TThe LG BE06 is a stylish external Blu-ray drive that can be plugged into any PC with a spare USB 2.0 port.

The LG BE06 is undeniably stylish to look at too, with its glossy white casing and touch-sensitive eject pad. And it works equally well whether standing vertically or horizontally.

The old debate about whether to buy Blu-ray or HD DVD may have been replaced by a new one questioning whether Blu-ray will itself be able to compete with the online services of the future. Regardless of the outcome, you can expect to see a number of new Blu-ray drives coming out over the next 12 months.

What might distinguish drives like such as this LG BE06 and the Buffalo BRHC-6316U2 from their rivals is that both drives are external models. And, being external, it's a cinch to install.

The LG BE06 can be plugged into any PC with a spare USB 2.0 port - although you'll also need to connect an additional power supply, which does reduce the convenience.

The LG is extremely versatile. Those who got caught on the wrong side of the Blu-ray vs HD DVD battle will be pleased to see that they can read (but not write to) HD DVD media from the drive. It's nice that those with existing HD DVD titles can continue to view them for the duration of the LG BE06's life.

In addition, the LG BE06 is adept at playing back DVD- and CD-ROMs, so giving you access to the full range of formats. DVDs can be written to, and while the speeds don't quite compare to those of the very fastest standalone DVD writers, they do generally come close.

Only the quad-speed DVD-R DL/+R DL formats are significantly slower. The LG BE06 offers LightScribe, letting you print images and captions on to special DVDs. As with normal DVD writers, this is a nice feature for those putting together disc compilations, although the 20 minute-plus time needed to print images, and the lack of colour, will put off many.

Blu-ray write speeds are fairly generous. The 25GB write-once BD-R SL (Single Layer) format can theoretically be pushed to six-speed using the LG BE06. We say theoretically because it's not actually possible to buy six-speed BD-R media yet. Indeed, even quad-speed media is relatively rare (although this situation should change in the next few months).

NEXT PAGE: testing the Buffalo LG BE06, and our expert verdict > >

Visit Digital World for the latest digital audio, games and home-entertainment news and reviews

The LG BE06 is a stylish external Blu-ray drive that can be plugged into any PC with a spare USB 2.0 port.

In testing, we found that the LG BE06 filled a Blu-ray disc in 40 minutes and 41 seconds at two-speed, and in 26 minutes and 55 seconds at quad-speed. This made it marginally slower than the similarly specified Buffalo BRHC-6316U2.

These trends were repeated when using the drive with two-speed BD-R DL (Double Layer) and RE (rewriteable) media. In all honesty, these aren't significant differences in speed, and for practical purposes these drives are similar on performance.

The LG BE06's software bundle consists of the CyberLink Suite. This has proven an early favourite with Blu-ray manufacturers looking for some OEM software to bundle with their drives, and it's little wonder. The interface is relatively smooth, and although there are still a few reliability kinks to remove from the BD software, the general impression is very positive.

Visit Digital World for the latest digital audio, games and home-entertainment news and reviews

LG BE06: Specs

  • USB 2.0
  • Max read speeds 6x/4.8x/3x (BD-ROM/-ROM DL/HD DVD)
  • Max Blu-Ray write speeds 6x/4x/2x/2x (BD-R/-R DL/-RE/-RE DL)
  • Max DVD speeds 16x/16x/4x/4x/6x/8x/5x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • Max CD speeds 40x/24x/40x (CD-R/-RW/-ROM)
  • Max storage capacity 50GB
  • CyberLink Suite
  • LightScribe
  • 1-year warranty
  • USB 2.0
  • Max read speeds 6x/4.8x/3x (BD-ROM/-ROM DL/HD DVD)
  • Max Blu-Ray write speeds 6x/4x/2x/2x (BD-R/-R DL/-RE/-RE DL)
  • Max DVD speeds 16x/16x/4x/4x/6x/8x/5x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • Max CD speeds 40x/24x/40x (CD-R/-RW/-ROM)
  • Max storage capacity 50GB
  • CyberLink Suite
  • LightScribe
  • 1-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

Blu-ray isn't tumbling in price just yet, and the LG BE06 isn't exactly cheap. The LG BE06, though, is slightly more expensive than its main rival from Buffalo BRHC-6316U2. Admittedly, the difference amounts to just a few pounds, and even given the increased speed of the Buffalo BRHC-6316U2 we prefer the LG for its generally slicker look and features. In our opinion, this is the best choice for those seeking a capable external Blu-Ray drive.

Find the best price