Having two disc-labeling technology options is a plus, but the Lite-On eNAU608 portable optical drive delivered unimpressive performance.

It's nearly impossible to make a DVD burner stand out from the pack these days, but Lite-On comes close with its portable Lite-On eNAU608 USB 2.0 burner. The unit is small and light, and supports personalization via a graphics insert on the top of the drive. Even better, the drive supports both LightScribe and LabelTag - two laser-etching technologies that let you label your discs without resorting to cumbersome, unbalancing labels or a disc printer.(Lite-On's recent full-size burner, the IHAS524-T98, supports LabelTag but not LightScribe.)

LightScribe requires special media, but LabelTag works on the data side of any recordable DVD or CD. LabelTag does reduce the capacity of the disc, as it uses the dye area to do its inscribing; nevertheless, it's useful for people with lousy handwriting (such as yours truly). You probably won't fill a disc to capacity anyway, unless you're using it to create a backup.

In other respects, the Lite-On eNAU608 is a garden-variety drive with middling speed (its rated speed is comparable to that of other portable drives, but portables can't match the performance of full-size optical drives) and wide format support (CD, DVD+/-RW, DL, and RAM). The drive attaches to your system via USB, and has a mini-USB port on board. Lite-On supplies a two-to-one cable for drawing power from two USB ports simultaneously, in case one is underpowered. Most of the time, the Lite-On eNAU608 worked fine using a single port for reading or burning.

Lite-On bundles Nero Essentials to handle burning chores. You'll need it if you choose to use LabelTag: Essentials is the only software I'm aware of that supports LabelTag. Oddly, the software gives you the option to use LabelTag after you press burn, but the labeling process works well. How well a LabelTag label shows up depends on the color of dye the disc uses (darker is better) and on the font size you select. Larger fonts require more room and reduce capacity further.

Lite-On supplies several two-sided inserts for the top of the Lite-On eNAU608, though any light cardstock or standard photo will fit. Otherwise, the burner is rendered in shiny plastic (ours was black). It doesn't seem especially rugged, but that impression is due primarily to the unit's light weight. It should stand up to the rigors of traveling in a backpack or a notebook bag fairly well.

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Lite-On eNAU608: Specs

  • DVD±RW (±R DL)/DVD-RAM drive
  • External
  • Hi-Speed USB
  • DVD±RW (±R DL)/DVD-RAM
  • Read Speed: 24x (CD)/8x (DVD)
  • Write Speed: 24x (CD)/8x (DVD±R)/6x (DVD+R DL)
  • CD/DVD Rewrite Speed: 24x (CD)/6x (DVD-RW)/8x (DVD+RW)/5x (DVD-RAM)
  • LightScribe
  • CD Text, CD-DA (audio), CD-ROM XA, Mixed-mode CD, Photo CD, Video CD, DVD-Video
  • Supported Media Types: CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, DVD+R, DVD+R DL, DVD-R DL
  • Media Load Type: Tray
  • Access Time: 130 ms (CD), 180 ms (DVD)
  • Buffer Size: 1.5MB
  • SMART Burn
  • 141x133x19mm
  • 300g
  • DVD±RW (±R DL)/DVD-RAM drive
  • External
  • Hi-Speed USB
  • DVD±RW (±R DL)/DVD-RAM
  • Read Speed: 24x (CD)/8x (DVD)
  • Write Speed: 24x (CD)/8x (DVD±R)/6x (DVD+R DL)
  • CD/DVD Rewrite Speed: 24x (CD)/6x (DVD-RW)/8x (DVD+RW)/5x (DVD-RAM)
  • LightScribe
  • CD Text, CD-DA (audio), CD-ROM XA, Mixed-mode CD, Photo CD, Video CD, DVD-Video
  • Supported Media Types: CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, DVD+R, DVD+R DL, DVD-R DL
  • Media Load Type: Tray
  • Access Time: 130 ms (CD), 180 ms (DVD)
  • Buffer Size: 1.5MB
  • SMART Burn
  • 141x133x19mm
  • 300g

OUR VERDICT

The Lite-On eNAU608 is as versatile and handsome a portable DVD burner as you can find, but it's not the model to go for if high-speed performance is a must.

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