Buffalo’s high-end external Blu-ray writer has a maximum write speed of 12-speed, which should be enough to burn a single-layer disc in 8 mins when connected to a PC via USB 3.0. The problem, for now, is that we’re limited to six-speed media – using which, its 10 mins 48 secs performance was the fastest result among all the drives here.

The Buffalo also put in a good showing with four-speed media, and wrote 21GB to disc in 16 mins 4 secs in our tests.

It’s expensive and rather bulky, roughly the same size as a standard internal optical drive, and it needs its own power supply. When a disc is spinning, the drive is only slightly louder than our PC’s whirring fans.

Despite the speed limitations of our blank media, Nero allowed us to write to disc at eight- and 12-speed. Performance here was strong, and the resulting discs were readable in a standalone DVD player.

When we tried the drive with a different disc-burning suite, using both TDK and Verbatim media, we found the speed came close to the claimed 12-speed write figure as the burn reached the edge of the disc.

Verdict: Excellent performance can be had from this Buffalo external Blu-ray writer, and things will only improve when 12-speed media becomes available. However, it’s pricey, bulky, and requires its own power supply.


Review from September 1, 2011

By Michael Burns & Andrew Harrison

The Buffalo MediaStation BR3D-12U3 is an external desktop Blu-ray writer. It’s equipped with USB 3.0, which according to Buffalo enables a burn speed of up to 12x.

It is also of course compatible with USB 2.0 ports, although documented write speeds are reduced to 8x when using such legacy connections.

Those numbers are all entirely moot though. The fastest BD-R blank media that’s been available for some time now is still only 6x speed. So right now you could use either USB 2.0 or 3.0 connections without affecting your real-life writing speed.

Of course the drive can read and write recordable CD and DVD media too, with listed writing speeds of 40x and 16x respectively. The drive ships with a utility called TurboUSB, which claims to improve transfer rates between the PC and Blu-ray drive. This feature was not tested.

As a general BD player the drive works very well indeed and is very quiet. Unlike some USB 2.0 external drives, this model requires a separate power supply to operate.

The drive is also supplied with a suite of out-of-date software for Windows from CyberLink. The CyberLink Media Suite features Power Director, and its cut down sibling Power Producer for authoring content. PowerDVD 9 is included for playing it.

CyberLink PowerBackup DVD Copy Software archives files, folders and application data, and you can opt to include or exclude files with filtering. Power2Go is a disc-burning utility with data encryption.

We experienced problems running the suite on a PC that had other video and disc authoring software installed, but it worked fine on another computer.

The experience wasn’t helped by the CyberLink software’s constant nag screens, asking us to pay to upgrade the suite of components to newer versions.

PowerProducer took well over an hour to prepare the motion menus for a video Blu-ray (total file size was 23MB), so we chose to burn the project to an image first, then to burn this instead.

This would take 12 minutes to burn. Using USB 2.0, a backup of 23GB (22,794MB) data in PowerBackup took 33 mins 10 secs. We tested the drive with a number of similar sized projects – with similar results.
A plus in favour of this suite is the CyberLink TrueTheater HD upscaling technology.

This converts 480p video (SD) to 1080p during playback, but also allows you to apply an upscaling algorithm to view or re-record DVD content or imported footage in ‘HD quality’. Whether it works well or not is not known.

There’s also support for 3D Blu-ray and 2D-to-3D DVD conversion with TrueTheater 3D, again untested. If you have compatible hardware like a 3D monitor and glasses, you could thus watch regular DVDs and videos in simulated 3D.

Buffalo MediaStation BR3D-12U3: Specs

  • External Blu-ray writer
  • USB 3.0
  • specified Blu-ray read/write speeds (*with TurboUSB enabled): 8x/12x* BD-R (SL), 8x/12x* BD-R (DL), 8x/2x BD-RE (SL), 6x/2x BD-RE (DL)
  • specified DVD read/write speeds: 16x/16x DVD±R, 12x/8x DVD±R DL, 12x/6x DVD-RW, 12x/8x DVD+RW, 5x/5x DVD-RAM
  • specified CD read/write speeds: 40x/40x CD-R, 24x/24x CD-RW
  • CyberLink Blu-Ray Disc Suite (PowerDVD 9 BD, PowerProducer 5, PowerDirector 8, Power2Go 6, PowerBackup 2, LabelPrint 2, Instant Burn 5)
  • 160 x 220 x 50mm
  • 1.2kg
  • External Blu-ray writer
  • USB 3.0
  • specified Blu-ray read/write speeds (*with TurboUSB enabled): 8x/12x* BD-R (SL), 8x/12x* BD-R (DL), 8x/2x BD-RE (SL), 6x/2x BD-RE (DL)
  • specified DVD read/write speeds: 16x/16x DVD±R, 12x/8x DVD±R DL, 12x/6x DVD-RW, 12x/8x DVD+RW, 5x/5x DVD-RAM
  • specified CD read/write speeds: 40x/40x CD-R, 24x/24x CD-RW
  • CyberLink Blu-Ray Disc Suite (PowerDVD 9 BD, PowerProducer 5, PowerDirector 8, Power2Go 6, PowerBackup 2, LabelPrint 2, Instant Burn 5)
  • 160 x 220 x 50mm
  • 1.2kg

OUR VERDICT

The Buffalo MediaStation BR3D-12U3 performed well as a writer and a player, with a good turn of speed and low noise levels. For general video editing there’s better software out there than the bundled Cyberlink suite.

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