Pros: Inexpensive and well-engineered for portability and ease of use.
Cons: Requires a powered USB port.
Player only, does not record.
Now that I've got this DVD drive in my toolbox, I don't see how I ever did without one and can't imagine ever going without one again. If you service your own PC's you'll want one in your toolbox, too.
How and Why I bought This DVD Player
I don't just run out and buy an accessory because it's cool - that's how bankruptcies are born. I just lust after it until I come up with a rational reason why I need it. In this case, I needed to restore my Acer Aspire Netbook to it's off-the-shelf "pristine" state. I had the restore disks, but the netbook doesn't have a built-in DVD drive, so I had no way to run them.
I've run into this issue before, but since I have a well-stocked junk closet, I could always cobble together some sort of USB to IDE to DVD mess long enough to run the restore process. This time, the beat up old IDE controller was malfunctioning, so instead of trying to pump one more use out of it, I pitched it in the recycler and headed off to MicroCenter in Dallas.
I had just a few criteria in mind for getting an external DVD device:
- It must be USB 2.0 because every device I come across uses USB 2.0.
- It must not require an external power supply - USB has 5v available.
- It would be nice if it burns DVD's, but not necessary.
- It must be the cheapest of all the selections.
I got what i wanted with this thing - except it doesn't burn. None of the under-$50 ones do, and I'd rather pay less for what I know I need than more for what I only hope I get to play with someday.
Out-of-the-Box, Plug-and-Play, Point-and-Click
Since all modern motherboards are USB-aware and have features for handling USB storage as easily as internal storage, it was simple and painless to use this DVD drive. I just plugged it into a USB slot and Windows instantly recognized it for what it was, installing a generic driver because that's all it needs. It didn't even need a reboot, and when I unplugged the drive, Windows just casually recognized it as gone - no drama.
As part of Acer's restore process, a reboot was required. During the boot sequence, the BIOS recognized the DVD and prompted me to either boot from my hard disk as normal, or boot from the DVD - which is required for the restore process.
Not all drives are "bootable". I've been hit with that one before - where BIOS doesn't recognize a non-standard, proprietary piece of hardware and it's up to Windows to have some special software to use it. Because this drive was so cheap, I was concerned that it might have this problem, but thankfuly it did not.
When I was done using this DVD drive for its intended purpose, it seemed a shame to just pitch it in the junk closet - and inefficient, as well. I have a PC set up in the living room, cobbled together from busted old Dell's. It's DVD never worked even a little, so I dug the scraps of it from out of the PC and plugged this Acer DVD into an open USB slot.
Now my living room computer can play DVD's and the player is easily yankable to be used elsewhere.