Samsung SE-T084M/RSWD: Slick, slim, external optical drive

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Nov 15, 2008 by Mike Chin

Samsung SE-T084M/RSWD
Portable Slim Slot DVD-writer
Sample Supplier
Samsung Canada
Market Price

Some products create a eureka! burst in your mind as soon as you see them. The Samsung SE-T084M/RSWD is one of them. Samsung's subtitle for it is just as long as the model number: 8X TruDirect SpeedPlus Slot-in External Slim DVD-Writer. The last few words are the most essential. It is a portable optical disk writer barely bigger than two standard CD clamshell cases and weighing under a pound. The small size and weight is perfectly enhanced by its power requirements: It needs no wall-wart for AC power, because its USB cable draws power for the unit from the PC that it's connected to. Brilliant and obvious.

It comes in a small colorful retail box.

The look is appealing: Clean, minimalist and Mac-ish. All the logos and text on the white plastic are actually part of the protective clear plastic sheet that hasn't been peeled off the review sample.

The included padded sleeve isn't well designed, as it leaves two corners and one side exposed. Making it slightly longer and giving it a velcro-equipped flap, as well as a pocket for the USB cable would have made it much more useful.

The recent proliferation of netbooks, sub-10" screen mini-laptops that eschew the optical drive is the primary reason for the existence of the SE-T084M/RSWD. Demand for this product would have been virtually nonexistent in the past, as almost all standard laptops and desktops come equipped with optical disk writers. Today, there are scores of fashionable pseudogeeks lounging in Starbucks all over the world who may feel the need for occasional optical disk access for their slick Mac Air or other ODD-less machines, perhaps to copy music/video from or onto CDs/DVDs for/from their friends. This device is perfect for them.

Presumably, more serious mobility-loving notebook users wouldn't want to tote even this little Samsung accessory, but they might find it very handy to have available from time to time. Certainly, the ardent amateur movie maker or trigger-happy still photographer with one of the new >10 megapixel digital SLRs might want to toss it in his equipment bag on his travels. It's hard to imagine, however, why a serious video photographer would forego a big, powerful full-featured laptop for video editing, and such a laptop would almost always have an optical drive.

The other question is whether a mobile optical disc writer is really necessary in this age of cheap USB flash drives. Today, 8GB flash drives and SDHC cards can be found for well under $20, and 16GB models start at only just a little over $30. You could have more than half a dozen 8GB USB flash drives for the cost of one of these Samsung optical drives. Jump to $70 and you find 32GB flash drive models. The answer probably depends on your needs. If only an optical disc will do, and you're in minimal AC power conditions with notebooks that don't have optical writers, then this is an absolute necessity.

So what can this wee thing do? Samsung's features highlights and specifications are quite extensive.

Feature Our Comment
TruDirect™ real time recording
No need for space in HDD, direct recording to ODD. The total recording time will be cut to almost half.
· Creating DVD title from 1 hr video stream: about 1 hr 5 min
· Creating DVD title from 1 hr HDD Camcorder file (4.1 GB): 30 min
This feature probably saves time and energy consumption, always an issue when dealing with portables running on battery power.
Light Scribe
Direct Disc Labelling technology burns labels directly onto your CDs and DVDs with laser-etched precision.
The same technology found in lots of standard optical writers.
12 cm and 8cm disc support
Supports both 12 cm and 8 cm standard round type disc.
Some digital video cameras use 8cm discs, so this could be a very useful function.
USB BUS Powered
No AC adaptor needed.
Yes! But how much power does it draw, and how does that impact laptop run time on batteries?
WriteMaster technologies
Double OPC, Tilt actuator compensation, Buffer under run, Firmware live update, RoHS eco-product
Sounds good.
Manual Disc Eject function
Easy disc eject without power supply.
It needs a straightened paper clip like standard optical drives.

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