The Plextor PX-B120U is a one-trick pony - this external USB optical drive can play, but not record to, Blu-ray, DVD and CD discs

Although drives that can play BD-ROM media are now quite common, it’s still very difficult to find a well-priced model that works externally. The attractively styled Plextor PX-B120U (adorned with a stylish spiral design that looks as though it’s almost spinning around in the light) finds itself with a nice little niche to fill.

It’s light to carry, weighing just 0.6kg, and it draws its power entirely from USB, so you don’t need to carry around an additional power supply unit. Unusually, it’s a top-loading unit, rather than having a pop-out tray or slot feed.

Installing the Plextor PX-B120U is no harder than plugging in a USB storage device, and our Windows testbeds only took seconds to connect to the Plextor PX-B120U and see it as a new drive.

Of course, if you plan to watching Blu movies, you’ll also probably need to install playback software too. Luckily the bundled CyberLink software should only take a couple of minutes to set up.

CyberLink’s software is extremely popular with drive manufacturers, and PowerDVD’s bold interface makes it easy to drop in a film and start watching. PowerDVD 9 software is included, and while this isn’t the latest version of PowerDVD, it’s still new enough to contain many of the features you’ll want to make the most of Blu-ray – such as 3D facilities.

Playback was extremely smooth on the 4-speed Plextor, and the drive is extremely discreet, with only a very quiet whirring telling you that a disc is spinning.

The Plextor PX-B120U can only read BD-ROM and DVD media, so you won’t get the additional opportunity to even write to DVD-R or DVD+R blanks, let alone to BD-R. Although this will put off those who might want a drive that could double up as a portable DVD writer, many people may only need such a drive for its ability to play Blu-ray movies. With that in mind, the lack of DVD writing ought to be an insignificant omission.

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Plextor PX-B120U: Specs

  • External Blu-ray ROM drive
  • USB 2.0
  • max read speeds: 4x BD-ROM, 8x DVD-ROM, 24x CD-ROM
  • CyberLink PowerDVD 9 BD Suite with 3D
  • supports 12cm or 8cm diameter discs
  • 165 x 165 x 35mm
  • 0.6kg
  • 2-year warranty
  • External Blu-ray ROM drive
  • USB 2.0
  • max read speeds: 4x BD-ROM, 8x DVD-ROM, 24x CD-ROM
  • CyberLink PowerDVD 9 BD Suite with 3D
  • supports 12cm or 8cm diameter discs
  • 165 x 165 x 35mm
  • 0.6kg
  • 2-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

The Plextor PX-B120U is stylish, light and extremely portable, and it worked well through all of our tests. Costing roughly £70, it’s very good value compared with existing competition, such as the Freecom 33979 (which’ll set you back around an extra £50). The latter can obviously write to DVD media as well – but if all you want is an external drive that lets you play Blu-Ray media on multiple computers, then this Plextor is much the best deal out there.

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