User Rating: Very Good
Ease of Use:
Pros:Powered by USB port, reads CD and DVD discs, attractive black case
Cons:Somewhat slow at reading discs, short USB cable provided.
The Bottom Line: The Targus ADV01US USB External DVD-ROM drive will let you watch movies or install an operating system on your computer or netbook.
My ASUS 1005HA netbook and Zotac GeForce8200-ITX AM2 motherboard came without the ability to use a DVD-ROM drive. After a quick search online, I found the Targus External USB 2.0 DVD-ROM drive. I was looking for the cheapest way to just install Windows XP Professional on my new AMD motherboard but some other interesting details came out that made regret the purchase.
Recommend this product?
How easy is it to begin using this external DVD-ROM drive?
What are the drawbacks to a DVD-ROM USB 2.0 drive?
Read On To Find Out!
Packaging And Shipment
I ordered this external DVD-ROM drive from Amazon.com because of their prompt shipping and robust order tracking capabilities. When the package arrived it was inside a brown box filled with plastic air bags. Inside the box was a large clear plastic case which held the Targus DVD drive, a brief product flyer and a four part, fold out instruction manual.
Physical Dimensions Of The Targus ADV01US External DVD Drive
The all plastic case of this product is built with a deep black, high gloss finish that looks great when sitting next to my ASUS 1005HA netbook. The USB external drive itself measures approximately 5.75" x 5.75 x 1" and stands about 6" tall when the lid is fully opened. The clam shell opening drive uses a small button in the top of the case to open. The 11 ounce drive weighs a little more than a can of Coca Cola and fits smoothly in a backsack or laptop back. So that you do not have to fumble around for cables, the USB cable fits into the bottom of the case when not in use.
Installing Your Targus 8x External DVD ROM Drive
Plug it into your netbook or desktop computer using the USB cable that is supplied.
You should note that no DVD-ROM movie playback software is provided with this Targus product. In fact, no drivers are even provided because it is really designed for use with netbooks and laptop computers that already come with operating systems that will recognize this USB player. If you wish to watch movies but do not want to pay for expensive playback software, consider downloading VLC media player.
The great news is that new motherboards like Intel Socket 775, Socket 1366 and AMD Socket AM2 or Socket AM3 feature a system BIOS that can read these USB DVD drives as bootable system devices. I was able to read this product on boot with both the Zotac GeForce8200-ITX AM2 and ASUS M4A785-M AM3 motherboards. A Windows XP Professional install with this drive will be slower than even with an IDE CD-ROM drive but at least you can get it done.
When this drive is running, it is slightly louder than the sound a 10" metal fan would make on low setting. Please consider this if you want to watch DVD movies while listening to them using the internal speakers of a netbook. You could get a little bothered by the sound.
USB DVD-ROM Performance And Benchmarks
To get the optimal performance from the Targus USB DVD ROM drive, you want to ensure it is plugged into a USB 2.0 port on your computer. The drive will also pull up to 500ma of power from your netbook or laptop when plugged in. Keep this in mind while using it since it will tend to pull a lot more of your reserve battery power while watching movies or just copying files.
Real World File Transfer;
I created a file folder with 133 MP3 files across 4 subfolders for a total of 714Mb and transferred it from the Targus External USB Drive to the following various hard drive configurations. The goal of this test is to see how fast you can copy your own MP3 collection to a new hard drive. I burned the data to a DVD-ROM disc and then timed how long it took to complete the transfer.
Here are the results of a copy from ADV01US USB to RAID 0, 4x Samsung SpinPoint T HD501LJ 500 GB SATA II Hard Drive Array:
#1) 2 minutes 36 seconds
#2) 2 minutes 37 seconds
Here are the results of a copy from ADV01US USB to Transcend 32GB SSD, 2.5- Inch SATA:
#1) 2 minutes 40 seconds
#2) 2 minutes 41 seconds
Here are the results of a copy from ADV01US USB to the hard drive on a Dell Precision Workstation T3400 (BWCW9Z6_6) PC Desktop:
#1) 2 minutes 35 seconds
#2) 2 minutes 35 seconds
As you can tell, this DVD-ROM drive is a lot slower than your typical hard drive. Using this same benchmark, I was able to transfer these files in just 36 seconds with the Transcend 32GB SSD, 2.5- Inch SATA drive. As a result, this would not be a speedy option for copying a large collection of files frequently but it is still fast enough to get the job done in a pinch.
My biggest problem with this product is that it is only DVD-ROM and CD-ROM compatible. You cannot create data discs with it. With so many software packages now supporting external writing over USB, it would have been great to be able to create an image of my hard drive to DVD with this or a similar product. You can buy this online for about $40 at most retailers today but for just a few dollars more, you can get a DVD writer which will be so much more functional.
In all I give the Targus 8x External USB DVD Drive
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Amount Paid (US$): 39
Operating System: Windows