capsule review

Buffalo Technology BR-816SU2 External Blu-ray Burner

At a Glance
  • Buffalo Technology MediaStation 8X External Blu-ray Writer

    PCWorld Rating

Buffalo's BR-816SU2 external USB/eSATA Blu-ray burner ($310 as of 9/3/09) is a winner, at least in performance--in my tests the drive performed as advertised, writing in times commensurate with its rating. It also played Blu-ray movies nicely, without stutters or slowdowns.

Its speeds and feeds are state of the art all the way: It's rated to handle single-layer BD-R at 8X write and 8X read, double-layer BD-R at 6.5X write and 7.2X read, and both single-layer and double-layer BD-RE at 2X write and 2X read.

This external model packs a Matshita SW5584 drive inside, and it also writes/reads DVD-RAM at 5X/5X, single-layer DVD-R at 16X/16X, double-layer DVD-R at 8X/8X, DVD-RW at 6X/8X, single-layer DVD+R at 16X/16X, double-layer DVD+R at 8X/8X, DVD+RW at 8X/8X, CD-R at 48X/48X, and CD-RW at 24X/32X.

My only real complaint about the BR-816SU2 is the rather fragile manner in which the front door is attached (not the tray mechanism itself, but the outside panel that the tray pushes when it slides out). I inadvertently hit it with my elbow, with only a moderate amount of force, and I wound up having to spend 5 minutes searching for and reattaching a tiny spring clip.

I would also have liked to see a newer version of the CyberLink BD Solution software that shipped with the drive. It's a competent bundle, but a little long in the tooth compared with the version bundled with the LG WH08LS20. PowerDVD 7.03.4603 provides Blu-ray and DVD movie playback capability, PowerProducer 4.40.2609 captures and edits video, PowerDirector 6.50.3025 lets you author CD/DVD/AVCHD/Blu-ray movie discs, MediaShow 3.00.5117 creates photo slide shows, and PhotoNow 1.0 does image touchup.

Also on hand is Power2Go 5.5.1.4809 for burning data to CD, DVD, and Blu-ray; ripping CD audio; converting audio (WMA/MP3/.wav), and burning DVD movie structures to disc. It also creates and burns images (in CyberLink's .p2i format as well as standard .iso). Finally, PowerBackup 2.50.4511 is included to back up your files. The only thing missing is LabelPrint, which more recent versions include.

Though I was a bit put off by the door incident, and though I don't quite understand why this Blu-ray drive comes with the older OEM software, overall I think the Buffalo BR-816SU2 performed well--and burners don't get any faster.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Pros

    • Fast performance down the line
    • Beefy case

    Cons

    • Front door is fragile
    • Bundled software is old
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