They say that you can't tell a book by its cover, and that is definitely true for the Buffalo MediaStation 8x External Blu-ray Writer.
The Buffalo MediaStation's clunky black case - with the flimsy door that doesn't match the putty-coloured drive mechanism it holds - looks like a bit like a do-it-yourself job assembled from the cheapest parts possible.
And, in fact, in our tests the spring came off of the little door that flips open when the tray is ejected, and after struggling with it for a few minutes, we finally decided to just leave the thing off. But despite its outward appearance, the Buffalo MediaStation turned out to be one of the fastest, most stable Blu-ray drives we tested.
As its name implies, the Buffalo MediaStation 8X External Blu-ray Writer can burn 25GB Blu-ray (BD-R) discs at speeds up to 8x. It can also record 50GB BD-R DL discs at 4X.
You can burn high definition Blu-ray discs to watch on your home theatre, component Blu-ray players using a plug-in. Aside from Blu-ray media, the drive can burn all flavours of DVD, +/-, RW, DL, as well as CDs and CD-R discs.
You can connect the Buffalo MediaStation via USB 2.0 or if you have an eSATA card installed, the MediaStation includes a port for that too. Interestingly, despite that eSATA is supposed to be a faster connection, three different eSATA-equipped BD-R drives we tested delivered little, if any, speed benefit over USB 2.0 or FireWire connections.
In terms of speed, the Buffalo MediaStation took about 11 minutes to burn and verify 4.7GB to a DVD-R disc in the Finder using either USB or eSATA, a task that took the stock SuperDrive in our 3.0GHz 8-core Mac Pro 22 minutes and 43 seconds to complete.
Copying that data back to the desktop took just under 5 minutes using eSATA and 16 seconds longer over USB. In both of these tests, the Buffalo MediaStation's eSATA times were the fastest we've seen in Blu-ray burners we tested recently. In fact, the Buffalo MediaStation was the fastest drive we've tested recently.
NEXT: our expert verdict >>