still at 6X, which is impressive for an external writer.

PowerDVD is provided, so you’ll have the software needed to play and write media. Quiet and very compatible, the XD05B is able to backup all of your media faster and more efficiently than competing models.

What We Liked:

  • Solid clamshell design
  • Uses USB 3.0
  • Quieter than most
  • Fast read/write speeds
  • Includes PowerDVD

IONEER SLIM EXTERNAL BLU-RAY WRITER (BDR-XU03)

pioneer is back with an external Blu-Ray writer, and this model comes with a stand (higher version). The magnesium body is sleek and aesthetically appeasing, and faster writing speeds are offered through USB 3.0.

Writing speeds are as fast as 6X, and there’s no need for an external power source.

Performance is quiet, and the company includes PureRead 2 Smarter Media Playback and PowerRead Smooth. Blu-ray media support allows for 100 GB triple-layer and 128 GB quad layer storage options.

You can use this external drive to view all of your Blu-Ray media, but you do need separate software (included) to be able to watch all of your Blu-Ray content.

What We Liked:

  • Fast Blu-ray burner
  • USB 3.0
  • Quiet when in use
  • Mac/Windows compatible

SAMSUNG USB 2.0 ULTRA PORTABLE EXTERNAL DVD WRITER (SE-218CB)

Samsung’s external DVD writer has interface compatibility for USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, and buffer memory of 1.0 MB for smoother reading and writing. You’ll be able to burn both DVD and CD mediums, and access time for both is just 150 MS.

Writes are made at 8X for most DVD media and 24X for CD media.

Seek time is a mere 190 ms, and the USB cable will act as the writer’s power source. The USB cord is included, and most MACs will run this writer. Windows machines will also work thanks to the automatic recognition feature.

What We Liked:

  • Portable and light
  • Quality build
  • Fast performance
  • Mac/Windows compatible
  • Plug and play

HP DVD600S

HP’s DVD600S is an ultra-thin, lightweight multi-format writer. Delivering the latest in optical technology, this writer has a 13.2 mm thickness and weighs just 250 grams. The writer can record on double- and single-layer technology.

No AC adapter is required, as the writer will be powered by the USB.

DVD read and write speeds are 8X, CD speeds are a fast 24X. While the USB cord is integrated into the writer, it is small and you can use an extender as needed. Aside from this small issue, the writer does as is advertised: writes and reads media.

What We Liked:

  • Slim and lightweight design
  • No AC adapter required
  • Compatible with Windows/Mac
  • Plug and play

ARCHGON USB 3.0 EXTERNAL BLU-RAY COMBO (MD-3102S-U3)

Archgon offers a Blu-ray combo that has a built-in Panasonic combo drive that can both read and write CD and DVD. Blu-ray discs are also able to be read. More expensive than other models, this unit is durable with a premium aluminum casing and uses USB 3.0 for faster writing speeds.

Of course, USB 2.0 is supported, too.

Cyberlink Media Suite is included. The unit will work with Windows 7 and up as well as Mac OS 10.8.5 and later. Keep in mind that while the drive can read a Blu-ray disc, it cannot write to Blu-ray (something a lot of consumers overlook).

What We Liked:

  • High build quality
  • Ideal for Blu-ray
  • Includes Cyberlink Media Suite

DELL USB DVD DRIVE (DW316)

Dell’s DW316 is a slim drive offering plug and play disc burning capabilities. This unit can be used at home or on the go, and it’s lightweight at 200g with a low profile of 14mm. You’ll find that the unit is an optical drive that has the pre-loaded CyberLink Media Suite.

Exceptional performance allows the DW316 to have write speeds as high as 24X for CD and 8X for DVD+RW discs.

Powered completely through USB, there’s no need for power cords or any other cords. Just plug the unit into your Mac or Windows computer or laptop, and you’re ready to go. However, blu-ray cannot be read on the DVD drive, but it’s an easy-to-use option that comes at an affordable price.

Modern PCs will automatically detect the drive when it’s plugged in, so it’s usable in seconds and is also quieter than most competing models.

What We Liked:

  • Good value
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Includes CyberLink Media Suite
  • Plug and play

FAQs

What Mediums Can a CD Recorder Extract from?
It’s all about the inputs of the CD recording system. With an RCA input, for example, any devices that support or have RCA out can be plugged in, with the audio recorded and burned to CD. As long as the devices are compatible, you can record outbound audio (inbound on the recorder) to a CD. 

Do CDs support lossless audio formats like FLAC?
Yes, they do, but because lossless files have higher fidelity, the digital files are larger, so you cannot fit as much music on a CD. FLAC files are about six times larger than MP3s.

How do you consolidate your music collection?
If you have a lot of CDs you can use a computer and ripping software to convert them to a digital format. That would allow you to upload the content to streaming services, or store them on a phone or portable media player.

If you have a lot of older mediums, like records, cassettes, or even eight-track tapes (Stereo 8) you’ll need to convert them using a recorder, much like the CD recorders listed above. You will also need to connect the original media player(s) into the recorder because they’re usually not directly compatible with older formats.

If your player cannot read your CD can you still convert it?
It depends on the physical damage that the disc incurred. Sometimes you can get lucky, but it’s safe to assume that if the CD won’t play in a home theater system or CD player, then a recorder is not going to be able to extract the audio.

What to Look For in CD Recorders

Inputs And Outputs

You want to make sure the CD recorder you choose is going to be compatible with your existing equipment. Does it include an input to hook up your current player, whether it’s a record player or cassette deck?

Recording Formats

True to their name, most CD recorders will record audio streams directly to a disc. However, some also record to digital formats like MP3, or other mediums. Consider what you need your recorder to do, and go from there.

Live Monitoring

If you want to be certain the recording is going well, you can always listen in with headphones, but the CD recorder or system must support it. If this is something you want to do, look for a headphone or AUX output you can use to listen live.

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