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Lite-On eTAU208 USB External Optical Drive
Review by Daniel P. Dern
Lite-On  ISBN/ITEM#: B002QQ3VK2
Date: 16 February 2010

Links: Lite-On eTAU208 USB External Optical Drive / Show Official Info /

Readily findable at $49, Lite-On's External Slim eTAU208 Top-load DVD/CD writer offers netbook/ultralight users and others an affordable, portable USB-powered external optical reader/writer to toss in your travel kit, so you're prepared for those occasions when you need an optical drive.

As part of slimming down size and weight for portability, one thing that netbooks and most ultralight notebooks (3 pounds and under) have had to forego is an internal optical drive (CD/DVD reader/writer).

(Some manage to squeeze one in, like the Fujitsu LifeBook P8020 Notebook (http://store.shopfujitsu.com/fpc/Ecommerce/buildseriesbean.do?series=P8020), the Panasonic Toughbook W8 (http://www.panasonic.com/business/toughbook/toughbook-products.asp#/W8), and the Toshiba Portege R600 (http://laptops.toshiba.com/laptops/portege/R600) ... but not, say, the MacBook Air, or the smaller Lenovo notebooks.)

Most of the time, you probably won't need an optical drive. But occasions can still arise. For example, to access a Windows Recovery disk, install software that came on a CD, read (or save to USV or disk) a DVD movie or turn a music CD into MP3s, or (in my case), grab files from a conference/event CD or from a press kit CD.

If you feel that your travel (or home) "just-in-case" technology accessories should include an optical drive, and you don't need the fastest burn rates, but do care about budget, compactness and simplicity, you can't go wrong with the Lite-On External Slim eTAU208 Top-load DVD/CD writer.

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

Wallet-pleasingly priced at $49.99 (which I just found at Amazon.com, NewEgg.com, and TigerDirect.com), is about as small as an optical drive can get -- 142.1mm x 19.4mm x 143.8mm -- ditto lightweight: nine ounces on my local Post Office's scale (twelve and one-third ounces based on the 0.35Kg in the vendor specs).

By comparison, the Targus USB 2.0 Rewriteable DVD +/- RW Slim External Drive, while only slightly bigger (although the cable adds more bulk) weighs 16.6 ounces and currently goes for $179.99.

The Lite-On is USB-powered, and Plug-and-Play, listed as compatible with Windows Vista, Windows XP -- my XP desktop found it readily -- and Windows 2000, and Linux. The drive comes in four bright colors - white, red, blue and black -- and supports LightScribe direct disk labeling (on LightScribe media)

The main thing you sacrifice is writing speed: DVD+R 8X maximum, DVD+R DL 6X maximum and DVD-RAM 5X maximum. AC-powered and internal drives may go faster.

  • Cables and cable management are two of the external challenges for all peripherals, especially for devices intended to travel. Lite-On's sensible solution for the External Slim eTAU208 Top-load DVD/CD writer is to:
  • put a mini-USB port on the device, which means that you should be able to easily borrow or buy a cable if you forget or lose yours
  • include a "parking" slot for the short cable that Lite-On provides, on the bottom of the case (SEE PICTURE), making the cable easy to pack and harder to lose.

Unlike some external devices, the Lite-On only needs one USB cable. (Some, like the Targus, and some pocket hard drives, need two USB cables, to double up on power.)

In addition to the cable, the Lite-On optical drive includes a copy of Nero 8 software, on CD.

IT WORKS JUST FINE

I put a review unit through its paces, working with an HP notebook and my Windows XP desktop computer: read/installed software, played an audio CD, played a DVD movie, burned and played some MP3s, and burned a DVD. Everything worked fine.

Burning two gigabytes took longer than on my desktop optical drive, not surprisingly, but slower write speeds -- DVD+R 8X -- is the trade-off for an external optical drive that's less expensive. This isn't a criticism or a complaint; it's simply an observation, unless you need to burn DVDs or CDs as fast as possible,

You may want to get an additional -- longer USB cable. But that's probably something you're packing already anyway; if not, it should be.

Recommended. It will only take one non-entertainment use to pay for itself.

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