capsule review

Plextor PX-LB950UE External Blu-ray Burner Does Smooth, Responsive Blu-ray Playback

At a Glance
  • Plextor PX-LB950UE

    PCWorld Rating

    Finally you can play Blu-ray movies from an external drive with no hesitation or hiccups; plus, you get 12X Blu-ray Disc writing, too.

If you're using an external drive to add Blu-ray to your PC, Plextor's PX-LB950UE opens up some new possibilities. Playing Blu-ray movies via USB 2.0 is doable, but just barely (features such as fast forward and rewind don't respond as they should, and heavy activity on the bus can interrupt playback). By contrast, the $240 PX-LB950UE--which has both USB 3.0 and eSATA ports--has the throughput to make watching Blu-ray the responsive experience you get from an internal Blu-ray drive.

The PX-LB950UE's Blu-ray performance specs include swift 12X writing of BD-R, 8X dual-layer BD-R writing, 2X writing of dual- and single-layer rewritable BD, and 8X reading of BD-ROM. DVD write speeds top out at 8X for DVD-R, 6X for DVD-RW, and 12X for DVD-RAM. The drive also writes CD-R/RW at 48X/24X.

The PX-LB950UE ships with the highly competent, but slightly annoying (because of the abounding ads and upgrade notices) CyberLink BD Suite of Blu-ray/DVD/CD applications. PowerDVD 9 takes care of movie playback, PowerDirector 7 helps you create and edit your own movies, and you get a host of other applications for creating video, music, and data discs.

So how does the PX-LB950UE perform? Quite well, as our tests showed. Blu-ray movie playback across the USB 3.0 and eSATA buses was smooth as silk, and writing approximately 22GB to 6X-rated BD-R media took 11 minutes, 19 seconds. That's about 32MB per second, or 2GB per minute, and around 7X--average for a 12X-rated drive. As with faster DVD, BD burns start slow and increase in speed. And as noted up front, the PX-LB950UE truly replicates internal-drive playback: I had a trouble-free, responsive experience while watching Blu-ray movies.

This drive is not cheap, but if you want the best external optical drive going, and one that will actually play a Blu-ray movie with ease, the PX-LB950UE is what you want.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Finally you can play Blu-ray movies from an external drive with no hesitation or hiccups; plus, you get 12X Blu-ray Disc writing, too.

    Pros

    • Plays Blu-ray movies smoothly
    • Speedy disc writer

    Cons

    • Pricey
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