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

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TEST RESULTS ON THE DESKTOP PC

Optical Drive Power on Desktop PC
Task
LG GSA-H10A
Samsung SE-T084
AC Power
Time
AC Power
Time
idle
77W
-
78W
-
read disk
80W
-
80~82W
-
play audio CD
90W
-
87W
-
burn audio CD - 550mb
93~98W
3:17
83~85W
4:52
rip audio CD - 550mb
90W
2:18
86W
3:35
burn DVD - 3.8gb
84W
11:10
86W
12:40
play standard DVD
84W
-
84W
-
play 1080i MP4 clip
102-104W
-
98W
-
System idle power: 77W

As expected, the speed of the Samsung slim external ODD is considerably slower, but its power demand is lower as well. It seems a bit odd that the power used during burning is lower than during audio CD playback, but this is probably a reflection of the faster read speed (compared to the write speed); the motor is simply spinning faster and drawing more power as a result.

The maximum increase in AC power was 10W, during playback of an audio CD, a task for which the drive is audibly spinning at its highest speed. It would be nice to be able to slow the drive down, as the high speed is unnecessary for such a routine task, but Nero Drive Speed does not work through USB, at least not for this drive. Factoring in the efficiency losses of the PC's power supply, the increased DC power demand is 7~8W. This increase includes whatever the rest of the computer (CPU, memory, audio and storage subsystems) uses for the task of audio playback, so it's probably safe to say the portion demanded by the Samung is under the 5W maximum of the USB ports.

TEST RESULTS ON THE NETBOOK

This is the more relevant series of tests. The basic setup was to remove the battery from the Asus netbook and use the AC adapter so that its power consumption could be monitored without worrying about the power used to charge the battery.

Power on Netbook: Samsung SE-T084M/RSWD
Task
AC Power
Time
idle
15W
-
read disk
16~20W
-
play audio CD
16~17W
-
burn audio CD
21~22W
4:26
rip audio CD -550mb
21W
3:48
burn DVD -3.8gb
17W
12:52
play standard DVD
18W
-
play 1080i MP4 clip
22W
-
System idle power: 14W. The battery of the Asus Eee PC 1000H was removed, and the AC adapter was used. This procedure eliminates the power used to charge the battery.

The base AC power draw for the netbook at idle was 14W. The maximum power draw with the Samsung SE-T084 was 22W, or 8W higher than the baseline. Again, adjusting for the power conversion losses in the AC/DC adapter, we can estimate real peak DC power demand to be about 6W, which includes increased power demand from the rest of the computer to execute the task. The AC power measurements, when converted to percentages, should reflect accurately the power differences when running on the battery: In short, at maximum load, the operation of the Samsung external ODD demands up to 58% more energy over the netbook's idle power.

The power profile suggests that for a small laptop with a small battery, the intelligent way to use the Samsung SE-T084 is to transfer files to/from it, then disengage it — probably the way most users would instictively use it.

ACOUSTICS

And what of noise? Yes, this is Silent PC Review, so it has to be mentioned.

The truth about optical drives is that they are all noisy when spinning fast. It's unavoidable, because no disk is perfectly balanced, which is what is needed for low vibrational noise, and the air turbulence noise alone is enough to push the SPLs up. The best you can ask for is that the basic mechanism is smooth in operation,and slow down the spin rate when possible. As mentioned earlier, Nero Drive Speed did not work with this Samsung. The typical silent PC aficionado simply avoids using the optical drive.

When it's ripping a CD, the unit spins fastest and makes a fair amount of noise. This was true of all CD functions on both PCs, except for playing audio CDs on the Asus Eee PC, when the spin speed dropped for some reason, and made less noise, more than 10 dBA lower from a meter away. All the DVD functions made less noise, except for the accessing and playing of the huge mp4 file.

ACOUSTICS: SPL of Samsung SE-T084M/RSWD
TASK
Desktop PC
Netbook
read disk
26~32
play audio CD
32
20
burn audio CD
32
rip audio CD -550mb
32
burn DVD -3.8gb
20
play standard DVD
20
play 1080i MP4 clip
32
All values are SPL measurements in dBA at 1m distance.

CONCLUSIONS

The positive first impression — of a nifty, stylish and useful accessory for this new era of ultra-mobile ubiquitous computing — remained after a week of use and testing. The functionality of the Samsung slim external DVD writer is very good, certainly good enough for the tasks it will be used for. Some users will say that optical disks are passé as USB flash memory sticks grow in capacity and plummet in price, but for many, there is something reassuringly familiar about a CD or DVD. Plus, let's face it, we all still have software that needs to be installed from an optical disk; you might just consider it an optical disk reader, and the writer portion then becomes a bonus.

Our assessment is simple: If you are the user of a small laptop that doesn't have an optical drive, and you need a portable optical drive to accompany your laptop from time to time, the Samsung SE-T084M/RSWD is perfect for you. It should be, as it was made expressly for you. It's too bad the included carry pouch is poorly executed, but nothing is perfect, and at least the pouch doesn't really change the functionality of the product.

If we're allowed to keep it, our sample will find a welcome home here in the SPCR lab. We routinely and repeatedly install Windows on systems built up for review and bench testing. An AC-powered external optical drive is most often used for this purpose, along with some internal optical drives, but the Samsung's single cable convenience is seductive. It might also keep company for the Eee PC on business trips... if for nothing but the geek wow factor.

* Our thanks to Samsung Canada for the SE-T084M/RSWD sample. *

* * *

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