The Plextor B310U BD is a slick, glossy black external DVD/CD burner, and Blu-ray disc ROM. It cuts DVD’s at 16x and CD’s at 48x. It can read Blu-ray at 6x, but note that it does NOT write blu-ray … if you’re looking for that you’ll have to step up to a pro model (and pay quite a bit more).
Stepping through the basics, I’ve got to say that the installation was one of the easiest that I’ve done in a long time! You connect it up to your USB and then turn it on. There’s no driver disks, no need to download stuff off the Internet, you literally just plug it in, wait a minute and it’s ready to go! I installed it in this manner on both my Dell Latitude loaded with XP and also an Acer with Vista Home Premium with the same results. It brings the ‘play’ back to ‘plug and play’ like it’s meant to be!
After installation, I found that the B310U was recognized and usable by all native windows and any 3rd party apps I threw at it, including iTunes, Windows media Player, Roxio, and the included CyberLink BD Suite and PlexUTILITIES. The latter software was very user-friendly and easy to understand. If you don’t already have a video compilation tool, data or audio burning suite that you’re using you won’t find much to be disappointed with in Plextor’s offering. It’s not an extremely comprehensive or deep set of tools like you would find with Roxio Creator or Adobe’s video suites or the like, but it’s a lot more than I expected would be thrown in the box as a party favor – it really does stand on it’s own as a decent set of tools for both video and audio, DVD and CD burning.
The speed of the unit was really great – it nailed the specs and even seemed to exceed the 16x and 48x given … it certainly blew away the speed I’m used to for my built-in DVD burner I’ve got in the Latitude.
I also grabbed a Blu-ray disc to view, and it performed well using the PlexUTILITIES suite on my screen. My laptop doesn’t have great video, but it certainly had a nice high-def feel to it and the system played flawlessly and without hesitation throughout “Night at the Museum” for the kids.
I had a tough time writing this review – it’s so much easier to get motivated about writing something when there’s a problem, or it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to …. and that just isn’t the case here. If I struggle to find something wrong, it’s simply a lack. I had hoped that the unit would include a bit more advanced Blu-ray playback capabilities and it seems that for just a little bit extra they could have thrown in the ability to play back Blu-ray direct to TV, or put in a remote and IR to make watching on your PC a little more like ‘regular’ movie watching. This may not be a fair ding against the B310U however, as it clearly wasn’t designed as an entertainment unit (even though their features page says “Turn your PC into a Hi-Def Entertainment System”), but as a storage device. As a storage device/burner it performs extremely well – get it for it’s outstanding capabilities on that front, and consider the Blu-ray playback an extra and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!
Overall Rating – 4 out of 5 Chips