Asus’ SBW-06C1S-U is a slim external Blu-ray writer that’s almost small enough to fit into a coat pocket. It’s powered entirely from the USB bus, with no need for an external mains adaptor. It weighs only 380g, so could be a good choice of portable backup drive.
A Y-cable plugs into two USB 2.0 ports on the computer to draw enough power for a reliable burn. If you’re using a laptop, ensure it has enough ports and is fully charged.
Asus has tried to make the drive look more appealing than the usual black box with a few lights. It’s covered in glossy black plastic and, rather than use a standard LED status indicator, a criss-cross of transparent lines glow blue when the drive is in use. This looks far better than the LEDs at the front of most optical drives we’ve seen.
At four-speed, our 21GB image burned to disc in 30 minutes and 18 seconds. Using six-speed media the Asus managed 22 mins 7 secs. Both results were the slowest in our group test. Unlike other slim external Blu-ray writers, the drive was quiet when the disc was spinning.
How we tested
When using any backup medium, reliability is the number-one concern. If a BD-R disc recorded by a particular drive is unable to be read by another Blu-ray burner or playback device, it’s useless.
Since Blu-ray films are unable to be copied without first removing their AACS encryption, we used Nero Video to create a 21GB encryption-free Blu-ray video (BDMV) disc image, made up of several smaller files.
We then used Nero Burning ROM to copy this disc image to four-speed TDK and six-speed Verbatim discs. For each drive, we recorded how long it took to complete this test. If the BDMV then played in a standalone player, it was recorded as a successful burn.
We also paid attention to how noisy the drive was in operation, and the write speeds offered by Nero. It’s possible to exceed the disc speed rating with some drives.
Most important is whether a disc can be successfully burned at the top speed that both the media and drive support. Today’s media tops out at six-speed, and it’s essential that a Blu-ray drive can provide a sustained data rate to match – particularly when using cheap media.
We also used the free ImgBurn utility to measure performance. We didn’t test the drives’ CD and DVD performance.