Product Type: Samsung DVD Burner
Newest Review: ... After looking everywhere for the most convenient option I decided to get the Samsung SE-s084C for a reasonable price of 23.99. The des... more
Samsung's Sleek and Chic Black Beauty
Member Name: Hishyeness
Advantages: Versatile, lightweight and easy to use.
Disadvantages: A little power hungry. Do you really need one?
Having secured a job after almost seven months of "resting" during a recent career break, I decided to treat myself to a nifty new netbook. The main difference between a netbook and its larger, laptop cousin is the absence of an integral DVD drive. I was absolutely convinced I would need one to install software, watch DVD's and upload CD's to my iPod. As the whole point of having a netbook is its ultra-portability, I needed an external drive that was slim, light and USB powered (i.e. no additional plugs). Samsung's SE-S084C External DVD writer seemed to fit the bill, so I ordered one at the same time as my N220, also from Samsung.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX
The drive comes in a very well-padded box that's about four times the size of the actual product. Along with drive, you get a USB cable, a quick start guide and a CD-ROM which includes the user manual and some free bundled software (Nero Express Essentials). Since the drive is USB-powered, the cable has a "Y" connection at one end with two USB plugs. The idea is that if one USB port does not have enough power to operate the drive, you simply plug the second plug into an available (adjoining) USB port to give it enough juice. As it happens, the ports on my Samsung netbook were sufficiently powered to make the second plug unnecessary. The instructions do say that normal operation "cannot be guaranteed" if the supplied cable is not used, but I have tried a variety of replacements with no operational issues. The SE-S084C comes in a variety of colour finishes (black, silver, white, blue, sky-blue, pink and red at last check) and, although all of them provide exactly the same functionality and software, they tend to vary in price from £36 to £40. For the record, mine is black and I paid £36 for it via Amazon.co.uk.
The unit certainly lives up to its slim-line name, measuring a very bijou 5.5 x 6 x 0.5 inches, in other words, marginally bigger and slightly thinner than two standard CD-ROM jewel cases. It is also very light, weighing in at an impressively light 350g (12oz) without a CD inside. The saving on weight does not seem to have come at the expense of build quality, and, despite its hard plastic finish, it doesn't look, or indeed feel cheap or "plasticky". It has a minimalist but sleek appearance with a shiny black finish on top (with the Samsung branding in grey lettering emblazoned across the top) which is easily scratched and has proved to be a magnet for fingerprints. The bottom is finished in matt black with four small rubber feet which do a decent job of gripping surfaces and keeping the unit stable in use. The sides and the front of the tray are moulded in a grey corrugated plastic. The small micro-USB port, where you plug in the cable to your computer, is located at the back. The front panel has one simple eject button, a green indicator light and a small pinhole to allow CD's to be manually ejected when the unit is not powered.
A QUIET & DILIGENT WORKER
There is no software to install, at least when I plugged it in to my netbook, which runs the new Windows 7 operating system (in any event, drivers are included on the CD if you need them). After the usual messages from the PC about detecting new hardware and the like, the unit was ready to go in less than twenty seconds. The tray pops open with a subdued click when you press the eject button and slides out effortlessly to receive the CD. However, I noticed the first sign of a compromise between weight and build when using my thumb to push the tray in while, at the same time, putting my forefinger on top of the unit for support. The glossy plastic top noticeably bends when you put pressure on it, making the tray impossible to click shut. As such, you have to load it two handed (the rubber feet don't provide enough resistance to push the spring-loaded tray in with one hand) by holding the sides with your forefingers and using your thumbs to push it shut. Trust me, it's easier than it sounds and is more of a niggle than a problem.
Apart from a barely audible hum when a CD or DVD is initially loaded, operation is whisper quiet. Having read some negative reviews about the bundled Nero software, I opted not to install it, preferring instead to use the latest version of Windows Media Player, which was pre-installed on my netbook. So far, after a month of fairly heavy and consistent use, operation has been extremely reliable and practically faultless. The drive handles the tasks of both burning and reading DVDs and CDs effortlessly. On the "read" side of things, I mainly use it to upload CD's to my iTunes, install software, watch DVD movies and play one or two games. As I have a 1GB USB flash drive, I tend not to archive my documents off on to CD, but I have successfully created mix CD's for the car.
This isn't the fastest DVD/CD-writer you'll ever have, but that's not really the point. If you have masses of data to copy from and/or write to, you're probably not going to be using a low-spec netbook to do it with. However, it is an excellent drive for what it is - a lightweight, ultra-portable data writer for use on the go. For tech heads the full specs are referenced below for completeness, but when using Windows Media Player, an album of around 11 tracks (an hour of music) took about eight minutes to burn. The completed CD pops out when the burn is complete, but you can change that setting in the software application used to do the burn.
One thing to keep in mind is that the increased portability of the drive, which is achieved by making it USB powered, comes at a power cost to your PC. In the eight minutes that it took to burn a CD-ROM, my netbook's battery went from eight hours of capacity, to just over four, so if battery life is an issue on your netbook, it's best to use the drive when your netbook is powered from the mains. There seems to be less of an effect on power consumption when you are reading from the drive (as opposed to writing), which is crucial given that I regularly use it to watch DVD's while on the go.
REQUIRED OR REDUNDANT?
The one thing that has struck me since buying my netbook/drive combo is how little I use the drive for the tasks I bought it for. I get or buy most of my music from on-line sources, there are plenty of facilities and web-sites (Samsung itself has bundled one with my netbook) that allow you to purchase or rent electronic copies of movies, and even software providers are now allowing you to download previously off the shelf software and games (Microsoft Office and EA Games are good examples) from their web-sites and activate them by buying the necessary Licence Key.
As such, the need to have an external DVD/CD writer is much diminished. The IT world seems to have embraced and catered for the drive-less netbook by embracing its raison d'être - using and cruising the internet - as the primary source of delivery for the applications it requires. That means that buying a product such as this DVD/CD writer isn't such a no-brainer anymore. I would seriously consider what you will be using it for before making a purchase, as the prevalence of far-smaller USB flash drives and memory cards (with increasing large capacities) is starting to make these sorts of drives look a little redundant (at least in my case). In fact, I already have my beady eye on a large capacity ultra-portable external USB hard drive (such as the 500GB WD passport).
Putting aside any arguments about whether it is really necessary, the Samsung SE-S084C is an excellent piece of kit. Ignoring the software bundled with it, as an ultra-portable, self-powered, whisper quiet DVD & CD-writer, you won't be able to do much better in the value for money stakes. It looks pretty flash as well, and is an attractive, sleek looking partner to my Samsung N220 netbook. Apart from the minor loading niggle, the only thing I would mark it down for is the lack of a case to accompany it. The glossy black finish on top of the unit is prone to finger-prints and scratching, and I would strongly recommend some kind of cover for it, or at least a netbook bag with a separate compartment to keep it looking good.
Highly recommended - but seriously think about whether you need it first.
Review Model: Samsung SE-S084C
Reads and writes: CD-R (24x); CD-RW (16x); DVD-R (8x) DVD-RW (6x)
USB Powered (USB 2.0)
OS: Windows 2000, XP & Vista, Linux and Mac OSX all newer versions
CPU: Atom 1.6Ghz (for netbooks) & Pentium 4 2Ghz (for PCs & laptops)
Full details at: http://tinyurl.com/2fxwd8q
© Hishyeness 2010
Summary: A very good, value for money ultra-portable CD & DVD-ROM drive
More reviews in the field of DVD Burner
- A good quality quiet drive
- Apple external Superdrive
- NEC ND-3540A - silent DVD drive!
- Nice and portable in a choice of colours
- Fantastic disc duplicator at an amazing price
- Super Multi? I'll Buy It!
- SAMSUNG SH-S222BB/RSMS
- A Great Little Writer (Not A Book Writer However)
- Does what it says on the tin!
- Necessary if you have a newer MacBook, very fast, compact, reliable.